Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Food

I’m an avid fan of Food Network‘s Holiday Baking Competition and, as a result, have watched many-a-baker create Mexican hot chocolate inspired goodies. While I’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying Mexican hot chocolate, I’m a sure-fire (spicy reference intended) fan of chocolate and pepper combined and have been eager to try out this flavor profile during the holidays.

This weekend I made my first batch of Mexican hot chocolate cookies and it was truly love at first bite!

SO gooey, with a satisfying zip of spice from the cayenne pepper and chili powder. The recipe is also really easy which is another plus, especially this time of year!

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • 4 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use bitter chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together in the microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) in 25-second increments, whisking between each interval. Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature.
  3.  Beat the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and eggs on low speed until well combined. Pour in the cooled chocolate and continue to mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate batter and mix on low speed until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  6. Scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie (they expand!).
  7. Bake the cookies for approximately 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. The cookies should be puffy and still fairly soft when removed from the oven.
  8. Immediately slide the cookies, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy this recipe with friends, co-workers and loved ones this holiday season.

P.S. 13 days until Christmas!

Original recipe retrieved from http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/spicy-mexican-hot-chocolate-cookies-1962907#reviewsTop
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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Food

With every season there are a handful of recipes that are on my absolute must-make list. For fall, we’re talking butternut squash, homemade applesauce, cheesy bowtie bratwurst casserole and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

It’s no secret that pumpkin spice is a an all-time favorite for most (#PSL season started two months ago), and this recipe combines the rich, rustic spices of fall with milk chocolate for a winning combination.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also love this recipe for the cookies’ consistency (think dessert AND breakfast) and love how many batches the dough renders.

And while this recipe is super simple, it’s also quite elegant – great for both cookie connoisseurs and beginning bakers alike!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
  6. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds.
  7. Stir in the chips.
  8. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges.
  9. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks or paper bags.
  10. Share with friends and family for a hyggelig time!

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*Original recipe retrieved from FoodNetwork.com

Christmas Checklist: Finding Your Holiday Spirit

Festivity, Inspiration

It’s that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year as a matter of fact, and everyone is abuzz with excitement and anticipation as Christmas day looms closer.

Though our culture tends to associate this season with gift-giving, most of us know that there is so much more to this holiday and that it is the traditions that make it special. While the Christmas season technically kicked off two weeks ago, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the activities and traditions that make this the most wonderful time of the year.

But perhaps you’re still in need of a little holiday spirit? Not a problem. Check out my Christmas to-do list for inspiration:

  1. Decorate the house and transform your home into a holiday wonderland.

2. Trim the tree, because it wouldn’t be Christmas without a grand and shining tree sparkling through your window.

🌲❄️☃️

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

3. Make a festive wreath to hang on your front door.

4. Bake an abundance of Christmas cookies (because calories don’t count on the holidays).

cookies

5. Watch a Christmas classic, such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” 

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6. Check out a Christmas show or performance, such as the “Nutcracker Ballet.”

the mouse king

7. Attend a Christmas-craft class or do one on your own!

8. Read a winter or holiday-themed book.

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9. Sit back and enjoy the snow.

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Here's to hoping the #snow stays put for the next two weeks. #whitechristmas #samadams #sundayfunday ❄️🍺

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10. Spend time with the ones you love most.

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It’s the little things in life that we remember, and the little things that count most. Be sure to make this holiday season count!

P.S. Only 18 days until Christmas!

christmaspuppy

More Christmas Cookies!

Food

This past week I posted about sugar cookies and my experience making them for the first time. Today I’m going to supply you with a few other recipes, all of which are Christmas classics.

  1. Peanut Butter Blossoms. Most of us are familiar with these cookies and have made them a Christmas tradition over the years. In fact, growing up, I only ever received these cookies during the holiday season. I have since continued this tradition, only making them for Christmas. While I use the classic Kiss in the center, other people use peanut m&ms or mini peanut butter cups.FullSizeRender-4
  2. Gingersnaps. Although I call them gingersnaps, these cookies are more of a “molasses cookie.” They are extremely soft and stay fresh longer than most of their cookie brethren. (This is probably due to the massive amounts of butter in them). I have made these cookies for several different school events, both in undergrad and grad school, and they have always been a hit. You may think gingersnaps are unexciting…You would be wrong.
  3. Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. I found this recipe on another blog and I am so glad that I did. These may just be my new favorite cookies of all time. Rich and decadent with a soft texture, this recipe is to die for. If you only make one cookie recipe this holiday season, it should be this one.

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Whether you are keeping them all to yourself or giving them away, cookies are a classic Christmas tradition. After all, you don’t want Santa to find an empty plate under your tree.

Only 4 days until Christmas, which means happy baking everybody!

cookies

I Finally Made Sugar Cookies

Food, Holiday

The semester is over!…Or at least it will be for me after Wednesday night. Only one more presentation and I can finally relax and enjoy Christmas break.

While I am clearly looking forward to this, I am also looking forward to the presentations because I will be bringing cookies to class. Because, ya know, ’tis the season.

While I had considered making tried-and-true recipes, I also thought it would be more fun to try something new. A friend recommended sugar cookies and, fairly confident in my baking abilities, I decided to go for it.

Although some people may think it odd I have never made sugar cookies before, it is honestly because I don’t much care for them. I am, however, in the minority and I know plenty of people adore them. My friend Rebecca does at least because she is the one who asked for them!

As it turns out, homemade sugar cookies are extremely simple. These cookies that I made turned out to be both crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. They were also made of ingredients I already had in the house (always a plus). If you are interested, this is the recipe that I used.

The only thing that I did differently from the recipe was that I doubled the amount of vanilla that it called for. (Truly, vanilla extract is one of the most important ingredients in most cookie recipes).

I baked a dozen cookies today as a test batch and will only have to make two dozen for my relatively small class. This  means I will have plenty of dough leftover for Christmas!

Only having to wait a few days (less than a week) to bake it, I am just keeping it in the refrigerator. Cookie dough typically stays fresh in the fridge up to a week. However, if it is going to be longer than a week than I would recommend freezing it to hold the freshness. Freezer bags are a cheap and convenient way of freezing dough.

As it turns out, I don’t hate sugar cookies! In fact, I would highly recommend this recipe to both sugar cookie lovers and skeptics alike. So don’t get stuck in a rut this baking season, try something new. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Pumpkins. Everyone loves pumpkins.

Food

As heavily suggested by the title, this post is about pumpkins. More specifically, pumpkin-flavored baked goods! As we all know, eating pumpkin-flavored everything in the fall is extremely trendy, HOWEVER, my favorite pumpkin eats are the ones that I make myself.Perhaps you have already made these items yourself, but if not, here are some of the things that I like to bake in the fall along with the recipes I have used.

The first has quickly become one of my all-time favorites: Chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. Why do I like them so much? Several reasons. First and foremost, they are delicious. Second, the pumpkin gives the cookie a soft texture and, unlike many other cookies, they stay fresh for up to a week. pumpkin cookie batter

Third, due to the large amount of pumpkin used in the recipe they are actually more economically sensible to make than average chocolate chip cookies. In other words, you get more cookies for what you pay for.

I used this recipe minus the cloves. I have made these cookies many times and can vouch that they are delicious even if you omit this ingredient. They are, however, best when milk chocolate chips are used, not your typical semi-sweet.

pumpkin cookies

The second recipe I am focusing on today is that of a pumpkin roll. I had neither tasted nor made a pumpkin roll until very recently, but was pleased with how simple it was to complete. Aside from being delicious, I also like  the aesthetic of this dessert. pumpkin roll

No matter how you spin it, people are impressed when they see a cake (something that is typically brittle and breakable) rolled up in a swiss-roll fashion. So if you are looking for a seasonal dessert to bring to a party, I would recommend this one!

(Very impressive indeed!)

So this weekend if you are feeling creative (or perhaps inspired by “Halloween Wars” on Food Network) perhaps try your hand at one of these recipes. I know that your friends, family and whoever you live with will be happy you did!

(Both recipes courtesy of Food Network)