I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but in my house, holiday treats begin and end with cookies and candy (usually chocolate…). For some, favorite Christmas cakes or fruit-filled stollens are what make their holidays bright; and of course, that’s awesome, but I look forward to this special time of the year when I can pull out the fun and festive cutters and indulge in traditional, as well as new recipes that I’ve been dying to try. These Salted Chocolate Dipped Pecan Sandies are a wonderful way to get the celebrations off to a sweet start. Plus, these little gems ship really well if you mail holiday treat packages to friends and family. I promise Salted Chocolate Dipped Pecan Sandies will be a welcome addition to any cookie tray!
Ah, cookies! In any shape, flavor, or form, they’re pretty much always welcome whenever I make them. Which, I’ll admit isn’t all that often because I’m kind of a lazy cookie baker. Shocking, I know…. Making the batter is fine and preparing the first couple of trays for the oven is okay too, but after that I tend to lose enthusiasm for the process. Enter…Raspberry Shortbread Cookies. Easy, small-batch, delicious and pretty to boot!
These were made with maple sugar for those of you reducing your refined sugar consumption, but they can easily be made with granulated sugar. When you’re having a cookie craving but aren’t feeling all that energetic, these little morsels will satisfy.
Preheat Oven to 350
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup maple sugar (or 1 cup granulated sugar)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Seedless, fruit juice-sweetened raspberry jam
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, if you prefer)
- 1/4 teaspoon vegetable shortening
For the cookies:
- Beat butter and whichever sugar you choose with an electric mixer until blended.
- Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt; beat until smooth.
- Using a spoon, stir in the flour to form a stiff dough.
- Divide dough in half. Form each half into a rough cylinder. Wrap each dough cylinder in waxed paper; rolling back and forth on countertop until it the dough smooths out and forms a round, smooth 1 ½-inch diameter roll.
- Refrigerate dough until firm.
- Cut dough into ¼-inch slices. Roll each slice into a ball. Make an indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb or use the back of a ¼ teaspoon (the round part) to make a more uniform indentation and fill with ¼ teaspoon raspberry jam.
- Arrange cookies about 2-inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Place sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. The cookies should be lightly brown on the bottom.
For the chocolate drizzle:
- Measure chocolate chips and shortening into a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50% power for 45 seconds or until the chocolate is completely smooth when stirred (be careful not to overheat the chocolate – only microwave for additional 10 second intervals if needed to fully melt the chocolate).
- Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle each cookie. (I poured the chocolate into a squeeze bottle and then drizzled it, which gives more uniform results, but the fork method is a little faster and easier.)
- After cooling on a wire rack, place in an air-tight container until ready to serve.
Yield: 24-30 cookies
NOTE: These cookies freeze well for about a month or so.
You may have heard it said that chocolate makes everything better, and (big surprise!) you’ll get no argument from this corner. Case in point: Palmiers (you know, those lovely, buttery cookies with the crispy layers) were served at a recent work event, but were obviously the least favorite of the goodies offered. So I’m looking at them, wondering why that would be, and it came to me. Chocolate! Of course, they need chocolate! What else immediately turns a relatively modest cookie into an irresistible delight?! And so I took the leftover Palmiers and turned them into chocolate dipped Palmiers. Just call me the chocolate fairy! From the perspective of a chocolate lover…soooo much better! Fair warning though, chocolate dipping is habit-forming, because there are just so many things that are made more yummy with the addition of a chocolate coating – the list is a long one. Here are a few more options to get you started: Nutter Butter cookies, Oreos, piroulines, peanut butter filled pretzels, oatmeal cookies, Bing cherries, orange slices, shortbread cookies (of course!) and many more. Any of these dipped in chocolate are great for a gotta-have-something-in-a-hurry chocolate treat. I think most of them are elegant enough for a dinner party too. I got my palmiers at Costco, but I’m sure you can find them in bakeries most everywhere. If you are feeling a bit more energetic, try this palmier recipe from the Food Network.
- 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (I used Ghiradelli)
- 2 tsp. vegetable shortening, divided
- Peanut butter stuffed pretzels nuggets
- Pirouline rolled wafers (various flavored fillings)
- Divide chocolate chips into two microwave safe containers (1 ½ cups in each container). Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable shortening to each container. If dipping rolled wafers or pretzel rods, you will want a sturdy water glass or other similar cylindrical container to melt your chocolate in so you can dip the wafers at least half way up. I used a large soup bowl in which to melt the chocolate for dipping the palmiers.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave. It’s important to melt the chocolate slowly so it doesn’t get too hot; microwave at 50% power, stirring the chocolate every 30 seconds. Depending on your microwave, the chocolate usually melts in about a minute and a half total. If your chocolate isn’t fully melted and a few chips remain, stir until they’ve all been melted by the hot chocolate. If you feel the chocolate still needs more melting, microwave for an additional 15 seconds at 50% power. It’s also very important to not get any water in the chocolate – moisture will cause the chocolate to seize and become lumpy and unusable for dipping.
- For the palmiers: using your fingers dip one side of the cookie in chocolate until half is covered. Shake excess chocolate off the cookie and place on waxed paper lined baking sheet.
- For the pirouline wafers: again, use your fingers to dip the roll wafers into the melted chocolate in the cylindrical container until about half to three-quarters up the wafer, shaking the excess off and place on waxed paper.
- For the pretzel nuggets: use some small prongs to dip nugget in chocolate until fully covered, shake excess chocolate off and place on waxed paper lined baking sheet.
- You can leave your chocolate dipped delights at room temperature to harden or if you’re in a hurry, place them, still on the wax paper-lined sheets, in the frig until they set up. Store in an airtight plastic container until you’re ready to serve them.
Servings: I made 25 palmiers, 20 piroulines, and 20 peanut butter pretzel nuggets with just a little chocolate left over.
Whenever I make butterhorns I remember my Mom making something very similar that she called “pie dough cinnamon rolls”. When she would make pastry for her pies there would always be the “scraps” of dough that were trimmed from the pie crusts; she would collect these, form them into a ball and roll them out. Then they were sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar, dotted with butter, rolled up jelly-roll fashion and sliced into mini “cinnamon rolls”. I loved her pies, but I loved those little morsels even more and would gobble every last crumb. My version is basically the same except that it includes toasted pecans and they’re shaped into crescents and you have the option to dust them with powdered sugar or brush them with a glaze. Also, I short-cut the process by using Marie Callender’s pie crusts, which are wonderful when you’re time-crunched or low on baking energy/motivation. Give them a try. I hope they’ll become a new favorite.
- 2 packages of Marie Callender’s pie crust dough (4 individual pie crusts), room temperature
- ¾ cup of butter (1 ½ sticks), softened (should be spreadable)
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and finely chopped
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
Preheat oven to 375°
- On a lightly floured board or countertop, unroll one of the pie crusts.
- With a rubber spatula, spread 3 tablespoons of the softened butter evenly over the pie dough. Spread it all the way to the edge of the dough.
- In a medium bowl, mix the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans together until thoroughly combined. You will have 2 cups of this mixture.
- Take ½ cup of the sugar mixture and sprinkle it evenly over the butter layer; again, sprinkling it to the edges of the dough.
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into eight triangles.
- Beginning at the wide end, gently roll the dough to the pointed end. Place butterhorns 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed cookie sheet. The pointed end of the butterhorn should be down. Repeat with remaining triangles.
- Bake on the middle oven rack for 20-25 minutes, until the bottoms of the butterhorns are lightly browned. Transfer to a cooling rack. If you choose to sprinkle confectioners sugar on your butterhorns, wait until they’ve cooled completely.
- Repeat steps 1-7 for remaining 3 pie crusts.
Makes 32 butterhorns.
If you want a glaze for your butterhorns – mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 3-3 1/2 tablespoons milk and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla together until combined. Pour or brush over cooled butterhorns.
Note #1: This recipe is easily divided in half. Butterhorns are a favorite where I work, so I made a lot.
Note #2: As you bake these, you will see that some of the butter will melt and run out of the butterhorns, but not to worry, that sugar/butter combination will begin to caramelize around these yummies; one of the things that make them sooo irresistible.
Oh my! If your sweet tooth is calling – this is how you answer it! And if you want to treat the sweethearts and valentines in your life to chocolatey, creamy, fun-to-eat deliciousness, these Chocolate Whoopie Pies are just the thing! I confess that this is my first whoopie pie baking experience. Let me tell you, I’ve been missing out on some serious cookie fun! This is another recipe using a cake mix as it’s base; it’s such a great shortcut and makes it super easy! And there can be so many variations with these cookies; just choose your favorite flavor of cake and share the love!
- 1 box devil’s food cake mix
- 2 eggs
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Sprinkles for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°
- Combine cake mix, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. The dough will be sticky.
- Scoop out chunks of dough that are approximately the size of a walnut (about 1 tablespoon).
- Roll dough between hands forming a ball. Place each ball on the cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Press down with your fingertips until it forms a half-inch disc.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
- For Cream Cheese Filling: Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla extract and one-half cup of the powdered sugar at a time, beating after each addition, until you’ve added all of the confectioners’ sugar.
- Spoon filling onto the bottom half of the cookies, smoothing until it’s about ¼” from the edge of the cookie, top with another cookie and roll in sprinkles to decorate.
Note: If you’re a coconut fan, you can mix in ½ cup finely shredded coconut to the cream cheese filling. Delish!
Oh my, these Hazelnut Orange Cookies are so good! Toasted hazelnuts complemented with zesty orange and topped with semi-sweet chocolate drizzle… yes, we have a winner! I must admit that I’m biased, because hazelnut and chocolate are two of my most favorite flavors; but then when you add orange to the mix in these cookies, you take it up a notch or three. And they’re great too because they go together easily; you can make them ahead, leaving them to chill in the frig for a day or two until you have the time to pull them out, slice and bake them. Yet another cookie recipe for my “favorites” list.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- zest from 2 oranges (approximately 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups flour
- 3 ½ cups toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
- ¾ cup of chocolate chips, melted in microwave (about 1 minute on high). Stir until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together butter, both sugars and salt.
- Add vanilla and orange zest; beat well.
- Mix in flour and hazelnuts to form a soft dough.
- Divide dough in half and form each into a 10 inch log, (approximately 2″ diameter) cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Cut ¼ inch slices from the logs. Place on a greased baking sheet 1” apart.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until lightly browned.
- Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.
- When cookies have cooled, drizzle with chocolate.
Makes 4 dozen.