Sweets for Santa and everyone else

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When it comes to baking, Christmas is prime time for those who like to make cookies, bars, brownies and other special sweets.

dories-cookies-coverWhether you are looking for a new take on an old classic or something truly special at your holiday event, some of the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies are real gems. Plus, Greenspan is very detail-oriented when it comes to the techniques for each. Something that at first appears challenging can actually roll out pretty easily.

Dorie’s Cookies is the perfect book for a cookie lover or someone just starting to bake, so why not give these goodies a try?

Double-Ginger Molasses Cookies

Classic molasses cookies are scooped, molded into balls, rolled in sugar and then pressed with a fork before baking, and you can make these cookies that way. Or you can do what I do: Mold them in muffin tins, which turn out more uniformly shaped cookies that teeter on the brink of becoming gingerbread cakes.

A word on crystallized ginger: Crystallized, or candied, ginger is sliced fresh ginger that is cooked in syrup, dredged in sugar and dried. You can usually find it in the supermarket alongside other dried fruits or in the spice section. If the ginger isn’t moist and pliable, steam it before using: Put it in a strainer over a saucepan of simmering water, cover and let warm and soften for about 5 minutes; pat dry, chop and use. If you can’t find crystallized ginger, you can omit it or mix 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger with 2 teaspoons sugar and let stand for about 10 minutes, until the ginger is syrupy.

Makes about 36 cookies

2¼ cups (306 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 to 2 teaspoons instant espresso, to taste (optional)

1½ teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1½ sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces; 170 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature

1⁄3 cup (67 grams) sugar

1⁄3 cup (67 grams) packed light brown sugar

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

½ cup (120 ml) unsulfured molasses

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1⁄3 cup (55 grams) chopped crystallized ginger or 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar (see headnote)

7 ounces (200 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped chip-size

Sugar, for rolling

Whisk the flour, cocoa, espresso (if using), spices, baking soda and salt together. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-low speed for about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, until fully blended. Add the yolk and beat for 1 minute, then add the molasses and vanilla, beating until smooth. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and pulse the mixer until the risk of flying flour passes. Working on low speed, mix the dough until the flour is almost but not completely incorporated. Add the crystallized ginger (or the sugared fresh ginger) and chocolate and mix until the dry ingredients disappear into the dough and the ginger and chocolate are evenly distributed. If you’ve got bits of dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl, mix them in with a flexible spatula.

Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Getting ready to bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray regular muffin tins or, if making free-form cookies, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Have a medium cookie scoop at hand. Alternatively, you can use a rounded tablespoonful of dough for each cookie. If you’re using tins, find a jar or glass that fits into them and can be used to flatten the dough; cover the bottom in plastic wrap. Spoon some sugar into a wide shallow bowl.

For each cookie, mold a scoop or spoonful of dough into a ball between your palms, then turn it in the sugar to coat and put in a muffin cup or on a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each ball of dough. If using tins, use the jar or glass to flatten each ball until it almost reaches the sides of the cup. If it’s free- form, press to flatten to about 1⁄2 inch thick.

Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, rotating the tins or sheets top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be lightly set around the edges and softer in the center. Transfer the tins or sheets to racks and let the cookies rest for 15 minutes before unmolding them and/or placing them on racks to cool completely.

If you’re baking in batches, make certain to start with cool tins or baking sheets.



Playing Around – Ginger-Chocolate Ganache

To make a ganache that you can use to finish the cookies, bring 2⁄3 cup heavy cream and four 1⁄4-inch-thick slices of fresh ginger to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and allow the cream to infuse for 20 minutes. Return the cream to the boil, then remove the ginger and pour half of the cream over 6 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Wait for 30 seconds, stir gently and then stir in the remainder of the cream. Dip the top or one side of each cookie in the chocolate and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 20 minutes to set the chocolate. Bring the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Storing: You can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days. You can also scoop out the dough, shape into balls and freeze the balls on baking sheets; when they’re firm, pack them airtight and keep frozen for up to 2 months. Remove the dough from the freezer and let the balls sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then roll in sugar and bake. The baked cookies can be kept in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 days. They’ll get a little drier and a little less chewy, but that will make them even better for dunking.

World Peace Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

When we baked them at Beurre & Sel, we rolled the dough 3/8 inch thick and cut cookies with our rings so that they’d be uniform and fit into our signature packaging. at home, I bake them as I did from the start: I shape the dough into logs and then slice and bake the cookies as I need them.

A word on mixing, log rolling and patience: this dough can be different from batch to batch. It always seems to turn out well no matter what, but the inconsistency can be frustrating. I’ve found that it’s best to mix the dough for as long as it takes to get big, moist curds that hold together when pressed and then knead if necessary so it comes together. When you’re rolling it into logs, keep checking that the logs are solid. Again, the dough can be capricious and it may not always roll into a compact log on the first (or second or third) try. Be patient.

1¼ cups (170 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powderworld_peace5087

½  teaspoon baking soda

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons; 5½ ounces; 155 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature

2/3 cup (134 grams) packed light brown sugar

¼  cup (50 grams) sugar

½  teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces (142 grams) best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular bits

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy and homogenous, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start the blending. When the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix to incorporate. This is an unpredictable dough: Sometimes it’s crumbly and sometimes it comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Happily, no matter what, the cookies are always great.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. Divide it in half. Shape the dough into logs that are 11/2 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about the length — get the diameter right, and the length will follow. (If you get a hollow in the logs, just start over.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze them for at least 2 hours, or refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Working with one log at a time and using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (The rounds might crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. (If you’ve cut both logs, keep one baking sheet in the fridge while you bake the other.)

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes — don’t open the oven, just let them bake. When the timer rings, they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, and that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can munch them, or let them reach room temperature (I think the texture’s more interesting at room temperature).

Bake the remaining dough on cool sheets.


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Dulce De Leche Filling

Makes 16 cookies

For the whoopie pies

13⁄4 cups (238 grams) all-purpose flour

3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cardamompumpkin_whoopie_pies_with_dulce_de_leche_filling45

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature

3⁄4 cup (150 grams) sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

11⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1⁄2 cup (113 grams) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1⁄2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk, preferably at room temperature

3⁄4 cup (about 75 grams) fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (if frozen, don’t thaw)

For the filling:

1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature

1 cup (96 grams) marshmallow crème (or Marshmallow Fluff)

1⁄4 cup (30 grams) confectioners’ sugar

Pinch of fine sea salt

1⁄4 cup (75 grams) dulce de leche, homemade or store-bought

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray two standard muffin tins (do this even if the tins are nonstick).

To make the cookies: Whisk the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until creamy. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the pumpkin puree and beat until it’s fully incorporated; don’t be discouraged when the mixture curdles — it will soon smooth out. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add half of the dry ingredients. Pulse to begin the mixing and then mix on low, scraping the bowl as needed, until the flour mixture is blended in. Beat in the buttermilk. Turn off the mixer, add the remaining dry ingredients, pulse and then mix on low until you have a lovely smooth batter. Switch to a flexible spatula and fold in the cranberries. Don’t be too thorough — it’s better to have an uneven mix than to break the berries and turn the batter red.

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