Christmas tips

Here’s a little Christmas present, from me to you.

Tip #1: Always check the expiry date on your baking powder before trying to actually bake anything. You will save yourself frustration, wasted labour, and baking that doesn’t turn out correctly.

Tip #2: If you don’t want to cook or eat leftovers on Christmas Day, head to Chinatown. Asian restaurants are pretty much the only places that are open on the 25th. Dim sum, anyone?

There will be a new Morocco blog post before the new year. One with lots and lots and lots of photos. Have a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) everyone!

Sugar and Spice Drops

Unlike last year, when I went on a Christmas baking frenzy, I’m only doing a handful of things this year. I’ve already made a batch of crack (a.k.a sugar coated pecans), and I’m planning on making at least one batch of those cranberry-apricot chocolate chews that I keep talking about.

I am making one new kind of cookie this year though. After making those chews last year, I got really interested in the book that it came from, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. It got great reviews so I took a risk and bought a copy online, which is rather unusual for me because  I generally prefer to flip through a hard copy of a cookbook before making a purchase.

I love gingerbread cookies, but sometimes you want something that’s a little more simple to make and is lighter in flavour. And so, when I saw this Sugar and Spice Drops recipe I knew I had to try it out. They have a light gingerbread-style flavour – just enough to give you some spice but not enough to overwhelm. They are more crispy and the flavour is lighter than the ginger cookies I made last year.

Sugar and Spice Drops
Sugar and Spice Drops
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by King Arthur Flour
Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup fancy molasses
1 large egg
2 cups traditional whole wheat flour

Directions
Cream together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the molasses, and then the egg, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the flour and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes. (The original recipe said it could also be refrigerated overnight, but when I did that for a second batch of cookies I found that the dough dried out a bit and was harder to work with, so I personally wouldn’t recommend leaving it for that long.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use a teaspoon to scoop out a piece. Lightly roll it in your hands to make a small ball, and drop it onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they’ve flattened out and started to brown slightly, about 10-12 minutes depending on your oven. Be careful of overcooking them as you could potentially burn the bottom of the cookies without realizing it. Remove them from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Don’t worry if the cookies seem a bit soft or uncooked inside – they’ll finish cooking off as they cool down.

Once cool, the cookies will be crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside.

Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews

This is the very last cookie in my never-ending Christmas cookie adventure. Hooray!

I’ve saved the best one for last. After few successes and a whole bunch of failures, I decided to make this recipe. And oh boy do they taste fantastic! Designed to use whole wheat flour and chock full of dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate, this cookie disappeared quickly. I only managed to grab a small handful of them for one of the cookie tins. If I wasn’t on this strict diet I would make these ones again in a heartbeat.

Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews

Cranberry-Apricot Chocolate Chews

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Two more low sugar and sugar-free cookies

Sugar-free Chocolate and Jam Cookies

Sugar-free Chocolate and Jam Cookies

This will be the 2nd last post about Christmas cookies. I’m so close to the end of them that I can almost taste it!

After the epic failure of the sugar-free shortbread, I tried a couple of other low sugar and sugar-free recipes.

The first one was sugar-free chocolate cookie recipe, made with jam. Unfortunately I had a hard time finding sugar-free jam for some strange reason, and ended up using a “no sugar added” jam instead. Not ideal, but not bad for a diabetic. Continue reading

Christmas cookie tin

I am determined to finish these Christmas cookie posts. This post will be talking about three different recipes, one of which isn’t actually a cookie.

For gifts I placed cookies in tins, with a few different cookies in each tin. This one had a chocolate chip cookie made with Christmas chocolate Smarties (for you U.S. people, Smarties are like M&Ms but better ;D), white chocolate peppermint bark, and soft ginger cookies.

Cookie tin

Cookie tin

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A tale of two (apricot) cookies

Another post about the cookies I baked this past Christmas. This picture is of my first attempt at making a cookie with dried apricots. I saw this recipe and it looked easy and simple, so I figured why not? The cookies ended up spreading into thin discs and sticking very badly to the tin foil. The taste was not bad but much sweeter than I expected. They stuck so well to the tin foil that, after trying to peel some off without the cookie breaking, I gave up and tossed the whole thing out. I’m not even going to bother posting the recipe, because it failed so well.

Apricot cookie fail

Apricot cookie fail

My next attempt at an apricot cookie was a gluten-free apricot almond cookie recipe that I found through some Google searching. This is an unusual tasting cookie. Crunchy on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside, they’re just slightly sweet. I had more than one person ask me if there was coconut in the cookie, but it was actually the texture of the ground almond flour. The original recipe calls them butter cookies, but they aren’t very buttery tasting. Rather, they taste more like large macaroons. I think the cookie was made more unique by the shapes I baked them in as well. Dropping the cookies gave them a rough and rustic look, while pressing down the mounds just gave them a vaguely round shape that didn’t seem to crisp as well as the dropped version. I made a few changes to the recipe based on comments on the original recipe web page, mainly adding more almond flour, adding more apricots and reducing the amount of sugar.

Flourless apricot almond cookies - success!

Flourless apricot almond cookies - success!

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Fun Friday – holiday edition

I have Chinese food on Christmas too. Partly because I’m Chinese and partly because if you’re lazy, Chinese restaurants are the only places that are open on Christmas day. 😉