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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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White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls

I can’t believe Christmas is only a week away. It never ceases to amaze me how fast a year goes by the older I get. And while I may have perfected my Masters in Procrastination over the years, gift buying is always an exception. I’m usually done with everything, except stocking stuffers, before the school year starts. And while I may *have* all the gifts hidden in sneaky little spots, that I can only hope I remember all of, it’s still the week before Christmas and I haven’t wrapped a single thing. Ya know what? It’s all going to work itself out, and every darn thing will get wrapped and placed perfectly under the tree, even if it’s not until 3am Christmas morning.

 White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls

One thing I do enjoy wrapping up? Surprises, in the middle of snacks for the kids. And whether I’m serving them for brunch, for snack, or even dessert, there’s nothing quite as perfect for this as the crescent roll. Just picture it: the flaky outer pastry of a perfectly cooked crescent roll, with crumbled spicy ginger snaps, a dash of Christmas colored sprinkles, and a white chocolate drizzle are a perfect outer shell, hiding the perfect complimentary flavors inside, rich cream cheese and sweet white chocolate.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls 3

Think of it as a present for your mouth, one that’s just waiting to tickle those tastebuds.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls 2

1 8 oz, 8 count, tube of crescent roll dough
4 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 equal cubes
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
8 gingersnap cookies, crushed
red, green, and/or white candy sprinkles

Directions

1. Roll out the crescent dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
2. Fill each crescent roll with 1 cube of the cream cheese, 1 tbsp of the white chocolate chips, and a pinch of the crushed gingersnaps.

3. Start at the fat end and gently roll up the triangle to form crescent shape, repeating for the remaining crescents.

4. Bake the prepared rolls at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
5. In a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt the rest of the white chocolate chips. Drizzle the chocolate over the crescent rolls and then sprinkle the rest of the crushed ginger snaps over top. Finish off with a handful of candy sprinkles. Serve warm.

recipe adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling

Like what you see? There’s more …

4 Sons 'R' Us: Nutella Crescents

Nutella Crescents

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snickerdoodle Crescents

Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sugar Crumb Crisps

Sugar Crumb Crispies

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

The holidays can be such a chaotic time with all the activities, shoot sometimes I get sensory overload from all the bright lights alone. And planning, hosting, and delivering on family parties and potluck a is often no exception, so when I came across a recipe that simply doused a block of plain old cream cheese in caramel sauce, I knew it was perfect. (And not just because I can never get enough cream cheese; you know my feelings about cheesecake and dips.). ​When in doubt keep it simple. This is going to be my new go-to party spread.

 Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

According to Buddy, the elf, ‘the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.’ And while we whole-heartedly agree, tasty treats are always a close second for spreading warmth and comfort to family and friends anytime of the year.

Serve this cream cheese spread and watch everyone cheer. We’ve topped it with Heath candy bits, but you could opt for plain toffee bits, or even nuts like pecans or walnuts for a less sweet, more rustic feel. Either way, it invites guests to dig right in.

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread 2
8 oz cream cheese
caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
crushed Heath bar candy, toffee bits, or nuts such as pecans or walnuts for topping
sliced apples, pears, pretzels, or graham crackers for serving

Directions

  1. Place the cream cheese on a serving dish. Pour as much caramel sauce as you want evenly over top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with a generous helping of your topping of choice.
    2. Serve with sliced apples, pears, pretzels and/or graham crackers.

recipe adapted from She Wears Many Hats

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry and orange is such a dynamic flavor duo, and it seems to pop up a lot during Fall. We also think it’s perfect for The Winter Holidays. And Rice Krispie treats have and will always one of the kids’ favorite things to make and to eat. So combining the two was a win for everyone. They still got to make , play in, and eat sugary, sticky crunchy melted marshmallow goodness, and we got to experiment with adding in some gourmet (that’s a stretch, isn’t it?) grownup mix-ins.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats

If you haven’t experimented with going beyond the basic Krispie treat, this recipe is a perfect starting point. The tartness of the dried cranberries is balanced out by the sweet orange and packed into every chewy bite.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats 2

3 tbsp butter
1 bag (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
1/4 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup dried cranberries, such as Craisins

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add in the marshmallows and stir. Let marshmallows melt completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Orange zest and juice. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside.

2. Pour in both the cereal and dried cranberries, carefully stirring (so none spills out) until everything’s evenly coated with the melted marshmallow. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with non stick spray, and then transfer the cereal to the dish. Use the back of a greased spatula to gently press the mixture down and out, evenly into the dish. Let the treats cool completely, then cut into squares before serving.

recipe adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes

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

Butterfinger Trifles

Another Halloween happened, and that means another year with lots of leftover candy from goodies. You could pilfer some pieces from the kids stash, OR as I like to do (because I would never take candy from my babies, oh no, never ever) stock up the day after when everything’s at least 50 % off if not more. That’s how I spent less than $10 and brought home a cart full of candy, and chocolate. And it gave me the perfect excuse (for these I would have happily grasped at any straw of an excuse though) to mix up the most amazing trifles we have ever tasted.

Butterfinger Trifles 2

A rich chocolate ganache, layered with velvety peanut butter mousse, and topped with crispy, crunchy crushed pieces of Butterfinger candy bars. This is like a little bit of Heaven in a trifle dish.

And you thought Halloween was just for kids 😉

This treat is quick and easy enough to whip up anytime, even at the last minute, and if you’ve got it more together than I do, it can be made ahead of time, stored covered in the fridge, and then topped with the Butterfinger bits before serving.

Butterfingers Trifles

Butterfinger Trifles

Milk Chocolate Ganache

1+3/4 cups milk chocolate chips
½ cup milk

Peanut Butter Mousse
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Butterfinger candy bars, chopped

Directions

Ganache
1. Add the chocolate chips and milk to a double boiler. Stir with a wire whisk until the chocolate has melted, and the two have evenly combined into a ganache (leaving no traces of milk behind) and it becomes thick and deep chocolate in color. Remove the top pot from heat and let the ganache cool about 15 minutes.

Mousse
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the whipping cream, peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Whisk/mix on high until everything’s evenly incorporated and the whipping cream has thickened into a mousse-like texture.

Assemble
3. Pour the ganache into a sturdy sandwich bag. Cut a very tiny corner for pouring. The smallest corner possible will allow for more control.
Spoon in the peanut butter mousse. Fill about ¼ inch to ½ inch.
Pour the ganache in to add a thin layer.
Repeat the steps. And then top with a generous handful of Butterfinger crumbs.
If you’re not serving immediately, cover the dishes with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to serve, waiting to top with the candy bits until just before serving.

recipe adapted from Cookie Dough & Oven Mitt

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Sweet, dark cherries stirred into a deceptively ‘skinny’ chocolate batter that’s then baked into healthy muffins that are sinfully delicious.

 Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

With these you can have your cake and eat it too, AND still feel good about it.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 3

Pair these with a glass of milk for an indulgent start to any morning. Or enjoy them with a glass of milk (or wine, just sayin’!) for a sweet treat that’s a great ending to any day whether it’s for dessert, or a not-so naughty midnight snack.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 2

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large egg whites, or one large egg
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp  baking powder
1 cup chopped dark sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, optional

Directions

  1. Prepare a cupcake/muffin tin by spraying the cups generously with non-stick cooking spray, or you can use cupcake liners (but they won’t pull away clean from the baked muffins).
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract, mixing them until the batter is evenly combined without any lumps left.
    3. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, just until everything’s evenly incorporated, but also making sure not to leave any flour pockets lurking behind. Gently fold in the cherries using a spatula.
    4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, filling them as close to the top as possible. Bake the muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for about 2 more minutes.
    5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow It to rest, cooling for about 3 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
    * These muffins also freeze well, making a great grab and go breakfast or snack option. Just put them in the refrigerator the night before to thaw, and pop them in the microwave in the morning to reheat.
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