December 23, 2012 by Meg G.
Our fourth annual cookie bake-off produced some of the most delicious cookies yet. This is certainly what we had hoped, having declared the overall theme deliciousness! We had about a dozen entrants and they were all wonderful.
Here are this year’s categories and their descriptions:
-Simply classic. No further description required.
-It’s like Christmas in your mouth.
-Perhaps it’s a unexpected flavor combination. Perhaps the outside doesn’t even compare to the taste. Whatever it is, it will surprise your tastebuds in the best of ways.
This year, we were all judges! So, while the “official” judges were deliberating behind closed doors, the rest of us voted for the winner of the final category: Just. Plain. Delicious.
So, with two days left until Christmas, I thought I’d give you a double dose of festive cookie recipes. That’s right – we had a tie for the most festively delicious cookies! These were very different, but equally festive and delicious.
First up, a classic Linzer Cookie from our friends Amanda and Kelly. Recipe from Southern Living.
- 1 1/4 cups butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
- Powdered sugar
- Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer; gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
- Combine flour and next 5 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended.
- Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Cover and chill 1 hour.
- Roll each portion to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 3-inch star-shaped cutter. Cut centers out of half of cookies with a 1 1/2-inch star-shaped cutter. Place all stars on lightly greased baking sheets.
- Bake at 325° for 15 minutes; cool on wire racks. Spread solid cookies with jam; sprinkle remaining stars with powdered sugar. Top each solid cookie with a hollow star.
These ladies chose to use snowflake and gingerbread people cookie cutters to change it up a bit. The result: a delicious and classic Christmas cookie.
Now, for a real treat and surprise – unbeknownst to any of the judges, these next award-winning cookies are actually vegan! Friends K.J. and Steph brought these lovely little peppermint tree sandwich cookies and they were a hit! The original recipe by Hannah Kiminsky, technically called Vegan Chocolate Spritz Cookies with Candy Cane Creme Filling, can be found here.
This recipe calls for a cookie gun, which you can find online or in any baking supply or department store. If you don’t have one, you can just make little Oreo look-a-likes.
2 Cups Vegetable Shortening
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 6-Ounce Container Vanilla Soy or Coconut Yogurt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Margarine, Softened
1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening
4 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
4 Ounces Smashed Candy Canes or Starlight Mints
Makes about 80 Chocolate Cookies; 40 Sandwich Cookies
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheet with silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In your stand mixer, thoroughly cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the soy or coconut yogurt and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and cream that in as well.
- In a different large bowl, whisk together all of the remaining dry ingredients and slowly add them to the stand mixer. The resulting batter with be very thick, but will come together. No need to add any extra liquid.
- Once you achieve a cohesive dough, place a few mounds of it into your spritz cookie gun. Squeeze out cookies as directed, reload when you run out of dough, and repeat. Once you use all of the batter and have your cookie sheets filled, place them in the oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until no long “wet” looking on top and the cookies look solid. It’s hard to tell when they’re done since the cookies are so dark to begin with, but 8-10 minutes should do it.
- Let the cookies cool on the sheets for at least 10 minutes, and then completely on a wire rack before filling.
- To make the filling, simply whip together the margarine and shortening in your stand mixer until smooth. Add in the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and crushed mints, start the machine on a slow speed and gradually mix to incorporate. Once incorporated, mix on high for about 5 minutes, until smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Apply to cookies as desired, sandwiching two together to finish.
Like a good cookie competitor, K.J. did a practice run prior to the party. Discovering that the peppermint flavor got stronger and more delicious over time, he decided to add a bit of peppermint extract to the filling. I’d say that, and the tree shapes, really upped the festive factor!
Congrats to our winners and thanks for sharing your victorious recipes! : ) Enjoy!