For this year’s cookie swap, I wanted to make a cookie with a technique I hadn’t tried before. Sliced cookies sounded like a good option, as I typically find rolled cookies a little too tedious for big batches, and I haven’t had good luck with the consistency and size of my drop cookies (see last year’s ginger snaps).
Instead of consulting the Internet for inspiration, as I typically do, I consulted the public library’s cookbook shelf and found “Christmas Cookies from the Whimsical Bakehouse.” This was a great resource for all sorts of creative recipes, including shortbread snowflakes, spritz cookies and even a 3-D Christmas tree, with chapters on each cookie-making method.
Several cookies caught my eye, but I ultimately decided on a combination cookie with two doughs baked in one: cherry-almond and chocolate-walnut. They’re called yin-yang cookies in the book, but mine really didn’t turn out looking that way (as you’ll see below). The idea is to make to separate doughs, roll them into logs and then roll them together into one log that you slice later.
Here’s what went into these combo cookies (note the Tillamook butter). The two doughs were pretty simple, but it did help to have a stand mixer. And a word of warning, this recipe makes a ton of cookies — up to 6 dozen, depending on how big your rolls turn out.
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched almonds (chopped)
1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add egg, orange juice and extract.
3. Add flour, cherries and almonds.
2 sticks butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup walnuts (chopped)
1. Cream butter, sugar and extract.
2. Add flour, cocoa and walnuts.
Once both doughs are mixed, make four logs out of each dough and let chill briefly. Combine two logs of each dough so you have four double rolls. Wrap and let these chill overnight (at least 8 hours is best). Cut into 1/4-inch slices and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees until not quite brown.
As part of my goal to learn from my previous baking experiences, I’m trying to become more patient when it comes to one of the foundations of baking — waiting until the butter is soft before creaming it with the sugar. And perhaps it helped the consistency of the cookies this time around. (This photo is from early on in the process, so it doesn’t have that silky, pale yellow sheen yet.)
The cherries (actually cherry juice-infused Craisins, which added an interesting albeit potentially fake flavor) and the almonds looked so lovely chopped up together. In fact, cranberries (or any red berry) remind me a lot of the holidays (and fittingly, Hannah’s cookies had some cranberries, too!).
After combining the ingredients for the cherry-almond dough, I mixed the chocolate-walnut separately. I was surprised that this dough didn’t call for an
Each dough got separated into four logs, so I ended up with eight logs that I needed to roll together into four mega-logs. These were supposed to look like yin-yangs, but the directions didn’t help me that much, so I just opted to see how they turned out.
The best thing about roll cookies is that they chill in the refrigerator for a long time, which means the dough is easier to work with and they won’t run into each other while baking.
When I cut up the logs after a whole night of chilling, they looked a little too much like salami …
… but they baked up just fine. I had some trouble rolling the chocolate-walnut dough into a cohesive log (and honestly I was surprised this recipe didn’t call for an egg), but they texture incorporated just fine with the cherry-almond when they baked.
I also wasn’t sure if I’d like two cookies in one, or if they were big enough, but I hope the bloggers I sent them to — the Lushers of Life with the Lushers, Vicki of My Purple Kitchen, Cookie of Cookie Loves and my blog partner, Hannah — enjoyed them.
Lastly, I have to give a shout-out to the amazing cookies I got from across the country.
First were Hannah’s cranberry-white chocolate shortbread, which looked and tasted wonderful.
Next were white chocolate peanut butter krispies from Mollie of Sprinkles of Life. These had almond bark, peanut butter, mini marshmallows, peanuts and crispy rice cereal. These had great texture and a great combination of flavors.
Third were amaretti cookies, made from almond flour, from Kristin of Nanna’s Cookbook. These seemed so simple, but they looked and tasted elegant.
Last were double chocolate biscotti from Kelley of The Culinary Enthusiast. They went great with my morning tea!
Here’s a photo of all of them together on one plate.
I ended up having so many cookies (four dozen, plus extras from my batch) that I got to share with my friends and coworkers.
A couple things I’ll try to do next year, though: 1. Use social media better to share my cookie swap experience. 2. Come up with a cute (and safe) way of packaging. Another cookie swap success. I’m excited to do it again next year.
Happy holiday baking!