Cinnamon Roll Cookies

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Its funny; I’ve made hundreds of holiday cookies, but I don’t think I’ve ever participated in an actual cookie swap. Not a single one.

You guys know what those are, right? Cookie swaps are sugar overload get-togethers where each of the attendants bakes up a large batch of cookies and brings them to share & ‘swap’ everyone else who’s brought their own recipe of cookies to the party. Everyone is supposed to bring a different type so that there’s as much variety as possible. Sometimes there will be recipe exchanges along with the cookies. Sometimes people will vote on which cookie at the swap is the best tasting.

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It’s probably just in my competitive nature but if I did actually go to a cookie swap, I would want MY cookies to be the favorite. If all of the cookies were laid out together on a platter, I’d want MINE to look the prettiest. I’d definitely have to win, which means that the cookies I took with me would A) Not only have to be delicious, but B) also be just as great to look at.

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Having said all of that, I can guarantee that of all the cookies I’ve baked–and there have been many–if I had to choose one recipe to bake and bring to a cookie swap, this one right here would be it. No question.

It more than delivers in the taste department, the details of which we’ll get to in a second. But first, can we talk about the presentation?

I mean, come on. They just LOOK like the perfect Christmas cookie, right?

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What we have here is a cream cheese buttery cookie dough that gets rolled out flat, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar then rolled up in a tight cylinder, cinnamon-roll style. Individual cookies are cut from the cylinders then baked until golden brown. The cookie’s texture is tender and slightly crisp; think somewhere in between a sandie and one of those butter cookies that come out of the blue tins. The orange zest in the dough gives a slight but pleasant citrusy after-taste to them that complements the cinnamon inside beautifully.

They’re really very delicious guys. They remind me of something that the Keebler company would mass produce and sell at Christmas.

Except Keebler didn’t make them. I did. And now you can too.

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Before I even made this recipe, I knew that I was going to have a trial-error experience with it. They were just too pretty NOT to run into some technical difficulties. Fortunately for you guys, you get to find out how to make them without having to make the same mistakes I did. Following my clear and pretty straight forward instructions should make it so that there’s no reason why your cinnamon roll cookies won’t turn out exactly like the ones you see in the pictures.

I’d say that the most important step to nailing this recipe is making sure that your dough is the right temperature, especially before rolling it up into the cylinders that you cut into the individual cookies. When I first made these, my dough was still too soft; I didn’t give it enough time to chill in the freezer so it tore and broke apart AFTER I had already sprinkled with the cinnamon sugar and was attempting to roll it.

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Not pretty. Not fun.

Don’t do that.

Let your dough chill out in the freezer long enough so that it can be rolled up just as easily as cinnamon roll dough can. If you use the freezer rather than the refrigerator, it shouldn’t take too long. Roll the cylinders up as tightly as you can; loose rolls make the swirls in the cookies spread wide and cause some of the filling to spill out. Let the rolled up cylinders chill out in the freezer long enough so that when you cut them into individual cookies, the rolls don’t deflate.

If you keep this dough as chilled and firm as possible, it’ll be good to you. Promise. And, you’ll be the star of any cookie swap party, that’s for sure.

(Still more to come in our 12 Days of Christmas baking series. Stay tuned.)

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Day 3: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

 

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Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

In a  medium bowl or container, mix the flour together with the baking powder, yeast and salt.

In a large bowl of a standing mixer, use the whisk attachment to cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and grated orange peel.

Gently add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula periodically to ensure it’s mixed thoroughly.

Divide the dough into four portions. Freeze them for about 2o-minutes, until they are relatively firm.

Sprinkle a sheet of wax or parchment paper with flour. Using a rolling pin (or your hands) roll or pat each dough portion into an 8 x 6 rectangle. Sprinkle with two heaping tablespoons of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up as tightly as you can, jelly-roll style (it was easier for me to roll it up by the short side rather than the long one). Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and place back in the freezer for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the dough crosswise in about 3/8 inch slices. Place them about 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets (or lined with parchment paper). Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown on the bottoms. Allow to set on the baking sheet for about 60 seconds before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

(Note: No one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Pumpkin Crunch Tart

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For the second day of our Christmas series, I thought I’d start out this post with a small confession: I had never once tried a pumpkin pie until one year ago, at Thanksgiving.

I dunno why exactly. It could be because our family has ALWAYS been sweet potato pie eaters and although the two aren’t the same, it is typically a kind of  thing that most between choose between rather than having both. Most pumpkin pie also has a different flavor profile than sweet potato pie;  not only does it have a different texture, the spices also tend to pack more of a punch.

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For a while, the latter was the reason that I never really tried or thought it was even worth my while to try pumpkin pie. For most of my life, I was used to the sweeter, less spicy flavor of my grandmother’s sweet potato pie. Although I’d been using pumpkin spice in other baked goods,  pumpkin pie remained the final frontier that I hadn’t tried. It’s not like I thought I would HATE it, I just had the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mindset and stuck to my tried and true sweet potato pie.

This year however, I was feeling a bit more adventurous.

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If I had to give one qualm I have with not only pumpkin pie, but (yes) even sweet potato pie and smooth custard/cream pies in general, it’s that they often lack a textural component to break up that ‘smoothness’ and not have it be so one note. I don’t really go for those super thick and high cream pies that make you bite through two inches of cream and still you’re not really end up ‘chewing’ anything. I could go for something crunchy or a least with a small amount of texture to contrast it. It’s really that idea of wanting to try pumpkin pie with texture that inspired this recipe. I found and used a pumpkin pie recipe that I trusted (Bobby Flay has never let me down yet) and modified it to suit my purposes.

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Altogether this a SOLID dessert guys. The crust is an easy and far less labor intensive one than typical homemade pie crust and it will taste much better than a pre-made one you bought at a store. Use a good gingersnap though; one you would want to eat all on it’s own. If gingersnaps aren’t your thing, you can definitely use graham crackers too though. The filling is what I think a good pumpkin pie should be; there’s a good balance of deep caramel flavor from the molasses and brown sugar and spiciness of the seasoning. What’s more, letting it chill in the fridge overnight gives the spices enough time to really soak into the pumpkin puree so that the flavor is as pronounced as possible. I think the thing that makes this pie really special is the addition of the cinnamon crunch topping that gets sprinkled on top just before eating. It reminds me of a crunchy, spicy oatmeal cookie and it provides the perfect textural contrast that I think these kind of pies so desperately need so that you’re not eating soft and mushy on soft and mushy.

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Another thing, I said this in the recipe itself, but I’ll go ahead and say it again here. I know that most people don’t have rectangle tart pans (or any tart pans at all) just sitting around their kitchen–not unless you’re a baking fiend with an addiction to bakeware (like someone I know). That’s fine. This recipe will absolutely work in a 9 or 10 inch pie dish, you’ll probably just have an excess of crust that you don’t have to use, and you’ll need to increase your baking time in the oven.

Look y’all, when I took my first bite of this pie warmed up with a smattering of whipped cream, I just had to sigh and give The Head Shake. You know which one I mean. The one you give when what you’re eating is almost TOO delicious. It was absurdly good.

(And yes, in case you were wondering). Just as good as sweet potato pie.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Recipe Adapted from Bobby Flay

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Ingredients

For Cinnamon Crunch

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

For Crust

  • 3 cups ginger snap crumbs (I used Trader Joe’s gingersnaps)
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For Pie Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (NOT the mix)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for the top
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

For Cinnamon Crunch: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor, and process a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until combined. Pat the mixture evenly into a 4-inch square on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

For Filling: Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, both sugars, and molasses together in a medium bowl. Mix in pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Whisk in the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Either strain the mixture through a coarse strainer into a bowl, or give it a good blending in your blender, about 7-5 seconds. Whisk in the butter. Chill overnight in the refrigerator to allow flavors and spices to properly meld.

For Crust: Grease an 8 x 11 1/2 rectangular  tart pan*. combine the ginger snap crumbs, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until combined. Press evenly onto the bottom and sides of tart pan. Brush with the beaten egg. Bake until light golden brown and firm, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

For Assembly: Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, pour the pumpkin mixture into the shell, (don’t overfill, it’s ok if you have some leftover) and sprinkle additional cinnamon over the top. Bake until the filling is set around edges but the center still jiggles slightly when shaken, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Cut tart into slices and top with cinnamon crunch and whipped cream. Refrigerate leftover slices.

(*This recipe can also be made in a 9 inch and 10 inch pie dish. The tart pan was just my preference. Also, using a tart pan will almost definitely guarantee you’ll have leftover filling.)

 

Stuffing Bread

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Goodness. Has it been a year already since we did this? Time flies.

If you’re a new follower and are wondering what ‘this’ is, then allow me to fill you in. ‘This’ is the day that we’ll be starting the annual 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport: a series of 12 days of 12 recipes of Christmas themed goodies that I dump on you guys in rapid succession that are specifically designed to make you hungry for carbs/sugar/Christmas cheer. Because I find that is in one of my especially strong skill sets.

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There will (of course) be plenty of cookies and other sweets to come in the following days, but I also wanted to try and incorporate some other types of baked goods into the series as well. Yummy Christmas food comes in sweet AND savory packages. Case in point,  today’s recipe.

We’re coming right off the heels of Thanksgiving where a lot of people cook/eat abundant amounts of stuffing and/or dressing. Our family makes dressing (the stuff you cook all on its own in a separate baking dish, a very safe distance away from the raw, uncooked bird), and we like to eat it at both Thanksgiving AND Christmas. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without it.

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Whether you’re on Team Dressing or Team Stuffing, chances are you’re fond of at least a core set of flavors and ingredients that can be found in both (if they’re any go0d anyway). A lot of times, bread is crumbled and these ingredients and flavors are added TO it along with some egg and chicken broth to moisten it before it gets baked into a kind of casserole.

But what would happen if those flavors and ingredients were mixed together to MAKE a scratch made yeast bread?

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This. This is what would happen. And now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll elaborate. What you’re looking at is a whole wheat loaf of bread that I flavored with poultry seasoning, then rolled up with ingredients meant to remind you of the taste of stuffing and/or dressing: sage, celery, onion, browned sausage and cranberries.

I initially saw this bread on King Arthur Flour as a pull apart bread, similar to Monkey Bread where people can tear off chunks. However, in my rendition, I decided to go a little bit of a different route as I thought there could be some problems with the overall construction of the dough and keeping the filling from just collecting in pools between balls of dough–which could get particularly icky when it comes to baking sausage that will probably leak excess grease (even after you drain it)

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So, my idea of ensuring that I had a loaf that would still rise and bake without falling apart was to see if I could take a similar shaping method that was done for the Pane Bianco I did a while ago and apply it here. The dough is rolled out into a large rectangle, the filling is spread out, then the dough is tightly rolled up into a log. That log is split open, then turned inside out to reveal the layers created by the rolling–which, creates a very pretty presentation if I may say so myself. You’ll get huge kudos and props for a process that is actually fairly simple.

Oh, and I mentioned how delicious this stuff is, didn’t I? No? Oh, well yeah: it’s amazing. Using whole wheat flour as the base creates a nutty flavor of the dough that’s nicely complimented by the herbs from the sage, the savory meaty flavor of the sausage and the sweetness of the cranberries. They all balance one another so well. We ate this loaf both for Thanksgiving and warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave for breakfast in the days that followed and were VERY happy campers. I think that you and your wolfpack will be too should you choose to bake them a loaf.

Linking up this recipe to Fiesta Friday #148, cohosted this week by  Linda @ La Petite Paniere and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Stay tuned for more recipes to come in the 12 Days of Christmas; we’re just getting started!

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Stuffing Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour 

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For Filling

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 3/4 cup cooked pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle the instant yeast on top of the milk. Sprinkle sugar on top of yeast and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and flour. Set aside.

Using the dough hook attachment, add the flour mixture alternately with the butter in the standing mixer. Knead for about 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth dough that no longer sticks to sides of bowl.

Grease bowl with cooking spray or oil, place dough back inside, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make filling: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onions, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the heat and add the sausage, chopped sage, poultry seasoning, and cranberries. Cool to lukewarm, then stir in the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into an about 22 x 8 1/2 rectangle.  Sprinkle sausage/cranberry filling over dough, leaving about 1 inch of a border clear the top.

Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way, away from you. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Using kitchen shears, start 1/2 inch from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1 inch deep, to within 1/2 inch of the other end. Keeping the cut side up, form an “S” shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the “S” to form a “figure 8;” pinch the ends together to seal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the bread, and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.

Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Merry Christmas to All (and a Happy New Santa Bread)!

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Hey guys!

I know that we officially closed out the 12 Days of Christmas series a few days ago but I still wanted to take one last opportunity to throw out a great big Happy Holidays to all of you and your families whatever it is that you’re celebrating. Please rest up, cook lots, eat more, give a bunch, and above all, have fun.

Thanks for tuning in with me for the Christmas goodies series. I hope you got a chance to try some of them out, or at least get to bake up some of your own. And as an added bonus, I thought that I would throw out one extra recipe for ya. I initially was going to just discard this post as an unnecessary extra on the “cutting room floor”, but then I thought, “Hey, it’s Christmas, I can’t cut Santa!” and decided to just make it a bonus recipe instead.

Would you be surprised to know that this entire beautiful thing is made of  a delicious, slightly sweet golden egg bread? Not only that, it really isn’t as hard to make as it looks. It’s a great way to show off to all the family when you bring it out to the table and who doesn’t love to do that?

Well, that’s a wrap for me. I’m off to chill and listen to Christmas carols.

Have an AWESOME holiday you guys 🙂

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Golden Santa Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Taste of Home

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Ingredients

  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 raisins
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring

Directions

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Beat in eggs until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.

Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa’s head and hat.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa’s face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat.

With a scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins into slits. Let rise lightly covered with plastic wrap in a warm place for a further 30-40 minutes.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk; carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks. Brush plain yolk over remaining dough.

Cover loosely with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

(I’m also linking this post up with the 100th Fiesta Friday party, co-hosted this week by Judi, Molly, Steffi, and Suzanne. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays ladies ;-))

Sugar Cookie Cake

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You know the only thing I love more than Christmas?

The build up to the actual day.

I love the period from November 1st to December 24th MUCH more than I love December 25th.

It’s not because I don’t love Christmas. I do. It’s just something about the anticipation to Christmas that I actually love a lot more.

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During that period of roughly 50 or so days, I get to listen to all the Christmas music, watch all the Christmas movies and do all the Christmas baking I want. I get to walk through bustling malls and department stores that are decorated in holiday apparel and shop or just soak up the commercial atmosphere (I am into that kind of thing sometimes, guilty)

I can stretch it out  and milk it for all it’s worth.

And I DO milk it for all it’s worth.

Christmas Day itself is often to me, too busy and sometimes chaotic to really be able to “stop and enjoy”.

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You wake up (sometimes early, but sometimes late). You open presents. You congregate and socialize with family. You cook. You eat Christmas dinner. You clean up the kitchen You go to a movie (or watch football). You come home. You go to bed.

Boom. It’s over. Just like that.

And then, THEN you have nothing but the long, dreary doom and gloom of January/February/March to look forward to until Spring starts to creep back around.

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Every year without fail, I always wake up on Christmas morning wishing that it was November 1st all over again. With-out-fail.

It comes too fast. It leaves too fast. That’s my feeling about Christmas…and, about this series.

Because guess what?

We made it to the end. This post marks the 12 recipe in our 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport. We made it to the end.

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Just as it has been for the past two years, when the series is over I really do get a strong sense of nostalgia to go right when it first started. As much work as I have to put into it, I really do enjoy baking. And baking at Christmas for me just somehow feels even better and is even more enjoyable. Yes, even when I have to do it in these great big spurts where I churn out three or four recipes at a time then scramble to photograph/edit/and write posts for them.

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Am I saying that I’m gunning to crank out another twelve of these babies anytime soon? Nahhhhh, I wouldn’t go that far. I’m DEFINITELY going to enjoy a break from the constant baking/photographing grind. As will my feet, I can assure you.

But I do miss the experience already. It’s a blast, and I honestly can’t wait until I get to start it all over again next year.

I thought I make our last recipe go out with a bang.

As you guys already know about me, sugar cookies are my favorite type of cookie to eat, no matter what the season. Give me a sugar cookie over anything. Amen.

And for all the rest of you sugar cookie lovers out there, I think you ought to give this baby a try.

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It’s like, the sugar cookie of our dreams. It’s stupid easy. There’s no chilling or rolling out or cutting out of any dough. It’s thick. It’s soft. It’s chewy.

AND IT’S FRIGGIN’ ICED.

For a simple holiday dessert that looks every bit as good as she tastes, do try a Sugar Cookie Cake.

I’d like to once again thank everybody who followed along, liked or commented on the posts for this years’ 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog. You guys really are the best. Don’t worry: I AM going to reply to every single comment left on the posts. It’s just something that with the hectic process of baking/posting AND our move to a new place that I haven’t gotten to be as diligent at as I want to be. But I’ll get to it. Pinky Promise.

 

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti

Day 12: Sugar Cookie Cake

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Sugar Cookie Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups (14 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring (I used Wilton Juniper Green)
  • Red & Green festive nonpareils

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture, bit by bit, to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared cake pan, using your fingers to smooth the surface. Bake the cake until the edges just begin to turn golden, 26 to 28 minutes. (The center should still be soft.) Allow to cool completely. Run a knife along the edges of the pan before turning out and frosting. Store the cookie cake in an airtight container until ready to frost and serve; the cake is best served within 2 to 3 days.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Scoop out half of the frosting and set aside. Add a dollop of green food coloring to the remaining frosting and continue beating, adding more color as necessary, until desired shade of green is reached.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the white frosting over the top of the cookie cake. Transfer the green frosting to a piping bag fitted with a leaf tip. Hold the piping bag so the points of the tip are horizontal, like a bird’s beak, and position just over the edge of the cake. Squeeze hard to create the base against the cake, then quickly raise the tip, releasing pressure at the same time.

Pipe a row of leaves around the perimeter of the cake, then sprinkle nonpareils around the border. Refrigerate cake for about 15-30 minutes, just to let the icing set.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

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One of the most important things I try to remember about life and people in general is that sooner or later, at some point or other, everybody makes mistakes.

Nobody’s perfect.

Stuff happens.

Sometimes, you just mess up.

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For example: I remember being in the fourth grade and being in a class play of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I had one of the lines Lucy says. I can even remember it now: “Now Linus, I want you to take a good look at Charlie Brown’s face. Would you please hold still Charlie Brown? This is what you call a failure face.”

It’s actually a pretty cruel thing to say, but for some reason, when my cue came, I got a MAD case of the giggles. For about 10-15 seconds, I just couldn’t stop laughing. I got the line out eventually, but it was definitely not one of my finer moments on the stage.

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I watched an episode of the Price is Right where one of the models accidentally gave the contestant playing a game the correct answer in a price guessing game. She literally turned beet red and hid behind the sign in embarrassment. I hoped she got to keep her job.

Every Windows update since Vista has been a mistake. They should really get to work on fixing it.

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I’m sure all of us by now have heard about the Miss Universe pageant last night, where the host Steve Harvey accidentally crowned the runner up as the winner instead of the actual one. I have several personal issues/dissensions of opinion with some of Steve Harvey’s perspectives about women and relationships, but even I kinda felt bad for him for making that mistake.

I think I feel even worse for both Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia.  Miss Colombia must have been humiliated and devastated to think that she won the crown at first, then have to lose it in front of millions of people. Even though she won, Miss Philippines probably felt as though her moment of victory was spoiled by the gaffe that will likely follow her everywhere now.

But like I said, people make mistakes. Stuff happens.

Kinda like with this recipe.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti5

To be perfectly honest, I had one of those moments when first setting out to make it a few days ago. As easy as it is to put together biscotti, I still actually managed to mess up my first batch. What had happened was, after I put together the dough I was supposed to pat it into 2 separate logs measuring about 6-8 inches long, arranging them vertically on a sheet pan.

But for some reason, I missed that part of the recipe. What I ended up doing instead was making two logs that were actually more like 10-12 inches long and arranging them  horizontally on the sheet pan. About ten minutes after I put it in the oven and I saw how much the dough was spreading, I realized I had DEFINITELY done something wrong. I took a second look at the recipe and heaved a great big sigh. Then, I took out the sheet pan and promptly shoved the whole shebang into the garbage bin, and started again.

As you can see…I got it right the second time. These REALLY do taste like regular snickerdoodle cookies.

If at first you don’t succeed: try, try again.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti

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Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Recipe Courtesy of Food.com

Print

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white

Directions

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure flour into a large bowl using the scoop and level method. Add 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.

Mix oil, vanilla and whole eggs in a small bowl, and add to the large bowl (your dough will be dry and quite crumbly).

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 7 or 8 times.Divide in half. Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them six or so inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick.

Combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes.

Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again.Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees F and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more. They’ll be soft in the middle but will harden as they cool.

While biscotti are in their final bake, combine the remining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small, shallow dish with a fork. When the biscotti are done, dip both flat sides into the cinnamon sugar mixture, then set on a wire rack to cool.

Café Coffee Cookies

Cafe Coffee Cookies1

Baking twelve batches of Christmas goodie recipes is no small task, guys,

It’s a whole lot of butter, sugar, flour.

A.WHOLE.LOT.

Like, I don’t think you understand how much of those three things you’re going to end up using.

And spilling. And cleaning up.

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Eventually stuff just starts blurring together; the sound of the mixer, the stray sprinkles that fall on the kitchen floor, the empty eggshells and used butter wrappers, the measuring cups and measuring spoons that you continually have to rinse out and dry between recipes, the sound of the oven buzzer going off telling you to take the next ‘batch’ out. You run out of counter space and end up having to get ‘creative’ to find spaces to let your bakes cool off and or set up. You go through countless rolls of paper towel, parchment paper and aluminum foil.

Cafe Coffee Cookies3

Also, your feet swell and ache from standing up for hours.

I pretty much turn into a mixing, measuring, baking Elf for this series.

But somehow, I still end up loving it.

Cafe Coffee Cookies6

Spoiler Alert, guys: as much as I love doing the series, I actually don’t end up keeping/eating most of the food I bake.

I mean, come on: it would just be a bad idea for me to keep 12 batches of baked goods in my house. I probably wouldn’t be able to fit out the door of my house if I did that. Plus, Christmas is the season of giving, right?

So, what I usually try and do is give away as much of the treats as possible to people I know; neighbors, family, friends. I send it to Christmas parties and potlucks. There’s a lady in my grandparents church who gets the bulk of them to pass out to kids in her neighborhood.

In short, when you do this much baking at a time, it’s just best for you to share the wealth…most of the time.

Cafe Coffee Cookies2

Except, that’s not exactly what happened with these. This time around, I didn’t want to “share the wealth”, I wanted to hoard it. So I did.

These cookies, I kept. All for myself. That’s how yummy they are.

It may have something to do with my being somewhat of a coffee addict, but I seriously loved these cookies. They’re soft, fudgy and rich. The combination of chocolate and coffee works SO well here. The flavor really is reminiscent of  your favorite latté at a coffee shop. Because I’m such a huge coffee fan, I did bump up the amount of instant coffee in my dough to 4 tbsp. However, because I know that not everyone is as fond of coffee as I am, I kept the printed recipe as I originally found it. (But if you love coffee as much as I do, I recommend bumping it up).

There’s only two more days left of our series, guys. Whoop whoop.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

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Cafe Coffee Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Betty Crocker

Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso coffee (dry)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 bag (11.5 or 12 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks (2 cups)

 For Coffee Drizzle

  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso coffee (dry)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

In large bowl, beat granulated and brown sugars, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until creamy. Stir in flour, 1 tablespoon coffee granules, the baking soda and salt. Stir in pecans and chocolate chunks. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 350°F. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased large cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Cool 4 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon coffee granules in water. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle cooled cookies with Coffee Drizzle.