Christmas Cookies and Cocktails

We're publishing something a bit different than our weddings and engagement sessions. Since Christmas is right around the corner (4 days but who's counting ;), I wanted to share a favorite part of the holiday season: baking!  I've been in the kitchen since I was six years old. I'm not even exaggerating. I would wake up before my family every Saturday morning and make pancakes.While it sounds super precious (because I was indeed an adorably chubby kid), my family eventually tired out of pancakes, so I moved on to cookies. 22 years later, I certainly have my favorite recipes, and I'm so excited to share.  

Special shoutout to my dear friend and wedding industry peer, Megan with Megan Styled for designing and styling these amazing cookie and cocktail pairings. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

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Chocolatey thumprint cookies 

with bailey's hot cocoa

BAILEY’S HOT COCOA

1 bottle of baileys
2 cups milk

2 cups half-and-half
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Whipped cream and chocolate shavings for serving

Combine milk with half-and-half in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, then stir in chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Divide hot cocoa into mugs, filling ¾ of the way full, filling the remaining ¼  with baileys. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

DARK CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT COOKIES

- Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

2 sticks unsalted butter brought to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 TBSP heavy cream

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric handheld or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar for two minutes or until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and espresso powder and beat at medium speed for another 2 minutes. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt. Beat slowly until just incorporated. Stir in 1 TBSP of heavy cream for a smooth consistency.

Roll dough ¾ ounce balls and place on baking sheet. Using thumb, press down into dough. Bake cookies just until they are set, about 7 minutes. While cookies are cooling on baking rack, make ganache.

Create a double boiler using a saucepan and metal mixing bowl. Pour 3 inches of water into saucepan place the double boiler on top (make sure it isn’t touching the water. Pour chocolate chips into mixing bowl. Place double boiler over medium heat. Stir the chocolate chips continuously until the boiling water below the bowl melts the chips. Take double boiler off of heat and stir in heavy whipping cream, vanilla and espresso powder.

Fill thumbprint cookies with ganache and let cool.

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Buttery biscottis

with eggnog

EGGNOG

12 egg yolks
1 ½ cup sugar
6 cups milk
3 cups heavy cream
5 whole cloves
2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla
2 cups light rum
12 egg whites

  1. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum and vanilla. Remove whole cloves pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.

BUTTERY BISCOTTI

- Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

3/4 cups + 1 TBSP hazelnuts
4.5 ounces pitted dried dates ( substitute golden raisins if necessary)
8 TBSP cold, unsalted butter cut into cubes
½ cup + 1 TBSP sugar
1 large eggs
1 cup + 2 ½ TBSP all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt

melted white chocolate for dipping

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until the skins blister. Let cool, then transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and rub off as much of the skins as possible. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

  2. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, cover the dates with water and microwave at high power for 1 minute, just until the dates are plump. Drain well. Slice dates into pieces.

  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat at low speed until combined. Add the nuts and dried fruit and beat until combined.

  4. Line 1 baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into six 10-by-3 inch log.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and firm. Let the logs cool for 15 minutes.

  5. On a work surface, using a serrated knife, slice the logs on the diagonal 2/3 inch thick. Arrange the biscotti cut sides up on the baking sheets and bake for about 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Once cooled, dip in melted white chocolate and place on parchment paper for cooling. 

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Gingerbread sandwich cookies

with Apple cider sangria

APPLE SANGRIA

3 cinnamon sticks
2 apples (sweet variety like fuji, pink lady or honeycrisp)
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (syrah or garnacha)
1 ¾ real apple juice (simply apple
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
juice from 1 lemon
Honey to taste

club soda to taste
½ cup cinnamon
½ cup sugar

Place ingredients from cinnamon sticks through lemon juice in a pitcher. Place pitcher in the refrigerator preferably overnight. Once flavors have marinated, add honey to taste.  

To assemble drink, mix cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Moisten the rim of the wine glass then dip into the cinnamon and sugar for a candied rim. Pour sangria mixture into wine glass ¾ of the way full and top off with club soda to taste.

GINGERBREAD SANDWICH COOKIES

- ingredients for cookies
3 cups AP flour
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 TBSP ground ginger
½ tsp cloves
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
12 TBSP unsalted butter (room temperature cut into 1 TBSP pieces)
¾ cup molasses
2 TBSP milk

- ingredients for frosting
1 cup butter 2 sticks (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ TBSP cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
3 TBSP heavy cream

Granulated sugar for cookie assembly

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk or the paddle of a stand mixer just until combined. Add the butter and mix at a low speed for about a minute and a half until mixture is sandy. Reduce speed of the mixer and gradually add molasses and milk until the dough is evenly moistened.

  2. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours. While dough is chilling, make cinnamon frosting. Beat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, in large bowl of an electric mixer (whisk attachment) on medium speed until light, fluffy. .Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, cinnamon and powdered and beat at a medium speed until frosting is fluffy. Add heavy cream 1 TBSP at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate until cookie sandwich assembly.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into ¾ ounce balls for even cooking and uniform sandwiches. Coat cook dough balls in sugar and put on baking sheet. Using the bottom of a clean glass, press dough into a disk shape (be careful not to make the cookies too thin). Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes or just until they are set. You don’t want to overcook.

  4. Once cookies have cooled, assemble into sandwiches by placing ½ TBSP of frosting into the center of the cookie and place the second cookie on top.  

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