Friday, December 10, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—Soft Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies, Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies and Chocolate Spritz Cookies

Whew!  We’re coming down the home stretch, Friends.  Christmas is just around the corner.  I’m SO not ready.  But I do manage to keep baking away.  I’ve got three cookies to share with you for week 11 of Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies. 

First up—Soft Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies.  I made these cookies once last year after my pal, Amanda from Amanda's Cookin' blogged about them.  They were a big hit when I made them for a Christmas party.


Amanda had mentioned wanted to try the cookies with a little more Nutella than she’d used, so I went for it and made them with half a cup of Nutella instead of the one-quarter cup she’d used.  I can’t find my notes from last year, but I know I also added some chopped hazelnuts then.  These cookies really are soft and chewy and I plan to try them with just peanut butter as Amanda mentioned this was the recipe she has used and loved for peanut butter cookies for years.


I made the cookies again last week and they were just as good, though I didn’t add the chopped hazelnuts this time.  Check out the link for the cookies on Amanda's Cookin' for the recipe.  My only change was like I mentioned I added 1/2 cup Nutella and only 1/4 cup peanut butter.  The first two photos were from the cookies I made last year.  Here’s the latest.


Next I wanted to share with you some Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti that I’ve wanted to make for a while now and finally did yesterday.  I actually always thought biscotti was for dunking in coffee and since I don’t drink coffee, I had never even tried it until we made Dorie’s Lenox Almond Biscotti for TWD two years ago and loved it.  Then I had this Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti from one of Chef Paige's classes also about two years ago and it was delicious.  I consider myself one who prefers softer, chewy cookies, but there’s just something about biscotti that I really like.  I’ve tried a number of other recipes since then and they have been okay, but this one is my favorite so far.  Paige credited this recipe to her days working as a pastry chef at The Pastry Goddess in Kansas City. 


Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, from The Pastry Goddess, Kansas City

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (270 grams)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 ounces (3/4 cup) toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped

3 ounces (1 cup) dried cranberries

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (175 grams)

2 large eggs

zest of 1 orange (I used the zest of 2 clementines)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nuts and cranberries; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Beat in the zest and the vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

Divide the dough into two pieces.  On a lightly floured work surface, form each piece into a 1- to 1 1/2 inch log—each log will be about the same length as the cookie sheet.  Set the logs on the parchment lined cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly.

Bake in a 325 degree oven until set and golden brown—about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Slice on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.  Lay the slices on their sides and return the sheets to the oven for another 5 minutes.  Turn the cookies over and bake for another 5 minutes.  Cool completely before wrapping air tight.  Makes about 50 cookies (I only got 30 as I probably sliced them more into 3/4-inch slices.


I must give these away so I don’t eat them all.  Kevin doesn’t like crunchy cookies and the boys think they are strange.  Whatever, I love them.


And we’re not quite done yet.  A couple weeks ago I was shopping and saw a cookie press.  I’ve always wanted one and decided to grab it so I could make spritz cookies.  I could fill and shoot that spritz gun for a long time.  It’s so fun. 


I made this Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies recipe from the Wilton website.  The cookies call for lemon zest, but I left that out and added 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.  I colored some of the dough green, some red and left some of it white.


I also made the Chocolate Spritz Cookies from Wilton.  The only change I made to the recipe was I used salted butter and omitted the salt in the recipe.  I had fun just shootin’ away with the cookie gun.

DSCF2676The chocolate cookies are good, but they spread a little more than the others.  I like when cookies you give away, especially on plates/trays with variety have a lot of color, so into the freezer these went and they will be used to jazz up some Christmas cookies plates.

I had two little helpers decorating the Christmas tree the other day and they sure did a fine job.  Check this out.

DSCF2659Who do you think did the most?  Some would say I should just leave it that way, but I just couldn’t do it, at least I’ve got photos.

DSCF2712  DSCF2709

Ah, now I can sleep at night. ;)  Check out all the other cookies this week for Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies by clicking on all the links below.

Also a quick reminder to enter the giveaway I’m having right now for a $75 CSN Stores gift code.  Leave a comment on this post to enter.  You have until tonight, (Friday), December 10 at 10 p.m. MST to enter.


Lisa said...

Wow, looks like you're ready for the holiday season, both with your tree and with all those delicious cookies. Those spritz cookies look so pretty, like the ones you see in Christmas magazines. As for the biscotti, I will say that biscotti are so not strange. They are one of my personal favorites. I also make cranberry pistachio biscotti during the holidays and love it.

CaSaundraLeigh said...

Wow--you've been a busy bee with baking! Your biscotti looks so great. I always have trouble with mine not crumbling!!


I make the green trees every year for the same reason that you do! Thanks for the triple treat today!

Erin said...

Oh yum! They all look good. I do love spritz cookies!

Steph said...

My kinda cookie making!! The more cookies the better! :) I love your tree!

Unknown said...

Ahh Nutella! The bane of my existence. Those cookies look awesome! How did you get the awesome red shading on those flower spritz cookies? They're gorgeous :)

CDC said...

You are a busy baker! Love the idea of the cran/pistachio combo!

Sue said...

You've been quite the busy baker! I'm still working on it,but have a lot in the freezer from our 12 weeks! All of your cookies look great, and so does your tree! Love the ornaments all along the bottom of the tree (before you rearranged it)! Cute! :)

Megan said...

My my, you are a busy little baker. I am so impressed! I feel so inadequate. I still have to bake my cookies and you did 3! 3 delicious looking cookies. I'm going to a cookie swap next week and I'm thinking of taking spritz cookies. If I do, I'm trying the cream cheese ones. Flavored almond!

Katy said...

I'm impressed -- that's a lot of cookies!! :) I'm definitely going to have to try the biscotti - yum! I haven't used my cookie press in years...I don't even know where it is. I may have to go on a hunt for it now. :)

Leslie said... had me at Nutella!!!!

Trisha said...

What a lovely assortment of cookies. All of them look yummy. I can't wait to try them!

Tia said...

wow it must feel so christmassy at your house! you've got it all - the tree, the treats, good on ya!

Unknown said...

What a great selection! In Australia most of our biscuits (cookies) are crunchy - if they are soft and chewy we think we have done something wrong. So I love your biscotti especially the festive colours!

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Wow! They all look yummy! I think my favorite is the Nutella cookies. Hard to decide though!

I'm hosting a Christmas Recipe party on Thursday (with prizes). Hope you can stop by!

Anonymous said...

My grandma used to make green tree cookies that looked just like yours. I'll have to get a cookie press someday!

Sean Grey Hanson said...

So cute. I like the idea of those cookies. Dressed for the holidays.