Sunday, December 4, 2011

holiday cookie swaps and bacon chocolate chunk biscotti

There are no elaborate rules to the holiday cookie swap that I host with my best friend. While we together take baking very seriously, an affair that is themed around a sugary spread of everyone's favorite cookies should never be a tense event.

So, if you're a cookie party virgin, do not skip asking for an invitation to our next sweet treat gathering. Whether you're an experienced kitchen crusader or you briefly dabble in dessert-making, no one acts as critics in this get-together, but instead, attendees appreciate each and every contribution, requesting recipes for this and that, aiming to simplify their holiday baking by providing having a fine, diverse take-home sampling for their upcoming parties–or simply, to steal bites from throughout the Christmas season.

For this year's holiday cookie party, I opted to whip up two brand-new recipes for our guests' pleasure. Sometimes, I have lofty baking ideas, and with slim time to actually concoct fine jewels of desserts, they typically end in disasters.

But, I promise you, the following two recipes are crowd-pleasers, perfect to take to any cookie shareeven one of those that all bakers spend entire afternoons prepping for, designing their cookies and their plates, stressing over if their hard-worked contributions will be a raging success.

Cookie One: Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from Dec. 2010 issue of Southern Living

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine peanut butter with the next four ingredients until well-blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop dough on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 12–14 minutes, until light-brown. Let cool on baking sheets before removing onto cooling racks.
Cookie Two: Bacon Chocolate Chunk Biscotti
adapted from Serious Eats

  • 5 strips bacon, fried and chopped into bits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Fry bacon until browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towel-lined dish for cooling, and to drain. Chop up room temperature bacon to small pieces. Use a food processor and pulse if you prefer small pieces versus large bacon chunks. Note: Great addition to this part is squirting maple syrup in the processor when blending.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, two or three minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat to combine. Add flour mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in bacon bits and chocolate chips. Gather dough in ball and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured tabletop, roll each ball of dough into a 12 to 14-inch log. Transfer logs onto baking sheet, spaced about 4 inches apart. Bake until light golden and firm on top, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove baked logs from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Allow logs to cool for 10–15 minutes. With a serrated knife, slice each log into 1/2-inch thick slices. Return slices to baking sheet, each not touching the other, and bake until dry and golden, 20–30 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely and store in an air-tight container. Biscotti will keep up to two weeks, if stored properly.
If you're a bacon lover, like myself, the only adjustment I would recommend to this recipe is adding even more bacon! First tastes of this dessert will be similar to an ordinary chocolate chip cookie, but on the finish, you'll score the sweet and smokey bacon flavor, making this with-your-coffee treat perfect for any sweet–and-savory lover.

And, while we are on this bacon tangent, I must note: This year's cookie party featured three vastly different bacon cookies. Hallelujah to the fellow meat-lovers in my life! Kudos especially to you, Sarah!