Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Peppermint Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

I have probably the biggest sweet tooth ever (which in reality isn't a good thing). So every time my favorite candy and cookie brands release a new flavor, I like to get a package to try it out. For the seasonal flavors I can't always remember if I tried it or not. Such was the case for the Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses. While I still can't remember if I've tried it or not, I decided to bake with it. The perfect opportunity came when Auntie Vicki sent out an email about Christmas Day and I offered to bake these. They're basically like the Peanut Butter Blossom cookies with the regular kisses except instead of peanut butter the cookie is chocolate and brownie-like. The Hershey's website does have a recipe for these but I decided on one I found on Pinterest (I really need to cut down on my Pinterest use for baking).

Spice Cake Cookies

Every year for her birthday Nonni gets her favorite spice cake. To me this means she would like the cookie version (or any sweet with lots of spices). So a couple years ago I found a from-scratch cookie version and gave it to her in the form of a jar for her Christmas gift (you know what I'm talking about - the dry ingredients for a baked good are layered in a jar with the recipe attached and all you have to do is empty the jar, add the wet ingredients, and bake). Not sure it went over well. So this year I decided to make the cookies. I thought I had pinned a from-scratch recipe but all I could find was one with the spice cake mix. Which was perfect since that's what Auntie Vicki uses to make the cake. And it's just how I like to use box mixes nowadays.

Death by Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last year when I was picking out Kevin's girlfriend Helen's present all Kevin would tell me for her favorite flavors was that she liked chocolate (which I kinda already knew). In a way, it wasn't that helpful (as evidenced by how I picked Kevin's gift, I can be indecisive at times). Still, over the last year as I've come across super-chocolatey recipes on Pinterest, I've saved them. I ended up having quite a few chocolate recipes to choose from so I just picked one of the death-by-chocolate cookie recipes at random. I have many, many more years to use the dozen or so other recipes.

White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

As I've said before, one of few things my mom likes that almost no one else in our family does is coconut. So even when I don't have coconut in my pantry, I tend to focus on the coconut recipes on Pinterest when searching for Mom's presents. For Christmas I chose a white chocolate coconut cookies recipe from - believe it or not - Ebay (apparently they have a whole section on their site for recipes and how-to guides and such).

Beer Brownies

When picking out Kevin's beer-infused present, I just kind of randomly picked one that looked quick and easy (keep in mind I had about 7 separate baked goods to make. Quick and easy had to happen at some point). And what's quicker and easier than something that goes in a square pan? Well, these were a bit more complicated than that but I was still able to get them and another quick batch of cookies done by dinner.

Beer, Chocolate, Peanut, and Pretzel Cookies

I'm not much of an alcohol drinker. Beer, wine, mixed drinks - not my thing. I tried to make them my thing after I turned 21 but it just didn't happen. My dad and brothers, however, love beer. Dad and Kevin even have those apps where you can search for new breweries and kinds of beer. So last year I started looking for dessert with beer in it for Kevin's Christmas present. I ended up going with something else but over the past year I've come across a dessert with beer recipe every once in a while on Pinterest. For Dad, I chose cookies with beer and two kinds of M&Ms: peanut and pretzel. Basically this is a pub/bar cookie.

For what kind of beer I asked Mom what kind Dad and Kevin liked. She told me one they both liked but I couldn't find it anywhere. Come to find out it's no longer made. So Mom suggested I use a pale ale. Fortunately, Total Wine & More (which is near me) has individual bottles. So I grabbed one from the same brand Mom had said for the original kind and went home to bake.

Peppermint Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are probably one of the simplest and easiest things someone can bake. The recipe should be one of the first things used when learning to bake. It's also very versatile: you can replace the semi-sweet chocolate chips with pretty much anything similar: another flavor of chips (I like milk chocolate chips), chopped up candy bars, baking bits, M&Ms. Or Anthony's favorite this time of year: Andes Peppermint Chips. My mom has only been able to find these bags at one store (can't remember which one but I think it was Cost Plus World Market) so when she goes to that store she buys several bags. A while back she gave me a bag. And in an effort to get it out of my pantry, picking Anthony's present this year was a no-brainer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Double Chocolate Decadence Biscotti

About a year and a half ago Anthony and his now-wife Kati went to Italy for a couple weeks. When they came back (and possibly before they left. I can't remember and I can be horrible at noticing these things sometimes) Kati seemed to have a love and appreciation for all things Italian, specifically food. She even wanted as much Italian food and influence as possible for their wedding. So for her Christmas gift this year I decided to use a recipe from a biscotti cookbook I got during a recent trip to Portland. After looking at all the chocolate recipes and even trying to find a peanut butter one (since last year's white chocolate peanut butter fudge was successful. Maybe an internet search next year), I finally decided on Double Chocolate Decadence.


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