November 14, 2010

Guest Post: Easy, Cheap Christmas Presents

Today’s post is a guest post by Lisa E. at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Christmas will soon be upon us and, if you're like me, you're already thinking about all the people you want to give gifts to. The list is probably a little long - friends, teachers, neighbors, the mailman, the paperboy, etc., etc. But, let's face it, sometimes (okay, a lot of the time for me) it just isn't possible to buy gifts for every person who has touched your life.

At the same time, you don't want to forget them, especially during this time of year. My solution? Bake up some cookies, wrap them up pretty, and then give like there's no tomorrow to as many people as you choose. I've even got a great recipe that you can use and it won't cost too much to make them because you only need four ingredients, that's right, I said four. Did I mention that they're chocolate too? Plus, you can add whatever you want to them to make endless types of cookies. It's a great way to use up all those little odds and ends in your pantry that you don't want to toss, but that aren't enough for an entire cookie recipe. So, without further ado, I present to you, Sparkling Cocoa Drops.

 

The recipe comes from the book Desserts4Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge. The dough comes together as easy as 1-2-3 and the cookies themselves are amazing. They are as fudgy and rich as brownies even though they're made with cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. Here's some of the variations I came up with (they can be seen in the picture below from left to right):

  1. Peanut butter and chocolate - "ice" the cookie with some microwaved peanut butter
  2. Black Forest cookies - add dried cherries and chocolate chips
  3. Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies - roll the ball of cookie dough in cinnamon-sugar
  4. Sweet and salty - sprinkle the cookie with a little sea salt before baking
  5. Chocolate pumpkin thumbprints - press a pumpkin spice Hershey's kiss into the baked cookie while it's still warm
  6. Surprise cookies - wrap the cookie dough around Butterfinger Snackerz

Use your imagination to create whatever cookie you choose. You could add different types of chips, nuts, Oreo cookies, or chopped pretzels to the dough. Or, throw in a little flavoring like orange or mint. You could also make thumbprint cookies using raspberry jam or drizzle your finished cookies with caramel. The possibilities are endless. So, when you feel that spirit of giving stirring in you, remember this:

4 simple ingredients = endless delicious cookies = 1 incredible Christmas gift

Sparkling Cocoa Drops (adapted from My Kitchen Addiction and Desserts 4 Today) 1 c. granulated sugar, divided 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 1 c. all-purpose flour mix-ins or flavorings of your choice Preheat the oven to 350F.
 
Line two cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick liners.
 
Place 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
 
Beat together the sugar, softened butter, and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer on slow speed. Once the mixture is combined and fluffy, add the flour and continue to mix until just blended, for about 1 minute.
 
Using your hands, roll the dough into 1-inch balls (approximately 1 Tbsp. of dough). Once the balls of dough are shaped, roll them in the reserved sugar (if desired) and then place them on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. (I'd recommend that you not flatten these cookies as they tend to spread a lot in the oven if you do - like mine did).
 
Bake the cookies until the tops look dry, for approximately 11-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to two days.

Lisa is an Asian girl, born and raised in Hawaii.  She shares that some of her fondest childhood memories are of her mother baking in the kitchen and always having delicious treats waiting for them when her sisters and she got home from school.  She believes she inherited her love of cooking and baking from her mother and now, whenever she goes home for vacations, she’s the one who has goodies waiting when her mom comes home from work.  Lisa created her blog, Sweet as Sugar Cookies, because she wanted to share some of her favorite family recipes as well as her love of the kitchen with others.  Lisa loves blogging because it gives her the opportunity to get to know other bloggers and "virtually" cook/bake along with them no matter where in the world they are.