Friday, 21 December 2012

Wreath and Tree Butter Cookies

These are the cookies I made for my work’s cookie exchange! They are the classic butter cookies that I’ve been making for years and are my absolute favorite cookie of all time.  I posted them here last year.  This year, I added a green tint and made wreaths and Christmas trees.  I didn’t have any of the secret ingredient (vanilla syrup), which made a big difference, but they were still good with regular vanilla extract.

Wreath and Tree Butter Cookies


1 cup salted butter

1 ¼ cup sifted icing sugar

2 Tablespoon vanilla syrup

1 egg

Green gel food colouring

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda


1.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

2.  Beat in vanilla syrup and eggs.

3.  Add food colouring to the colour of your liking.  Beat until incorporated.

4.  Whisk flour and baking soda in a bowl.  Gradually add into butter mixture.

5.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. You can also freeze the dough for up to 6 months.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

6.  Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick and cut out wreath and trees.

7.  Add decorations.

8.  Bake for about 6 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden.  Cool on rack.
After adding colour.

Ready for the fridge.

Right out of the oven.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Cookie Exchange Part 4

Final cookie exchange post.  Check out these goodies made by my colleagues!  My next post will be the cookie that I made for the exchange.

Chocolate Pistachio Wafers

By Kelli

Adapted from here.

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup natural cocoa (not Dutch process)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I omitted)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
¾  teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1-2 cups pistachios

(original recipe calls for ~2 cups chopped walnuts and ~1cup chopped pistachios)

1. Whisk the flour, cocoa and cinnamon; set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy but not melted.
3. Add the confectioner’s sugar and salt; mix on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add the egg; mix until well blended.
4. Add the nuts, and the flour mixture; as soon as the dough comes together, stop the mixer. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help shape the dough, gently press it into a 6-inch square that is 1 1/2 “ thick. (I just shape it into a log, slice & bake style J). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to slice, at least 4 hours.
5. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (or a Silpat). Unwrap the dough, and slice between 1/8 – ¼ in thick. Lay the slices 1/2” apart on the baking sheet. Bake until the tops look dry and the nuts look golden, 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet fro about 10 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. (I transfer to cooling rack after 1 minute, so I can keep the baking moving).

Chocolate Truffles Recipe

By Joanna

**Please note, I kind of made it up as I went along, so the measurements are best estimates, you may need to adjust slightly**

Yield: Makes approx. 6 dozen chocolate truffles.

Wax paper

Double boiler (or use a sauce pan with a bowl or pan over top)

Chocolate thermometer (optional, I didn’t use this, but it is useful if you want to temper the chocolate coating, that’s the advanced version and there are lots of instructions online for this)

Mini chocolates mold (optional, I didn’t use this)


Basic truffle ingredients

3 ½ - 4 cups chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces (I used Bernard Callebaut Chocolate)

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

½ cup butter (chopped into small chunks for easy melting with chocolate)

1 cup high quality milk chocolate or dark chocolate (for coating the ganache)

Optional base flavorings

Vanilla extract

Mint extract

Cayenne pepper

Almond extract




Whole almonds or other nuts

Other ideas?

Optional Truffle Coatings
Cocoa powder

Finely chopped almonds or other nuts

Icing sugar

Crushed candy canes

Other ideas?

1. In a heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes.  Careful because it can boil over quickly if it gets too hot.
2. Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, add the butter chunks.  Allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. This chocolate base is called ganache
TIP: If the chocolate doesn’t melt entirely you can put it on a double boiler to melt.  If you don’t have a double boiler, a small pot with heated water and a bowl or pan on top will work too.  Careful not to use too much heat to melt the chocolate, be patient and keep stirring.
3. At this point I separated the chocolate and cream mixture into a few smaller bowls so that I could make different flavours.  Add the desired flavours to taste and stir.  (I put either brandy or Kahlua in the entire batch and then added the other flavours to taste in the smaller bowls.) Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and place in the refrigerator for two hours (or longer, I left it over night because I have a life). Remove from fridge and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache.  You could also roll the ganache around an almond or another nut, ginger, candy, whatever you like if you want an interesting centre to the truffle.
TIP:  Ideally the ganache will have the consistency of playdoh. If it’s too hard you will need to roll it in your hands more to warm it so that you are able to shape it into a ball.  If it’s too soft, roll quickly so it doesn’t melt too quickly.
4. Place ball on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Place in refrigerator over night or in freezer for 10-15 minutes. 
Another option: try putting ganache in ice cube trays or chocolate mold trays to get square or other shaped chocolates instead of rolling into balls, I didn’t do this but thought about it after….no guarantees how this will work
5. Melt milk chocolate and/or dark chocolate on a double boiler, stirring regularly until smooth. I melted both milk and dark chocolate separately so I could use both for coating and decorating.Remove ganache balls from freezer/fridge. Put a ~tablespoon of the melted chocolate in palm of hand and roll ganache ball in palm until covered. 
6. Put topping options into different bowls. Place warm chocolate covered ganache from your palm into a bowl with one of the topping choices and spoon toppings over it and ensure it’s covered.  Place on wax paper on a baking sheet with wax paper and place into freezer for a couple minutes to allow it to harden. 
Tips: You don’t have to use a topping.  I used dark and milk chocolate to make a pattern or put an almond silver on top.  Be creative, you can really do anything here. 

Five-Minute Fudge

Original recipe found here.

From Jen

Serves 32 (2 pounds)

1 bag semisweet chocolate morsels (12 ounces)
9 ounces butterscotch morsels (3/4 of a 12 ounce bag)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can or package of walnut halves (8 ounces)
1/2 cup currants (a couple handfuls)
8-inch cake pan, lightly greased with softened butter
Candied red and green cherries, for garnish (optional)

1.  Place a heavy pot on the stove and pre-heat it over low heat. Add chocolate and butterscotch morsels and condensed milk and stir until morsels are melted and condensed milk is combined. Save the empty condensed milk can.
2.  Stir in the vanilla and remove the fudge from heat. Add the nuts and currants and stir in immediately.
3.  Cover the empty condensed milk can with plastic wrap and center it in the greased cake pan. Spoon fudge into pan around can, making sure to center the can if it drifts.
4.  The fudge will set up almost immediately. Garnish can only be added in the first minute or two that the fudge is in the pan, so work quickly. Decorate your wreath with "holly" made from cut candied red and green cherries. A wreath left plain can be garnished with a pretty fabric bow when serving.
Chill covered in the refrigerator. Slice the fudge very thin when ready to serve – a little goes a long way! 

New options/ twists added by Jen

‘Smores Fudge


1.5 cups crushed graham crackers

1 cup mini marshmallows


Prepare fudge as outlined above, up to and including the vanilla. Remove from heat. Add the graham crackers and marshmallows and stir in immediately. Drop and spread into a parchment lined pan.

*Optional- Scatter a handful or two of marshmallows in the bottom of the pan. Once set, invert pan for a marshmallow topped fudge.

Shortbread and Toffee Fudge


1-2 packages of shortbread (any brand) other cookies would work too

1.5 packages Skor bits


Prepare fudge as outlined above, up to and including the vanilla. Remove from heat. Add the cookie bits and skor bits and stir in immediately. Drop and spread into a parchment lined pan.

*Optional- Scatter a handful or two of the skor bits in the bottom of the pan. Once set, invert pan for a toffee bit topped fudge.

Peanut and Pretzel Fudge


9 ounces peanut butter chips (3/4 of a 12 ounce bag)

1.5   cups pretzels (broken into pieces)

1 cup peanuts (salted or unsalted depending on preference)

0.75 cups Reece’s Pieces


Prepare fudge as outlined above, up to and including the vanilla, replacing the butterscotch morsels for the peanut butter chips. Remove from heat. Add the pretzels, peanuts, and Reece’s Pieces and stir in immediately. Drop and spread into a parchment lined pan.

*Optional- Scatter a handful or two of the pretzels, peanuts and Reece’s Pieces in the bottom of the pan. Once set, invert pan for a pretzel, peanut and Reece’s Pieces topped fudge.

Raisin, Coconut and Rice Krispies Fudge



Shredded coconut

Rice Krispies


Prepare fudge as outlined above, up to and including the vanilla. Remove from heat. Add the raisins, coconut and Rice Krispies and stir in immediately. Drop and spread into a parchment lined pan.

*Optional- Scatter a handful or two of raisins, coconut and Rice Krispies in the bottom of the pan. Once set, invert pan for a raisins, coconut and Rice Krispies topped fudge.

Note: This is a very forgiving recipe is you keep the chocolate chips, butterscotch bits and milk proportions the same. Options are endless with the type of chocolate or bits (mint flavored, white chocolate, etc), add ins (nuts, Oreos, dried fruit, etc.) or flavorings (orange extract, peppermint, etc.) used.