Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookie Week

It's Cookie Week in the Fleur Cakes kitchen. I'm baking cookies, not for our own festivities, but for gift boxes that are given to clients at Expertec. Yes, they fix cars and trucks there but really, delicious homemade cookies are their thing. So the clients don't get free oil changes at Christmas, they get cookies.



Making cookie gift boxes is a challenge. I have to choose cookies that will package well. That means no soft cookies that will stick together or frosted cookies that need lots of room to keep their neat appearance. I don't include elaborately decorated cookies with royal icing because I want cookies that will be moist and delicious with every bite. Just like wedding cakes. The beautiful royal icing and fondants are lovely to look at but not the most delightful to eat. I choose flavor over fancy.

I give careful thought to the selection of cookies too, trying to give a variety of flavors. This box contains the must-have holiday chocolate and nuts, but also mint, lemon, cranberry, dates, caramel and cream cheese. I try to make cookies that are both nostalgic and uncommon enough that they won't be appearing on every other cookie plate available at the party. This year there isn't as much variety in the shapes of the cookies as I have done in previous years simply because I didn't do any rolled and cut varieties.

The cookie selection is turtle brownies, date pinwheels, chocolate mint snow caps, lemon cream cheese wreaths and cranberry pecan noels.

The cranberry pecan noels have been included every year in these Christmas cookie boxes because it meets all my criteria for flavor, packaging ease and holiday appeal. I thought I'd share with you how I make them.

These are actually a Martha Stewart cookie recipe. I'll let you get the ingredients list at the link. I can always count on Martha to have well-tested recipes that work every time. I find myself tweaking a lot of the recipes too with good results.

The predominant flavor of this cookie is butter so it is vitally important to use the best tasting, quality butter. Of course I say this about everything I bake. Especially pie crust. Cakes too. So when do you not use best quality butter. Um.....never. And please, only real vanilla. Again, the best flavored cookies are made with the best flavored ingredients.

I'm a snob and not ashamed to say it.

Using soft butter and white sugar, beat them until they are fluffy. Walk away from the mixer and fold laundry or something. Come back five minutes later and find sweet fluffy goodness. Beating the butter and sugar to this extent will give your cookies a more tender crumb with the sugar thoroughly dissolved.





Mix in the rest of the ingredients as directed. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap.




Shape the dough into a log and then wrap in the plastic. Continue to roll the plastic-wrapped dough to get all the bumps out for a nice smooth log that will yield nice round cookies.




Each one of these is one recipe. I don't divide the dough as the recipe instructs and don't find it too big to handle. Refrigerate the log for several hours or overnight until firm.





Slicing the log with a serrated knife leaves the cookie with nice color from the cranberries and nuts.





These cookies are so easy! Just lay them out on a cookie sheet to bake.



These are tender and buttery with the holiday flavor and color of cranberry and pecans. They ship well too for your far away gift recipients.


What kind of cookies are you making this year? Any good recipes you can recommend that meet my gift box requirements?

7 comments:

  1. Do you ever do Springerle? That is a favorite from my childhood. I love the anise flavor, and they can be so pretty when you use a springerle roller although we just used the side of a pretty perfume bottle. :) They do take awhile, though, with extra time to dry out.

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  2. I always look at recipes like that and kick myself because I don't have the tools I need. I've just got to get the pretty little tools so I can make them. Good idea though!

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  3. Those look amazing. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I would like to make these this year -
    http://blog.imaginechildhood.com/imagine-childhood/2011/12/-coal-cookies.html

    I make a cookie called chocolate crinkles similar to your snow caps, but this one looks like it might be worth a try. Happy baking!

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  4. Your cookies look wonderful and your boxes are so pretty. I wish I was a customer!
    I am so with you on the royal icing cookies. If I spend that much time on anything it better taste good and those just don't.
    I have two cookies that are old family favorites and might meet your strict criteria. One is called "Grandma Cookies" and has ground dates and raisins. The cookies are about 4" in diameter. They keep very well and are really really good but not real pretty. They are a rolled cookie. The other one is called "maringoons" and are my sisters favorite Christmas cookie. They are a meringue based cookie with cornflakes, coconut and mini chocolate chips. Kind of picky to bake because you have to watch them like a hawk.
    I am fascinated with those lemon wreaths they are beautiful!

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  5. This year, for my gift boxes, I made Andes mint cookies, Almond Spritz tree press cookies, lemon snowball cookies, gingerbread cookies, cinnamon sugar cookies, chocolate fudge w/ marshmallows and chocolate peppermint bark. I filled brown bakers boxes with goodies and tied them with red/green/white bakers twine. Then I added a handmade tag that said "Merry Christmas." I love making gifts like this for friends, co-workers and neighbors! Thanks for sharing your selection - they look delicious! :)

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  6. Kathy, the lemon wreaths are also a Marta Stewart recipe. They are reeeeaaally good. Found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/339043/cream-cheese-lemon-bows

    Cara! Sounds like you are going to give me a run for the business! The boxes sound great. I'm interested in the Andes Mint cookies...

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  7. Here's the recipe - they turn out perfect every time and I have had so many people ask me to make them! http://tootsie.com/rec_cdmcookies.php
    Enjoy! :)

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