3rd and Final Holiday Cookie Baking Day

Ahhh…it is almost done, but for the wrapping and delivery of the goodies! Today I made 2 different types of bar cookies and I finished quicker than when I baked the other cookies that required more individual attention and detail. That is a very good thing since we have plans with friends again this evening. It has definitely been a hectic holiday season this year! I am looking forward to those quiet, cold evenings in January….

I decided to round out the out the flavors of all the other types of previously made cookies (Molasses Cookies, Lime-Glazed Coconut Snowballs, Rolled Holiday Cookies and Jam Sandwiches) with some nuts and chocolate. It is not the holiday season unless you include some dish with pecans or pecan pie, so I made traditional pecan bars (I opted for a new recipe this year that seemed a little lighter). I also decided to add some dark and white chocolate and candy canes and made Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies. These are roughly cut just like peppermint bark candy, so it adds another decorative touch to your cookie selection.

Once again, these were new cookies to my repertoire. I would definitely say to under cook both of the cookie crusts. I would also be sure to use an 8 inch pan for the pecan bars. I used a 9 inch pan and I know I would like the taller cookie bar, so that would be my suggestion. I also used slightly less brown sugar in the pecan bars (1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup). They are usually too sweet and these taste great with less sugar.

Both recipes are below.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
Bon Appetit, December 2009
Recipe by Dede Wilson
Makes about 36

Ingredients
* Nonstick vegetable oil spray
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 large egg yolk
* 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet)
* 1/2 cup finely chopped red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies or candy canes (about 3 ounces)
* 2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

Preparation
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sides of pan. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low-speed just to blend.
*Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.
*Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over.
*Stir white chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Using fork, drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
*Using paper overhang as aid, lift cookie from pan and transfer to work surface. Using large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in refrigerator in airtight containers between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper.

Pecan Bars

Makes 24. Cooks Illustrated. Published December 12, 2006.

Toast all of the pecans for the recipe (2 ¼ cups) on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until fragrant (about 8 minutes), stirring once. Assemble the pecan filling while the crust bakes. Once the crust is lightly browned, spread the filling on top and continue baking. Because of their high sugar content, pecan bars store well and taste great up to 5 days after baking. While we liked bourbon the best, dark rum is quite good. For a very boozy tasting bar cookie, add another tablespoon of liquor.

Ingredients

Crust
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
1/4 cup toasted pecans , chopped coarse
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Pecan Filling
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces) I used 1/3 cup
1/3 cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
1 tablespoon bourbon or dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg , lightly beaten
2 cups toasted pecans , chopped coarse

Instructions
1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan (overhang will help in removal of baked bars). Fit second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt, and baking powder in food processor. Process mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal, about five 1-second pulses. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles sand, about eight 1-second pulses. Pat mixture evenly into prepared pan and bake until crust is light brown and springs back when touched, about 20 minutes.
3. For the pecan filling: While crust bakes, whisk together brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until just combined. Add egg and whisk until incorporated.
4. Pour filling on top of hot crust and sprinkle pecans evenly over top. Bake until top is brown and cracks start to form across surface, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Remove bars from pan using foil or parchment handles and transfer to cutting board. Cut into bars that measure 1 1/2 inches by 2 1/4 inches.

I am now hoping for more days to cook now that the sweets are baked and ready to be given to others as well as a few saved for the baker and the photographer. Speaking of the photographer…my husband has been enlisted to take the really good pictures (he did offer). The kitchen pictures taken while cooking will not be as nifty, but hopefully, you will enjoy them all.

Happy baking at your home this holiday!

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Filed under Baking, Chocolate, Christmas, Cookies, Peppermint, Recipes

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