Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Gift For Later

I love just about every aspect of the holidays. The weather… traditions... warm blankets… decorations… community cheer… surprise… need I go on? One thing I'm not as fond of, however, is that you get completely inundated with sweets. That may sound strange, but I mean it. I love sweets, and I love eating them, but when I have 17 different options from 17 different people, I end up enjoying them a just a little less because it's sweets overload. Plus, you have to eat them pretty soon after receiving them to make sure they keep. So much pressure!

Something I wanted to do for Christmas was to make cookies to give to people, but I had mixed feelings since I would be contributing to the exact "problem" I just described. So, I decided to do a homemade version of individual frozen cookies, that way those on the receiving end will have the choice of when to eat them without worrying they'll go bad.

I used the cookie recipe that I made recipe art out of last year.
The recipe actually hangs in the perfect spot to reference while cooking!


As the recipe art suggests, the ingredients are:

1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda


I always get my mise en place ready before I start to make everything quick and easy.


First, cream the butter and both sugars together. Then, add the vanilla and eggs. Last, add the flour and baking soda.


My favorite version of these cookies has white chocolate chips, but knowing that other people may have different preferences, I split the dough in thirds and added M&Ms and chocolate chips to the other portions.


Next, I cut parchment paper into roughly 5"x5" squares.


To make sure each cookie was the same size, I used an ice cream scooper to dole each of them out (I use one that's 1 ¾" wide, but they have a smaller and a larger version at Williams Sonoma).


Just plop the dough down...


Then, sandwich with another piece of parchment, and smush it down a little. Not only does it take up less space this way, I like how the cookies turn out better when they start in this flat shape in the oven rather than in a spherical one (this way they're less cakey).


After I sandwiched all of the dough between pieces of parchment, I stacked them up in 6 piles of 5 cookies each (i.e., this recipe makes 30 cookies).


Next I used some wax-lined tissue paper and a cellophane bag to bundle them up. The wax paper came from The Container Store, and the cellophane bags and paper tags came from Crate & Barrel.


Granted, you can't store these under the tree for any period longer than a quick photoshoot (they're back in the freezer waiting to be delivered), but they sure do make for a cute picture! On the back I'll write the baking directions, which are 10-13 minutes at 350 degrees. I spent a long time combining and tweaking different recipes, and this version is my idea of heaven. The brown sugar makes the edges crisp and sweet, but the middle is still soft and chewy without being too thick or cakey. 



I actually bake these directly on the parchment paper, and as soon as they come out of the oven I pull the parchment & cookie onto my granite counters to cool down just enough to not fall apart. Then I eat them with a glass of milk. Mmm… delish. 

What are your favorite things to cook during the holidays?

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