December 14, 2007

Christmas Goodies

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Christmas Goodies
top: gingerbread with egg liqueur filling
bottom: marzipan stollen

Christmas season in my house means indulging in cakes, cookies, candies, puto and other Filipino kakanin...we eat them non-stop all season long. In addition to homemade fruitcakes and cookies we buy German Marzipan Stollen and assorted gingerbread/cookies. Every year new products come out and our snacks cabinets are overflowing with these yummy treats. I made gingerbread once or twice but they can't compare with the German gingerbread and cookies which are soft and have that melt-in-your-mouth quality. They are not very sweet and lightly spiced just the way we like them.

Yesterday I baked 3 kinds of cookies adapted from the recipes in last Wednesday's The Washington Post Food Section. These are very good cookies for adults, not for children though, because they are very chocolaty and not overly sweet. I will bake 2 or 3 other cookies next week and another batch of the savory Quinoa Cheese Cookies (Biscuits) which have become our favorite.

I used dark cocoa for this cookie because that's what I have in my pantry. I also did not add the chocolate covered espresso beans because the chocolate is extremely sweet. I added 1 T coarse ground coffee and increased the chocolate chips.

Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies

Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies

2½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground espresso beans (I used lavAzza)
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup cocoa powder (do not use Dutch processed)
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cups semisweet chocolate morsels
8 oz chocolate covered espresso beans
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground espresso beans, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter in a bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for several minutes until it is fluffy and lightens a bit in color. Add the sugar and beat until it has the consistency of thick frosting. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition; scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Add the vanilla extract, then reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three or four increments, mixing well after each addition. The dough will be moist and uniformly brown. Stop the mixer and add the chocolate morsels and espresso beans with a spatula, mixing until evenly distributed.
  4. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the dough on the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes on the middle rack. Let the cookies sit on the sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Initially I was doubtful about quinoa in a cookie and it has no sugar in it. But I love quinoa and cheese and was delighted that the cookie, more like a biscuit, is so delicious. The recipe asks for flakes but grains also may be used. I really love the flakiness, the crunch of the quinoa grains, and the slightly salty and cheesy flavor of these cookies.

Quinoa Cheese Cookies

Quinoa Cheese Cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1½ cups grated mild cheddar cheese
1 cup flour
½ cup quinoa flakes or grains
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ to 1 teaspoon water, as needed
  1. Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and the cheddar is well distributed.
  2. Sift together the flour, quinoa, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of wax paper. Reduce the mixer speed to low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. If the mixture is too crumbly, add water as needed. Transfer to a large piece of plastic film and roll to form a compact log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut the dough log into ¼ inch thick slices and place flat on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
These cookies remind me of Oreos. They are dark, almost black but without the cloying sweetness of the cream filling. I also love the crunch of the cacao nibs and the burst of flaky sea salt. Definitely for adults only.

Chocolate Shortbread With Cacao Nibs And Sea Salt

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies With Cacao Nibs And Flaked Sea Salt

1 cup flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons cacao nibs
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Combine the cacao nibs and salt in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl when necessary. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low, add half of the flour mixture, mix well, then add the rest of the flour, mix well. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Stop the motor and fold in the cacao nibs and salt by hand.
  4. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a square ¼ inch thick. Using a knife cut into squares or rectangles and place on the baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate sheets front to back and bake for another 8 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.


Ruy said...

The cheese cookies look mighty good! Thanks for the recpe.
Now I wonder where I can get quinoa here...

oggi said...

Thanks Ruy. Try the health food stores, they might have it.

Dhanggit said...

wow, 3 different types of i wish im a kid again :-) so i could eat em up without worrying about calories hahahaha!! in your household, when do you normally eat the christmas cookies?? coz in france its more truffle chocolates,honey spice cake and some candied fruits that we eat at 12 midnight :-)after the dinner

oggi said...

Dhanggit we'll worry about the calories after the holidays, heheh.
We eat Christmas cakes, candies, and cookies all season long up until the week after New Year's Day.
For media noche we usually have Filipino desserts, fruit cake, and marrons glacés.

maybahay said...

don't you just love christmas for all the christmas goodies? great cookie recipes. i'm a savoury girl at heart and will try your quinoa and cheese one soon. they all sound delish.

oggi said...

maybahay the quinoa cheese cookies got eaten first and will bake another batch for Christmas, they're that good!

g_mirage said...

Oh I know that Heart and stars lebkuchen! I eat them a lot here! I am not good in baking but I'm learning...hope you don't mind me borrowing one of yours! =)

oggi said...

g_mirage, not at all and have fun baking!
For the past 20 Christmas seasons we never fail to get these German cakes and cookies, they're already part of our holiday indulgence.

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