My collection of holiday cookies. Photo by E. Juocys

Guest post from My Girl Friday, who loves loves loves cookies—M.R.

by Emilia Juocys

December is here and it is time to bake cookies. It is not as easy of a task as one might think it is. I spend about two days thinking of the combination of cookies that I will be baking and presenting for Christmas. I review classic cookies that I make year round, seasonal cookies, and ones that take a bit longer to make. My labor of love are these cookies. The two dozen that make it in the box to share with friends, loved ones, and co-workers. This is my way to share my skill and love of baking with those around me.

This year will be a more meaningful Christmas baking season since my mentor has passed. I lost my grandmother in October. I can recall standing beside her and watching her roll out the rich butter cookie dough. The power and grace she had while weilding a rolling pin, how the flour coated her hands. My sister and I anticipated her completing rolling out the dough so we could select the Christmas shapes to cut the dough with. I remember the times I was given warm hazelnuts to remove their skins or the special hand coffee grinder to grind the nuts. My Christmas will be filled of thoughts and memories of her and all the cooking we would do during Wigilia.

The cookies I selected to share with you are my favorites for the holiday, Ginger Pigs and Chocolate Orange Delights. Ginger Pigs are my spicy take on the traditional gingerbread man, instead of a person I pick a pig. This cookie is very popular with my Canadian curling friends who live in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the lot of my curling acquaintances. It is a pig because I am playing off the curling term called the “hog line.”  I normally leave them unglazed, but since ’tis the season, please glaze them or decorate them with frosting or royal icing.

The Chocolate Orange Delights are a soft, rich, chocolaty treat studded with the essence of orange. It is a classic combination of dark chocolate and orange. To make this cookie out of this world you should look for high quality oranges and chocolate.  The quality ingredients make this cookie outstanding. Look for beautiful mineola or navel oranges and then a higher quality chocolate like Cacao BarryCallebuat, or Scharffenberger, if not then Ghirardelli will do.

Lastly, I must stress that mise en place is very important in cookie making and baking.  Have everything scaled out ready to go.  This will make the cookie baking experience more enjoyable, especially if you have small children around.  Baking equipment is also critical to cookie success.  Have a good baking scale, rolling pin (I like the french pins), scoops, and a dependable 5 quart mixer.  Please enjoy these holiday cookies recipes.  Happy baking!

 

Ginger pigs at their finest. Piping hot, right out of the oven. Photo By E. Juocys

Ginger Pigs

  • 19 ounces All Purpose Flour (1 pound 3 ounces)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 4 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamon, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 8 ounces Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature (two sticks)
  • 6 ounces Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 5 ounces Dark Molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • As Needed, All Purpose Flour for dusting
  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together, including all the spices, salt, pepper, baking soda, and flour.
  2. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachement, beat butter until creamy; about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until creamy and smooth; another 3 minutes on medium-high speed.
  3. With a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add in the egg. Beat until incorporated
  4. After the egg is blended in, add the molasses, honey, and paddle until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough should tinged brown because of the molasses.
  5. On low speed, slowly begin to add flour mixture to mixing bowl. When the dough pulls away from the sides remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic.
  6. It is recommended that you refrigerate dough overnight, if not rest the dough for 2 hours before rolling out and cutting.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350 degree F/177 degree C. Remove the dough from the cooler and divide into 4 parts. Begin to roll out the dough on a well dusted surface, roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. With your favorite cookie cutters begin to cut out your desired shapes or cut out squares with a fluted pasta cutter. I prefer pigs, hence the ginger pig.
  8. Place the cut outs on a sheet tray lined with either parchment paper or a silpat and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. When cookies are done baking, let them sit for a few minutes and them place them on a rack to cool.
  10. Eat as is or you can glaze with a simple powdered sugar glaze or frosting to decorate for the season. If you have a pig cutter you can tint your glaze pink.
  11. Enjoy!

Chocolate Organe Delights. Photo by E. Juocys

Chocolate Orange Delights

  • 11.5 ounces All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 8 ounces Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature (2 Sticks)
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 2 ounces Cocoa Powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Orange Zest
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Eggs
  • 8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate; Melted & Cooled
  • 5 ounces Chopped Bittersweet Chocolate
  • Granulated Sugar, As Needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F./ 177 degrees C.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a five quart mixer with a paddle attachement; beat together the butter, brown sugar, cocoa powder, orange zest, and vanilla until well combined or 4 minutes. The butter mixture will be a light brown color and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Then add the eggs one at a time, until each is incorporated in the butter mixture.
  5. Pour in the melted chocolate into the butter mixture and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. You need to make sure the chocolate is cool to the touch and not hot or it will melt your butter.
  6. Once the chocolate is mixed into the butter begin to add the dry ingredients and mix on slow speed until almost blended which will take about 1 minute.
  7. Pour in the chopped chocolate and paddle for another 30 seconds.
  8. With a tablespoon scooper begin to scoop out balls of the dough, roll in sugar until the outside of the dough ball is covered in sugar, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.
  9. Bake until cookies are puffed and cracked on top 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes before you move them or they will crack and break.

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© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved