Monday, December 13, 2010

Cookie Day!

Every year, my friend Aminta and I spend one entire day baking hundreds of cookies. We have a few favorites that we bake over and over, but we also experiment and try new cookies, too.

Yesterday (Sunday) was our cookie day this year, and we had our share of disasters and winners.

The first disaster was Alton Brown's Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel cookies (recipe here: I'm pretty sure the problem was my fault and not Alton's recipe. See, I ran to the grocery store Saturday night, and they had sugar cookie dough on sale for half off (it expired just after the holidays, but I figured it would be fine). With a coupon I had, it was practically free. I decided to pick them up and substitute them for the sugar cookie dough in his recipe. I followed the rest of his recipe exactly. I melted unsweetened chocolate and mixed it and vanilla into one roll of dough. In the next, I mixed an egg yolk, peppermint extract, and crushed candy canes. I rolled them out, stacked them on top of each other, and rolled them into a log. It looked beautiful. Then, I put it in the fridge to cool until the next day.

Well, cookie day arrived, and I eagerly sliced into my peppermint pinwheel log. The slices looked lovely and smelled of sweet peppermint. I did notice that the peppermint swirl was gooey, though, but I wasn't too worried. I popped them into the oven and went to peek on them 7 minutes later. They didn't bake as much as they just melted. As they melted, they seemed to release peppermint into the air that was so strong, it made my eyes water. Oops.

Cookie #2 was a complete success. I made maamoul cookies as Aminta shopped for cookie ingredients. It was my first time having a maamoul cookie. The best way I can describe them is a flaky, buttery, Middle Eastern cookie stuffed with dried fruits and nuts. They were incredible! I used this recipe: I couldn't find crystallized ginger or fresh dates at my grocery store, so mixed a few of the various fillings they have listed. I used apricot jam, toasted walnuts, and dried dates. It's fabulous.

Once Aminta arrived, she set to work on our Salted Maple Walnut Thumbprints. They were simple, beautiful and delicious. I wanted to eat the whole batch. This is the recipe she used:

I began my work on the truffles. First, I made mocha truffles using a recipe I created by merging a few different ones together (Here's my recipe: Then, I used that same basic recipe, only I substituted peppermint extract for the instant coffee to make peppermint truffles. Those, I rolled in crushed candy canes. I got that idea from O Magazine, which featured a peppermint truffle in a recent issue.

Last year, Aminta made a fabulous lemon-pistachio cookie that Andrew raved about for weeks. I suggested she make it again. I thought it had been a Martha Stewart recipe, but (wouldn't you know?) she had multiple listings when I searched for lemon pistachio. We printed out one we thought would work. Unfortunately, we didn't have pistachios on hand, and we didn't want to run to the store and spend more money when we had bags of pecans and walnuts available. So, we decided to make lemon-walnut cookies. Aminta worked on those, and they came out surprisingly well. They were chewy and flavorful and reminded me of a breakfast granola. I don't think it was the same recipe from last year, but it was very good.

Here's the recipe she used this year:
And here's the recipe that I think she used last year:

I made a double batch of Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies, using some alterations that my friend, Corinne, uses. I did half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half dark chocolate chips, and then, for the nuts, I did entire pecan halves. They're incredible. I made about 100 chocolate chip cookies. Haha.

As I worked on meticulously on rolling the truffles (they took a while to set), Aminta made some berry shortbread thumbprints ( and some chocolate peanut butter cup cookies ( The shortbread thumbprints started to melt in the oven, just like the pinwheels! It was the strangest thing, especially considering that we've used that recipe in the past. However, some kept their lovely shape, and they still tasted good, so we decided they were a keeper.

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