Posts Tagged by holiday cookies

Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies

Chai Snickerdoodles

I still remember the first time I tried Chai tea. My daughter, a tea fanatic, had a chai tea latte from our local coffee shop and insisted that I taste it. She promised that is was nothing like regular hot tea and that I’d love it. I was skeptical, but as soon as I smelled that intoxicating blend of spices, I was sold. It basically tasted like a hug. That’s all I can say about it. A hug in a cup. A giant, warm hug. 

Imagine my excitement when I learned I could combine Christmas with this steamy mug of hugs!  The traditional holiday snickerdoodle is now best friends with chai spices to make you and your family happy and warm all day long.

Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies

Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies

Ingredients

2 C sugar

3 tsp. chai tea mix

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground allspice

1 C butter, room temp

2 eggs, room temp

1½ tsp vanilla

2¾ C flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

⅛ tsp salt

1 bag of white chocolate chips or wafers – for dipping

Icing (optional)

2 egg whites

1 C powder sugar

½ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla

Green and red gel food coloring

Instructions

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the sugar, chai tea mix, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice – set aside 1/2 cup of this mixture for later.

Cream the butter and the rest of the sugar mixture until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.

Sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients gradually to creamed mixture and blend well.

Create tablespoon-sized balls and roll each one in the reserved sugar mixture to coat. Place at least 2 inches apart on a greased or lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Do not overbake or allow them to get too much color.  Allow them to cool a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using a double boiler or microwave according to package instructions, melt the white chocolate. Dip half of each cookie into the melted white chocolate and let them dry completely on wax paper.


Optional icing decor: Make the colored icing by stirring the sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla into the egg whites. With a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for 6 minutes. Add some additional powdered sugar if the mixture isn’t thick enough. Divide the icing equally into two bowls to create green and red.

Using a piping bags with #2 tips, create the holly decoration on each cookie and allow to dry.

You can also decorate these with sprinkles or colored sugars while the chocolate layer is still wet. They’re also just as yummy plain!


Store cookies in an airtight container. These cookies many also be made ahead and frozen (prior to dipping in chocolate and decorating) for up to 2 months.

Chai Snickerdoodles

 

8 Tips for Amazing Holiday Cookies

Holiday Cookie Success

Shortbread for Santa, Hanukkah sweets, New Year’s treats—whatever traditions you hold dear, cookies are key at holiday time. With these few simple pointers on measuring, mixing (not too much!), size, and more, you can make this the year for mastering the art of cookie baking. Read on for eight essential lessons to take you from basic ingredients to crave-worthy cookies ready for a thick swirl of frosting or a double dip in dark chocolate—great for gifting or gobbling.

1. Invest in a Digital Scale

When it comes to measuring ingredients such as flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, baking is a science that repays precision. If your recipe provides the option of measuring by weight, you’ll want to use a digital scale, which ensures amounts will be accurate no matter how level your measuring cup may appear. A decent-quality digital scale costs about $25 and can be purchased online or in a baking supply store.

2. Go Nonstick for Success

While parchment paper is handy for lining baking sheets, consider upgrading to a nonstick silicone mat (Silpat is my favorite and a widely available brand, and this Artisan is very popular and wallet-friendly!), which prevents the dough from sticking to the baking sheet and serves as a buffer from the hot pan, preventing the cookie bottoms from scorching. Best of all, silicone mats are reusable and easy to clean. A quick wipe with a warm towel removes any residue, leaving the mat ready for your next dozen.

3. Avoid Overmixing

For tender, moist cookies, stick to the minimum amount of mixing—just until the ingredients are evenly distributed and fully combined. Why? The more you mix a cookie dough that contains flour, the more active the gluten in the flour becomes. Overactive gluten translates to a tougher, chewier texture.

4. Chill First, Roll Second

Dough that’s meant to be rolled and cut with cookie cutters is easiest to work with when chilled. Otherwise, the fat (most commonly butter) in the dough will warm quickly, causing the dough to stick to your hands, tools, and work surface. For best results when rolling and cutting, keep the dough wrapped in plastic and chilled in the refrigerator, removing only small portions at a time to work with. After you’ve cut out your cookies, place them back in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking, if time allows. This way, your cut-out cookies will best maintain their intended shape rather than stretch or spread.

5. Size Matters

Consistency is critical when it comes to the size of your cookies, for one simple reason: Cookies that are the same size will bake in the same amount of time. Mixing up sizes on the same baking sheet inevitably means the smaller cookies will bake faster (read: burn) while the larger ones will be underbaked. This holds true for both cut cookies (the little stars will cook faster than the big gingerbread men) and drop cookies. For drop cookies, you can keep the size consistent by using a small ice cream scoop, melon baller, or measuring spoon (such as a tablespoon) to portion out batter, dipping the scoop in warm water after every few uses to prevent sticking.

6. Avoid Overcrowding

Cookies of all types need ample room on a baking sheet to allow for any spreading while baking. Also keep in mind that as a cookie bakes, it releases steam. And it is this steam that helps cookies retain their moisture. This is why cookies placed in the corners of baking sheets bake faster, and are crispier, than those in the center of a sheet. (The corners of baking sheets reflect heat directly onto the cookies, and because there are fewer cookies surrounding the ones in the corners, corner cookies are exposed to less steam and dry out faster than the rest.)

7. Tinker With the Temperature-to-Time Ratio

The temperature of your oven and the time your cookies spend in the oven directly affect their texture. If you prefer a crispier cookie, decrease the oven temperature and increase the baking time. If you prefer a chewier cookie, increase the oven temperature and decrease the baking time. This second approach will also result in cookies with a softer center. And always remember to rotate your baking sheets halfway through the baking time, as most ovens do not distribute heat evenly.

8. The Key to Cooler Cookies

How and where you set your baked cookies to let cool can make or break your success. After removing cookies from the oven, transfer them to a rack where air can circulate fully. Otherwise, cookies left on a hot baking sheet will continue to bake. Cookies should also be left to cool completely before being frosted or packaged in airtight containers.

Ready to get started? Following these eight simple tips can mean the difference between golden-brown cookies and overly crisp crumbles. The same simple principles apply to every variety of cookie, from classic chocolate chip to spiced gingerbread and every flavor and shape in between. So fire up that oven and ring in the holiday season with a batch of your favorite seasonal sweets!


Source: Victoria Burghi, chef instructor in the Pastry & Baking Arts program at The Institute of Culinary Education

Photo: Romulo Yanes