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Chewy White Chocolate Chip & Cranberry Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is truly an ‘All-American’ classic. It’s also pretty traditional anytime of year. I don’t know what it is, or why, but around the holidays my brain demands I change things up. And to said brain there are a few things that just *say* Christmas, one of them being a switch to white chocolate chips in my cookies.

 Chewy White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

And another thing? The add-ins change. Gone are the extra candies, even the oats got kicked to the curb. And although our favorite Christmas cookie add-in, Cranberries, are healthy, trust me when I say it’s not at all intentional.

Chewy White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies 3

For real though, I love these cookies so much, I’d make them in Summer too if it was seasonally appropriate. (They’re so good, you can go ahead and insert a boo, hiss from my boys over that sad fact) So let’s recap, soft and chewy, yet crisp too, cookies that pair decadent white chocolate chips with sweet/tart dried cranberries. These are the perfect Christmas cookie combination, and any cookie aficionados dream.

Chewy White Chocolate Chip & Cranberry Cookies

Chewy White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies 2

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugars on medium-high speed until they’re whipped and creamy. Next, add in the egg and vanilla, and beat on high speed and mix until evenly incorporated.
    2. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Working a little at a time, mix the dry ingredients into the wet batter. (The batter should be pretty thick, and that’s ok) Use a spatula to gently fold in the white chocolate chips and the dried cranberries. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap, or transfer to a Tupperware and seal, and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. Do not skip this step!
    3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 10 minutes prior to baking to allow it to come almost to room temp, if you let it chill overnight. It may take up to 30 minutes. While the dough softens, prep two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, and set aside.
    4. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll, between your hands, into a ball. If the dough is crumbly, no worries, it will smooth right out when you roll it. Put the dough balls onto a non-stick baking sheet, about 1-1/2 – 2 inches apart from each other, to allow for spreading. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until just barely golden brown around the edges. They will look extremely soft when you remove them from the oven. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes or so, until you transfer them to cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
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Boston Cream Pie Cookie Cups

Boston Cream Pie, or actually more of a cake, is the dessert that made Boston famous, or is it the other way around? Oh well, chicken or egg. What’s important is that it’s here now, and it’s still so dang good. And Boston doesn’t seem to care either, because it even became their ‘official’ adopted dessert in 1996. This rich, but devastatingly delicious, dessert typically features a layer of thick, creamy custard, sandwiched between soft, buttery layers of cake and topped with a thick chocolate ganache. And it’s one of our favorite desserts to serve at our Holday table to close-out our big meal.

Boston Cream Pie Cookie Bites 2

But we can’t always leave well-enough alone. No matter how good the tried and true is, I just can’t stop there. I just can’t stop myself. I embrace change, well I do in the kitchen at least if not anywhere else. Luckily, with this fun finger food, there were no other feet dragging either.

Boston Cream Pie Cookie Bites 3

Now let me present to you for your upcoming Holiday dinner enjoyment: all the same flavor of Boston Cream Pie, but served in miniature form and in little sugar cookie cups, no less. These make the perfect bite-sized appetizer or dessert anytime of the year, but they will definitely have star-power at any Holiday meal.

Boston Cream Pie Cookie Cups

Boston Cream Pie Cookie Bites 4

uncooked sugar cookie dough, can be the refrigerated kind or from a dry package and mixed according to the package directions
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 3.4 ounce box of instant vanilla, or French vanilla, pudding
¼ cup powdered sugar
Chocolate syrup

Directions

  1. Roll the dough into roughly 1″ balls and place all the balls into the muffin depressions in a greased mini muffin pan. Lightly press a spoon or rounded tablespoon into the top center of each dough ball to create a crater in the middle. Bake the cookie cups at 375 degrees for about 9 minutes. It’s ok if the centers seem a wee bit undercooked as long as they’re not ‘doughy’. Again, use your spoon or tablespoon to lightly push down the center again retain the ‘cup’ form. Let the cookie cups rest for 5 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to continue cooling.
    2. in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream and whip, starting on a low speed, and then as it begins to thicken increase the speed until it has been thickened almost to the consistency of whipped cream. Add the pudding and the sugar. Continue to whip until they’re all evenly incorporated and the mousse is the consistency of thick whipped cream.
    3. Add the mousse to a piping bag, or to a ziplock bag with one corner snipped off, and pipe into petite little piles in the cooled cookie cups. Top the filled cups with liberal drizzles of chocolate syrup.
    4. Serve them immediately or store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

recipe adapted from House of Yumm

Nestle Buncha Crunch Cookies

I love the clearance aisle. It’s my little slice of grocery store heaven. Regardless of the fact that I’m a grocery list nazi, you can still bet it’s the first place I’m gonna go and I don’t care if it’s on the list or not. If it’s on clearance, we make exceptions. The sons know. “Mom’s got a grocery cart? Aww, snap! Do NOT get between her and the clearance aisle.” I wouldn’t really run them over.

The sons like our grocery store’s clearance aisle as much as I do because there’s always some sort of candy on clearance. Since we try really hard to stick to our one day a month stock-up, everybody usually gets $1-2 to spend on an item of their choice, and they always gets a quarter soda on the way out. Well, except for the time the machine was completely out of stock, but that’s a temper tantrum of epic proportions story for another day.

Anywho, back to the clearance aisle. Clearance. Candy. What kid wouldn’t dig that? As much as they dig it, I usually find something that I plan to incorporate into some re-vamped recipe. Most recently, it was several boxes of  Nestle’s Buncha Crunch candies marked down to 25 cents a box. The wheels were turning guys! I knew they could be used to make some recipe magic.

 Nestle Buncha Crunch Cookies

By now ya’ll know how much we like to shake things up. Well today we’ve brought our latest change-up to share. A new take on the traditional chocolate chip cookies. And they’re pretty friggin’ delicious if I do say so myself.

We love cookies with mix-ins and have used m & m’s, Reese’s Pieces, and even Peanut Butter cups in the past, but using Buncha Crunch pieces was just genius.  The great thing about using these candy pieces instead of chocolate chips? The chocolate doesn’t melt down when you bake them, leaving them intact with a tasty crunch!

Nestle Buncha Crunch Cookies

Nestle Buncha Crunch Cookies 2

1 cup butter softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup Crunch Bits

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together.
2. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until everything is evenly combined.
3. Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat until well incorporated.
4. Use a sturdy spatula to gently stir in the candy pieces until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Butterfinger Brownie Cookies

When I was a kid, right after trick or treating on Halloween, my sisters and I would sit down in the middle of the living room floors, dump out all of our candy, take inventory, and then get down to completing the very important candy trading. You know… I’ll give you my Milky Way for your Twix Bar? There were a few candy bars that I always wanted to have in my stash, including… Butterfinger. I wanted them all. Crispety, crunchy, peanut buttery goodness covered in chocolate. I love ‘em which is why I decided they belonged in another favorite of mine…. cookies.

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These amazing buttery chock-full-of-Butterfinger cokies are suuuuper yum. Like, beyond yum. Freakishly yum. Yum, yum, yum. Risking life and limb, I had to hoard the last dozen or so just so I could take pictures of them so I could post the recipe. No one knows exactly what happened to those cookies after pictures were taken. Reports are mixed and slightly fuzzy.

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Did your kids manage to scare up way too many sweets this year? Instead of hauling all of that leftover Halloween candy into the office or hiding it in a drawer, turn it into this amazing treat. If they didn’t, or as would be my case, aren’t willing to part with their precious butterfingers, hit up the clearance Halloween candy aisle. And if they’re all out, no worries, they’re in stock through out the whole year. 😉

Butterfinger Brownie Cookies

 Butterfinger Brownie Cookies

recipe originally from Recipe Girl

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon All Purpose Gold Medal® Flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chopped Butterfinger candy bars (7.8 ounces)- Roughly 12 fun-size bars

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
2. Put butter and chocolate chips in a glass bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes, stir, then microwave an additional 15 to 20 seconds if needed until the mixture is melted and smooth, or melt in a double boiler.
3. Stir sugar, salt and vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until they are completely incorporated.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, then add the flour mixture to the chocolate batter. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Give it all you’ve got for a good 2 to 3 minutes of mixing. The batter should be smooth and glossy and thick. If the batter is cooled off, stir in the butterfingers.
5. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto your prepared cookie sheets- leaving about 2-inches between cookies as they’ll need space to spread out. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. They’ll spread out and puff up. You want to take them out when they’ve crackled but they’re still soft and gooey. They’ll sink and become more firm as they cool. Wait a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Sous Chef Sunday: Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

Oh, Kool-Aid, how the sons love you. How they will agonize over the packet selection at the grocery store, trying to find the perfect five or so for a $1, occasionally arguing amongst each other over whether they really want to waste one of their picks on plain, old orange. It’s always a bit of a bummer for them when they realize their packets have run out, and they’ve got to wait 2-3 more weeks for our monthly grocery trek to get anymore. Imagine their surprise when they saw me putting extra packets into the cart a few months ago. They were a bit surprised when I said we wouldn’t be drinking the grape or the cherry, but baking them instead.

These were super easy to make, and the kids enjoyed the slightly sweet taste as the cookies melted in their mouths. The older sons even learned how to separate an egg, something I didn’t do for the first time until just a few years ago. Son # 4 even helped pipe them out onto a baking sheet. He was pretty proud of himself and his ability to get his hands ‘dirty’. I’ve seen these described before as easy peasy lemon squeezy and that’s the truth!

Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

4 Snos 'R' Us: koolaid meringue cookies

recipe originally from Adventures In All Things Food

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. superfine sugar (or pulse up sugar in a food processor till fine)
1 tsp. Kool-Aid liquid

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs till they are frothy. Then add in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Then start beating in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is all dissolved and the peaks are stiff. Rub a little of the egg whites between your fingers to check for gritty sugar. The mixture should be smooth. Then beat in a teaspoon of the Kool-Aid liquid.
3. Put in a piping bag with a 1M tip and pipe onto a parchment covered baking sheet or silicone mat. Keep the cookies uniform so they will dry evenly. Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cookies in for another hour. They should be completely cool and release easily from the baking sheet.
4. Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container.

Sous Chef Sunday: Lazy Cake Cookies

If Grandma’s cookies and your favorite brownie got together, this would be their love-child. And they’re glorious.

Moist and chewy, with the perfect amount of cookie taste. The sons love them because A.) they’re awesome and B.) because they almost always get a ‘yes’ if they ask to make them. I love them because A.) they’re freakin’ awesome and B.) because they’re so easy the kids don’t make a huge mess and I can finally eat a dessert I didn’t have to make myself. Everybody’s happy. Although, that could also be the after effects of the sugar high…Nah!

Never ones to be afraid of a little ‘flair’, the sons opted for pink/yellow Easter mini chips instead of the more traditional plain, ol’ chocolate. But, seriously, who doesn’t love a good cookie? Especially one with a little pizzazz.

Lazy Cake Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Lazy Cake Cookies

Oh my. Pass the plate, please! *drool*

1 box yellow or white cake mix (you don’t have to stop there. Experiment!)
2 eggs, beaten
5 tbsp melted butter
2 cups chocolate chips or M&M’s

Directions

1. Mix together, put in a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 min! That’s it. Let them cool. Cut & serve!

When spreading the batter into your baking dish it’s OK if it doesn’t want to stretch out to fill the entire pan. Just make sure it’s as good as it will get and it will rise and fill as it bakes. To prevent the very sticky batter from sticking to your spatula and to make it easier, lightly grease the spatula before spreading.

Christmas Wreath Cookies

After years and years of the same, we were tired of leaving Santa the same old boring chocolate chip cookies every Christmas eve. Last year, by unanimous vote, we decided that these fun, fancy ‘cookies’ were the perfect thing for a change.These are so simple, they’re a perfect Christmas break activity for the kids. Even the youngest son got in on the action.

The sons were so happy last Christmas morning when the woke up and discovered that Santa had liked them so much, he ate almost the entire plate. Poor Santa. That (and all the milk) probably led to a giant belly ache. I wouldn’t know or anything. Just a guess. The big guy and I are tight and everything, but not that tight. Shake things up for Santa this Christmas Eve at your own house with these colorful Christmas ‘cookies’ or just have them as part of your celebration. However you decide to use them, whenever you decide to bake them they will be sugary sweet and perfect for the occasion.

Christmas Wreath Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Christmas Wreath Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce package of miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 teaspoons green food coloring
1 cup white chocolate chips
4 cups toasted rice or corn flake cereal
1/4 to 1/3 cup cinnamon candies (such as Red Hots®)

4 Sons 'R' Us: Christmas Wreath Cookies

Directions

1. Prepare baking sheet with wax paper. Spray wax paper with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir continuously until melted, scraping sides of pan so sugar crystals don’t form.
3. Turn heat to low. Add peppermint extract and green food coloring and mix well. Add white chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add cereal and mix well until all cereal flakes are well coated.
4. Coat hands with some of the non-stick cooking spray. Take about 1/4 cup of cereal mixture and form wreath shapes on wax paper coated baking sheet. Decorate each wreath with 3-6 cinnamon candies. I opted for 3 so they looked like Poinsettia leaves. Allow to cool for about an hour before serving. Store in an airtight container in single layers separated by wax paper or on baking sheet covered in plastic wrap for 4-5 days.

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