Baking holiday cookies makes us oh so happy. And not only does it make us happy, but it also makes our friends, our co-workers, and our family happy. Why not spread a little joy this holiday season? Cookies also happen to make the perfect gift, particularly for people you might feel awkward spending money on, like your boss. Just put them in a cute tin or glass jar or box, tie with ribbon, and your work is done. Below, we have listed a couple of our favorite baking recipes, from the lovely Martha Stewart:
CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD BARS
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 45 minutes, plus cooling
Makes 16 servings.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper. Dust paper and sides of pan with cocoa; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin-pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and sour cream until smooth. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift gingerbread from pan. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 16 squares. Before serving, dust bars with confectioners sugar, if desired. (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Makes 24 servings.
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the filling:
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (about 2 cups) pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg; pulse just until a dough forms.
Transfer dough to prepared pan; with floured fingers and an offset spatula, press firmly into bottom and 3/4 inch up sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Prick bottom of dough; bake until lightly golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.
Make the filling: In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, until smooth; continue boiling, without stirring, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream and salt; mix in pecans.
Assemble and bake: Spoon hot filling evenly over crust, using spoon to arrange and press in nuts so they fit snugly (create as flat a surface as possible).
Bake until bubbling and amber-colored, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
Using foil, lift cake from pan; peel off foil. With a sharp knife, trim edges (if desired).
Cut into 6 even strips; cut each strip crosswise into 4 even strips to make 24 bars.
Feb 09, 2011 - 04:54 PM