Ginger Spice Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

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I’ve always shied away from making spice cookies mostly because my uncle is famous in our family for his version. His are of the gingersnap variety, i.e. crunchy. This recipe, Ginger Spice Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks, is not crunchy, and thus I don’t feel like I’m invading on my uncle’s cookie celebrity.

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In fact, these cookies are chewy and moist, thanks to the applesauce and molasses. What is most unbelievable is that, before adding the white chocolate, these cookies are free of fat. Sugar, on the other hand, is plentiful. But what’s the holiday season without a little sweetness? Store these in an airtight container–the cookies get chewier with time.

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Ginger Spice Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Makes 18-24 cookies

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened

1/3 cup molasses

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp dried ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 large egg whites, room temperature

1 4oz. white chocolate baking bar [I used Ghiradelli], chopped

1/2 cup sugar [I used brown] + pinch of cinnamon, for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie trays with parchment paper.

In a large bowl with electric mixer, mix brown sugar, applesauce and molasses for 5 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, spices, soda, and salt. 

Add egg whites to wet mixture, beat for 1 minute. At lowest mixer speed, add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Once incorporated, mix for 1 more minute. Stir in white chocolate chunks.

Chill dough in freezer for 15 minutes, or in refrigerator for longer, even overnight.  

In a shallow dish, mix sugar with cinnamon. By the tablespoonful, roll dough into balls and roll in sugar mixture. Place on sheet, with room to spread. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on sheet, then place on cooling racks.

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My Grandmother’s Favorite Cookies

My grandfather had a passion for genealogy, and I believe most everyone in my family was affected by his zest for family heritage. He kept a diary for most of his life, something that most people can’t say they have done. I was always intrigued by family histories, particularly that of my maternal grandmother. Born in Egypt but of Russian heritage, she immigrated to the U.S when she was 18. I’ve always admired her independence, perhaps because, like me, she is an only child. During the holidays, my mother told me my grandmother would be visiting. She also hinted that my grandmother’s favorite cookies were Russian Tea Cakes.

These treats also go by Mexican Wedding Cakes, so I’m not sure whether to attribute the recipe to one culture or another. However, the combination of butter, sugar, finely chopped nuts and some vanilla is ubiquitously delicious. I used good ol’ Betty Crocker’s recipe, which you can find here.

My grandmother did not realize I had made her these cookies on Christmas Day until my aunt ran into the living room exclaiming how amazing these cookies were. I’ve never seen my grandmother leap out of her seat as quickly as she did, particularly considering that my grandmother claims she would prefer a piece of bread at the end of dinner, rather than a sweet.

The way the cookie melts in your mouth is surely why so many people commented on these bites of goodness. Not to mention, that messy powdered sugar that remains on your lips after taking the first bite is a cute look.

Sweet and Salty Granola

A few weeks ago, I made a Christmas gift. No, it wasn’t some sloppily-made ceramic vase. Nope, it wasn’t an arts and crafts photo frame with pom-poms and glitter. Nor was it a gift certificate for “one free read” of a book (unfortunately this is a gift I once gave to my Dad when I was younger). 

Instead, I made Sweet and Salty Granola, using the recipe from 11 Madison Park (find it here on Serious Eats). It has an entire tablespoon of salt, and it truly is salty but in a finger-licking good sort of fashion. The dried sour cherries provide great contrast to the maple, salt, and nuts. I’m keeping this recipe in my back pocket from now on. 

Gluten Free Salted Caramel Cookie Cups

I know Christmas is impending when the traffic within a ten mile radius of the mall is at a stand still. Thankfully, I went to yoga this morning and got my patience all sorted out, which made the traffic less bothersome.

Other signs of Christmas have included, but are not limited to:

-my mother cleaning the house, despite the cleaning ladies arriving the next day,

-my cat eating through the cord of Christmas lights (and is surprisingly still alive, currently digging through tissue paper),

-the arrival of family from all across the States,

-fifty degree weather (just kidding, not a sign of Christmas),

-a fridge filled with appetizers and salads up the wahzoo,

-eating cheesecake for dinner.

Just to add to the cookie craziness that has been in my kitchen and on my blog, here’s another recipe for the collection! One of my best friends is gluten intolerant, so with the help of another best friend, we adapted this recipe, Turtle Tassies, to suit a gluten free diet. These caramel pecan cookie cups are decadent, sweet, and perfectly bite-size. Not to mention, it was impossible for me to tell that these were gluten free. The package of cookie mix calls for vanilla, so if the gluten intolerant person you’re serving is severely gluten intolerant, make sure to use GF vanilla. Be careful taking the cookies out of the trays, as a few of mine weren’t baked enough and couldn’t support the caramel (my oven also cooks unevenly…).

1 package GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Butter, egg, vanilla (as noted on cookie mix)

3/4 cup GF semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 (14 oz) bags of caramels, unwrapped

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini cupcake pan with cooking spray. Make dough according to cookie mix box. Make 36 balls of dough about one inch in size. Press each ball into pan, press up sides to create a shell. Bake 8 to 9 minutes until edges start to brown. In a small saucepan, place caramels and cream and heat until melted. Reduce heat to low. Remove pans from oven and use the back of a wooden spoon to press gently on the sides and bottom of each cup. Bake shells for 2-3 more minutes. Remove from oven, place 2-3 chocolate chips in each cup. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of caramel into cups, top with pecans and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Christmas = Andes Chocolate Mints

Every Christmas, my late grandmother would bring over Andes Chocolate Mints. Similarly, every Easter she would have a stock of Russell Stover lemon squares, which from my google searches seem to no longer exist (hint to Russell Stover: if you bring these candies back to the market, I will buy every single box).

Chocolate and mint are like chocolate and peanut butter. Or for me, raw onions and ketchup and/or mustard. It is the perfect combination. Not to mention, while Andes Mints still make an appearance at my family’s Christmas dinner, why not put them in a cookie?

This recipe from Baker’s Royale is terrific and relatively easy. If you have a standing mixer, this recipe is very easy. Don’t have a standing mixer? Be prepared to be mixing the ingredients for a good fifteen minutes. My arms are jacked now. Because of all the mixing, the eggs take the place of most dry ingredients and butter (so hypothetically these are healthier–except that then you add in chocolate and Andes). Espresso granules are added for some extra oomph, and the bittersweet cookie against the sweet, minty Andes is delicious. The cookie is almost meringue-like because of the eggs, which at first was a turn-off for me when reading the recipe because I like soft, squishy cookies. But don’t run away because these cookies melt in your mouth with a minty-chocolate taste. What more could you ask for, besides Russell Stover lemon squares or raw onions and ketchup?