December: the month of cookies

Where it lacks in warmth and sunshine, it makes up in sweetness. Sweetness of the plethora of sugar and butter and chocolate in the kitchen, soon whisked and stirred and baked into treats of all flavors, from caramel to cinnamon, butterscotch to coconut, lemon and raspberry, maple, almond, and peppermint—let’s just say we have it all covered in this kitchen.

Am I cookied out?

Never!

What a silly question.

December is cookie month, and it only gets richer each year. This year I added to mom’s classic collection with  a couple of my less-guilty recipes: raspberry-chocolate thumbprints and sugar plums, along with a few indulgent ones: dark chocolate cherry pistachio bark and cinnamon roll cookies.

Mom’s classics [and definitely not guilt-free ;] include peanut butter balls, mint squares, pinwheels, three-pepper spice cookies, seven-layer bars, lemon Christmas trees, toffee-almond triangles, cappuccino caramels, and extra-guilty saltine toffee :]

The cinnamon rolls were my favorite to make because they’re so pretty and nothing is more comforting than the smell of hot cinnamon buns in the oven. I had come up with the idea of creating a cinnamon roll in cookie form after last Christmas, and have since seen my idea come to life on a couple of different blogs! I decided to test the recipe of Baker’s Royale, mainly because the pictures were so mouth-watering. And the cookies turned out just so. They taste exactly like cinnamon rolls—I would argue even better. And because I refuse to follow any recipe exactly, I traded white flour for whole wheat, used Earth Balance instead of butter, egg white instead of yolk, and a bit less brown sugar for the inside swirl. So at least I could feel a little better about the ingredients, and they still came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with that buttery-cinnamony-sugary swirled middle. Bliss in Christmas-cookie form.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies, from Baker’s Royale

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 T whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t cinnamon, plus 1 T for divided use
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ cup Earth Balance (or butter), softened, plus 3 T for divided use
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, plus ½ cup for divided use
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 T of light corn syrup
  • 1 t vanilla

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoon of milk
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Place ½ cup butter, granulated sugar and ¼ cup of brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light in color. Add in egg white, applesauce, light corn syrup and vanilla and beat to combine. Turn off mixer.
Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour mixture until just combined.  Dough may have some flour streaking. Do not over mix. Divide dough in half and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place remaining 1 T of cinnamon and ½ cup of brown sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Now divide cinnamon and brown sugar mixture in two; one for each portion of halved dough. Set aside.
Remove one wrapped dough. Dough will sticky so place it between two large pieces of wax paper and roll out dough to 1/4inch thickness. Using a pastry brush spread 1 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter on dough. Then sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top and gently press it into dough (I didn’t use the entire cinnamon-sugar mixture). Roll up dough, beginning with long side. Place roll seam side down on plastic wrap and cover tightly. Repeat this once more with reamining dough and 11/2 tablespoon of butter, along with remaining cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Place both rolled doughs back in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
Remove chilled roll and cut into ½ inch slices. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
To make glaze: Sift powdered sugar and add in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until drizzling consistency is achieved.
Drizzle tops of cooled cookies with glaze and let stand at room temperature until glaze dries completely. Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze to keep longer.
To offset (albeit hardly) these days of munching our way through plates of cookies, we’ve been “training” for a Christmas Eve 10k my sister Tara organized with neighbors and friends and family on a beautiful hilly country road, the same run/walk route we did on Thanksgiving but a bit longer to make it a 10k. The sun finally came out from the clouds for the morning and we had about 30 people and 10+ dogs come out for a wonderful run/walk and breakfast party afterwards. It was great! And no surprise that the winners were two brothers, one of which just did a 50-miler. We gave them a basket with some of the sweet treats and chocolate we had around the house, still barely making a dent in our sugar supply. But hey, with all this running we’ve been doing we need the sugar, right?
Sure….
the dogs sure are into it!
and here come the winners!

So it’s Christmas Eve, the sun is still out (maybe the first time in about a week), the family is all here, and we have more than enough cookies to satisfy Santa tonight.

Happy Holidays!

-mich

This post is linked to: Sweets for a Saturday

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