Christmas Cookie Baking I

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Cherry-Lemon Candy Canes, Oatmeal Raisins, & Gingerbread Disks

This weekend I started baking Christmas cookies.  I was lazier than intended (I haven’t had a lot of time to just be mellow with the family lately), and took an unplanned family shopping trip to the mall.  But even with that, and the trip to see the Lights Before Christmas, and a couple dozen Christmas cards, I still managed to make three batches of cookies happen.  Recipes and comments after the jump, but here’s the executive summary.

  1. Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: definitely delicious; would have preferred slightly chewier
  2. Gingerbread Disks: flavor is good, but they were decidedly crunchy.  they work well when dipped in coffee or milk
  3. Cherry-Lemon Candy Canes: very delicious and great texture

1. Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This is essentially the recipe on the Quaker oatmeal canisters, with Gabriel-friendly substitutions.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 C coconut oil
  • 1/3 C soy-free Earth Balance
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 2/3 C applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C pastry flour
  • 1/2 C bread flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup raisins (okay, I always use extra raisins, more like 1 1/2 C… who doesn’t like extra raisins?)

Process

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cream together coconut oil, Earth Balance and sugars.  Beat in applesauce and vanilla.  Add flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.  Add oats and raisins and stir it all together … gently but throroughly: cookies need love like everything does.

I like to put parchment paper down on my cookie sheets, even when they don’t need to be greased… simplifies cleanup greatly.  With or without parchment paper, drop full tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets (they will expand).

Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cool for 90 seconds on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.

Comments

These little guys are yummy.  When Gabriel saw they were ready, he asked, “Can I have two?”  I gave him his two, and before he even finished the first, he changed it to “Can I have twelve?”  The only problem is that I wish they were chewier.  Because I’m experimenting, I checked them compulsively while they were nearing being done, and they went from not looking done at all to definitely being done.  I wish they were chewier (although 5-8 seconds in the microwave fixes that).  Perhaps a solution would be to lower the oven temperature a bit; that certainly worked for the adapted white bread.

2. Gingerbread Disks

Ingredients

  • 1 cup soy-free Earth Balance
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • egg substitute (I used 1 Tbsp flax, beaten with 3 Tbsp hot water until gelatinous, but see note)
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • extra white sugar

Process

Cream together Earth Balance and sugars.  Beat in egg substitute, molasses, and apple cider vinegar.  Add all the dry ingredients (except the extra supply of sugar) incrementally and stir until thoroughly mixed into a dark, slightly sticky dough.

Cover with plastic and chill two hours or overnight.  (If you chill overnight, you’ll have to let the dough sit out for a bit the next day or it will be unworkably cold.)

Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare cookie sheets with cooking spray or parchment paper.  Roll the dough into small (2/3 inch or so) balls, roll in white sugar, and flatten.

Bake 7-8 minutes.  Yields 4 dozen.

Comments

Turned out a little dark, both in the sense of heavy gingerbread flavor (which I actually like but that’s subjective) and in the sense of not chewy enough.  I think this would have been a good situation for using applesauce as an egg substitute to increase the moisture.  I tried to roll this out and break out the cookie cutters, but it wasn’t rolling-pin-friendly.  But even as they are, they make lovely things to dunk in coffee or milk (or milk substitute).

 3. Cherry-Lemon Candy Canes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup soy-free Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • egg substitute (I used 1 Tbsp flax, beaten with 3 Tbsp hot water until gelatinous, but you could use Ener-G if you have it, or 1 large egg if you have no reason to avoid them)
  • 2 1/2 cups pastry flour (but see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cherry extract
  • red food coloring

Process

Cream together sugars, coconut oil, and Earth Balance.  Beat in egg substitute.  Stir in the salt and flour until the dough is thoroughly blended.

Divide the dough in half and place in two medium bowls.  Add lemon extract to one half, add food coloring and cherry extract to the other.  Mix thoroughly.  Cover with plastic and chill two hours or overnight.  (If you chill overnight, you’ll have to let the dough sit out for a bit the next day or it will be unworkably cold.)

Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare cookie sheets with cooking spray or parchment paper.  Roll the dough into little snakes; you have some flexibility with thickness and length, but if you make them too skinny it’s hard to keep them even.  Anywhere from 2-4 inches is a good length.  Place a white snake snugly against a red snake, twist them together gently, and bend the end into the candy cane shape.  It’s best to make one whole candy cane at a time before starting the next; if you roll out, say, all the white snakes first, then the first snakes you make will be too dried out by the time you want to use them.

Bake 7-9 minutes.  Yield depends on snake size, of course; I got twenty-seven largeish cookies.

Comments

Fantastical.  They don’t look as pretty as they have in the past, when I’ve used eggs, but they sure were delicious.  In this case it could probably have been remedied by substituting bread flour for some (a cup?) of the pastry flour (but you’re probably using all-purpose flour anyway, so that more than handles that), or by having more experience than I currently have with very soft dough.  In any case, strongly recommend this recipe to anyone looking for something new to try.  The blend of fruit flavors is comforting and somewhat unexpected, and really gives the kitchen a nice fragrance.

Definitely Not Done.

This evening I should bake bread, so probably no cookies. But I want to take another shot at gingerbread cookies (next time, a recipe more suitable for rolling and cutting, so we can have ninjabread men), and sugar cookies are a must (we have leftover Halloween-theme sprinkles, so I’m thinking Nightmare Before Christmas cookies).  More from me soon.

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