I’m normally not a fan of gingerbread cookies, as I usually stick to sugar cookies slathered in thick buttercream. However, this recipe has completely converted me to a gingerbread lover. The original title of this recipe was actually “World’s Best Gingerbread Cookies”, and indeed, they are. They are soft, yet chewy, and are full of spicy flavor. No crunchy, hard gingerbread cookies here. I plan to make this my “go-to” gingerbread recipe for years to come!
I decorated half of my gingerbread men with ugly sweaters for our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, and I intended to decorate the rest of my men as cute little reindeer. My plan was foiled today when I reached for the container of gingerbread men to find only a few crumbs remaining. Apparently…my husband liked the gingerbread men as well. (He also used the buttercream that I was saving as a “dip” for the cookies…*sigh*). Since I need to move on with other baking endeavors for this weekend, the gingerbread reindeer will have to wait until next year. Unless, I teach my husband how to use the KitchenAid mixer…
Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
Yields: 2-3 dozen
3 cups flour
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
¾ cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda until well combined. Add the butter pieces and mix until the mixture resembles a very fine meal. Add molasses and milk, and mix until the dough is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass.
Divide dough in half and place each piece between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll until about ¼-inch-thick. Place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove dough from the refridgerator and cut into gingerbread or desired shapes. Place on parchment-lined sheet pans and bake for 9 to 12 minutes. Cool and decorate.
*Note – this can also be made in a food processor, if you happen to be so lucky to own one.
Source: So Tasty So Yummy
Cheesecake is probably my most favorite dessert to make, and of course to eat. The only “problem” with cheesecake is that it is so rich and filling, even a small slice leaves me full. The best solution? Make cheesecake bites! By cutting the cheesecake into individual portions, it allows me to sample one or two bites, and still leave room to try other desserts. 🙂
I love anything with Oreos in it, so Oreo cheesecake was a natural choice for me. If you wanted to make it more festive for Christmas, you could use the Christmas Oreos, use red and green colored chocolate to drizzle on top, or douse them with sprinkles. Just have fun with it!
Oreo Cheesecake Bites
Yields: About 36 bites
36 Oreo Cookies, divided
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
4 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides. Finely crush 24 Oreo cookies. Melt 1/4 cup butter; mix with crumbs. Press onto bottom of prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each just until blended. Chop remaining cookies. Gently stir into batter; pour over crust.
Bake the cheesecake for about 35-40 minutes or until the sides are set and the center is almost set. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.
When the cheesecake is completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When chilled, remove the cheesecake using the foil overhang and cut the cheesecake into bite-sized pieces. Place the cheesecake bites on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking tray. Melt the semisweet chocolate (I use the microwave on 50% power, stirring frequently). Use a fork to drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake bites.
Chill the bars until ready to serve. Alternately, the drizzled bites can be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month. Let them defrost in the refrigerator and serve chilled.
Popcorn seems to be the “it” thing to make this year, as I’ve been seeing flavored popcorn recipes pop up all over the internet lately. I love the combination of sweet and salty, and popcorn offers something different from the usual chocolate covered pretzels. This peppermint popcorn is ridiculously easy to make, and it is so delicious! Plus, it looks very festive, and it’s great to give as a gift instead of cookies or candy.
Peppermint Popcorn Crunch
Yields: About 16 cups
2 bags microwave popcorn
1 bag candy cane candy melts
1 large bag M&M’s
10 small candy canes, crushed
Pop the popcorn as directed on the bag. Pour onto a large, rimmed cookie sheet, removing as many kernels as possible.
In a glass bowl, melt the candy melts on 50% power for 1 minute, then for 30 second intervals, stirring between each time until melted. Pour over the popcorn and toss.
Sprinkle the M&M’s and crushed candy canes over the popcorn. Toss to mix completely. Spread the mixture out on 2 cookie sheets until the candy melts have set.
Store in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted from Bake at 350
Some people say that ugly Christmas sweater parties are overdone and outdated, but in my opinion, nothing gets you more into the Christmas spirit than a hideous, rhinestone bedazzled snowman sweater! Despite their popularity, most of our party guests had never attended an ugly sweater party, so everyone really put a lot of thought and effort into their outfits.
I kept things simple with the menu and went with appetizers, dips, and desserts, plus lots of good beer and wine. Most everything could be made ahead of time, so I prepped the food the night before, and then warmed it all up right before the party.
Our menu was as follows…
Spinach Artichocke Dip (served with warm pita triangles)
Buffalo Chicken Dip (served with tortilla chips)
Oreo Cheesecake Bites
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
I’ll be sharing most of these recipes over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!