This is probably the best cookie recipe I have ever made.  The recipe comes from AllRecipes.com (submitted by Barbara Hart) and is definitely in my Christmas baking repertoire.
The cookie is just undercooked and gooey, with the surprise cherry centre.  Top it with a rich frosting made of more chocolate and you have a melt-in-your-mouth holiday treat! 
 
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 10-oz jar maraschino cherries
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I have also used milk chocolate chips)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
 
 
DIRECTIONS
~ Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, baking powder, and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
~ Drain cherries, reserving 1 1/2 tsp of the juice. Pat cherries dry. Shape 1 Tbsp of dough around each cherry (do this rather quickly as the dough tends to dry out). 
~ Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  (Word of Advice: these cookies do expand slightly as they cook but they don’t reshape. When done, they will look exactly as they do now so shape them
as you want to).
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set (don’t overbake). Cool on wire racks.
~ Frosting: In a saucepan, heat chocolate chips and milk until chips are melted (I have also used the microwave, cooking at 15 second intervals until smooth); stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved cherry juice and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Frost cookies.  (Some recipes skimp on the frosting but this recipe allows a good amount of frosting on each cookie). 
Delicious! 

 

This is a Kraft recipe that I have made the last two years and fell in love with. It is already a part of my own Christmas tradition. It’s a cross between a big cookie and shortbread with peanuts and white chocolate mixed into the batter. The chocolate drizzled over the top makes it beautiful and festive and even more yummy!
 
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pkg (6 squares) white chocolate, divided
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 square semi-sweet chocolate

 
DIRECTIONS
~Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil or parchment paper, with ends extending over sides of pan. Spray foil/paper with cooking spray; set aside.
~ Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs, flour and baking powder. Chop 5 squares of the white chocolate; stir into batter with peanuts. Spread into prepared pan.
~ Bake 20 to 25 mins or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan. (Be careful not to overcook… two years in a row I have cooked it just a bit too much and it makes the edges crispy).
~ Melt remaining square of white chocolate and drizzle over baked rectangle. Melt semi-sweet chocolate and drizzle over baked rectangle. Lift from pan, using foil handles. Cut into triangles.
~ Stays moist and chewy for up to two weeks in a tightly sealed container or for up to a month tightly wrapped in the freezer.

From one of Martha’s Holiday magazines, for me this is a nice twist on the traditional hazelnut thumbprints that my mom always made.  The vanilla-infused ganache adds a sophisticated taste to the chewy cookie. 

This is a great addition to my holiday baking list. 

 

INGREDIENTS

 For the cookie:

2 c. flour

1 c. + 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

2 tsp. coarse salt

1 c. butter, softened

1 1/3 c. sugar

2 large egg yolks

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 tsp. vanilla

~

For the Chocolate and Vanilla-Bean Ganache:

1/3 c. honey

1/3 c. heavy cream

1/2 vanilla bean, split & scraped, pod reserved

4 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces and softened

 

DIRECTIONS

Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed to medium and add yolks, cream, and vanilla.  Scrape sides of bowl, then beat in flour mixture until just combined. 

Roll balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each and roll in sugar.  Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Use the handle of a wooden spoon to create indents in the center each cookie. 

Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookies are just set.  If the indentations lose definition, press centers again.  Let cool slightly on baking shhets, then transfer to a wire rack.  Let cool. 

Spoon warm ganache into each cookie.  Let stand until firm (about 15 mins).  Cookies only keep, covered, for up to 3 days so you might want to freeze them. 

~

Chocolate and Vanilla-Bean Ganache

Combine honey, cream, vanilla seeds, and pod in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until honey dissolves.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes. 

Place chocolate in a food processor.  Return cream mixture to a simmer, then strain through a fine sieve.  Discard solids.  Pour cream mixture over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute.  Process until smooth.  Add butter and continue to process, scraping down sides occasionally, until butter is incorporated. 

Let cool slightly and then use immediately.

Eggplant is one of those things that I buy now and then without a purpose.  Their gorgeous deep purple color just pulls me in.  I have good intentions because I know they’re good for me and I like the taste but I admit to sometimes having rotting eggplant in my fridge before I can figure out what to do with them. 

Finally, here is an eggplant recipe that I can get excited about.  This recipe couldn’t be simpler or quicker but is really tasty.  Even the baby liked this! 

INGREDIENTS

1 large eggplant

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp butter

1 15-oz can tomato sauce

1 can water

1 clove

2 bay leaves

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella but parmesan would also work well)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cut eggplant in cubes.  Cook in boiling water for about 8 minutes.  Drain. 

Place butter and flour in a skillet.  When blended, pour in the tomato sauce and water.  Stir until smooth.  Add the clove, bay leave, pepper, onion, and salt. 

Allow the sauce to thicken (mine never did but I think I my mL to oz conversion was off and I got too much liquid).  Fold in the eggplant and pour into a 9×13 casserole dish.  Top with cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

I served this with potatoes and the leftovers over rice. 

Original recipe here

I love cooking with pumpkin, especially at this time of year when it is as seasonal as the falling leaves.  Pumpkin puree is moist and sweet so works really well as a wet ingredient in bread or muffin recipes. 

In my experience, some muffin recipes can lack the moistness of donut shop muffins but this recipe makes a pumpkin muffin that stands up to anything I have ever tasted, homemade or store-bought.  It is spiced with the usual cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove companion that just screams fall. 

This recipe will not disappoint.  As the original recipe says, this could easily be baked into a 9-in cake pan (and topped with cream cheese frosting perhaps?).

 

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup packed pumpkin puree

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin pan by lining with muffin papers or greasing the cups. 

In a bowl, sift together the first seven ingredients (flour to salt). 

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each.  Blend in vanilla extract. 

Alternately add 1/3 of flour mixture and half of pumpkin puree, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix well after each addition. 

Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Evenly fill the muffin cups.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. 

 

Yield:  Makes 12 muffins

 

Original recipe here

There is a definite apple trend to my recipes lately.  I was nearing the end of the bag and had an occasion that called for muffins so went searching for, what else … an apple muffin recipe.   

This one definitely didn’t disappoint.  My experience so far with cake making tells me that oil makes for a really moist cake and that holds true here as well.  The apple and raisin combination is classic and scrumptious, of course, and the sugary topping takes the muffin one step past ‘breakfast food’ and into the land of dessert. 

I’m not sure I’m falling for the line on the original recipe suggesting that these are a better choice than a donut but they’re good so they land a spot in my recipe box. 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (Just a note here:  I only had 1/2 cup of applesauce so added 1/2 cup of plain yogurt to make up the difference.  It certainly didn’t affect the tastiness of the end product; I suspect you could use a whole cup of yogurt as well). 

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups apples (cored, peeled, diced)

1/2 cup raisins

For the topping:

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

4 tsp all purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vegetable oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the topping:  Combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Stir in oil until moistened. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients (to salt). 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, applesauce, sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture. 

Add the apples and raisins.  Stir just until combined. 

Spoon into a greased or papered-lined muffin pan.  Sprinkle with topping.  Bake at 375 degrres until tops are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to a wire rack.  Let cool completely. 

The recipe says it makes 20 servings but it is more like 24. 

Original recipe here

With two large bags of apples laying around and an 8 month old son, I knew I had to make some applesauce.  Preferably a bunch of applesauce to bottle and can to have over the winter. 

Hubby stumbled across this recipe.  The previous apple butter recipe was also from this site, as are several others that look delicious.  I have a feeling I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.  Next up:  pumpkin butter or sweet potato poutine?  Hmm…

As he points out, roasting the apples seems to bring out more of their sugars and intensifies the flavor.  And the spice mixture seems to be right on, although you could play with this a bit to your taste. 

Forget a sieve and all that… I’m done searching for my applesauce recipe. 

 

INGREDIENTS

4 apples (peeled, cored, and chopped)

1/4 cup apple cider

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

 

DIRECTIONS

Toss everything in a bowl.  (I actually mixed everything but the apples first and poured the mixture over the apples, thinking it would more evenly distribute the spices). 

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the apples are very soft.  Make sure you stir it occasionally. 

Mash the apples.  If you chop your apples small enough, you can actually do this with the spoon.

To can:  I used a pressure canner with a 5lb weight for 12 minutes.