Recipe Re-cap: Holiday Baking Marathon, Part I

Holiday Baking Marathon, Part I has concluded.  I mixed, baked and delivered 8 different kinds of cookies this week.  The experience was fun, incredibly satisfying, and positively exhausting.  I need a nap!

While I go do that, have a look at the some of the highlights:

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(Aside: I really do love the slideshow feature, and I’ll try my best not to overuse it.)

So what did I make this week?

Snickerdoodles, using Martha Stewart’s recipe.  Preparing this dough marked my first experience baking with Crisco.  It’s a very strange substance to look at (and taste), but my, does it make for marvelous texture.  Can’t wait to make a pie crust with the stuff.

Biscotti, the base recipe courtesy of Mr. Mark Bittman.  I made two of my own variations:  Double Chocolate Hazelnut and Cherry Almond.  Almond extract is essential in the latter variation, and adds such a wonderful depth to the flavor of the cookie.  The Cherry Almond biscotti were my favorites, hands down.  I’ll post the recipes when I make more of these cookies this week.

Coconut Lime Butter Cookies, using Bittman’s recipe for butter cookies and making my own variation, adding unsweetened coconut, lime zest and lime juice to the dough, and then rolling the cookies in a mixture of finely shredded coconut and colored sugar before baking.  This experiment-cookie turned out to be a crowd favorite.

Mocha Brownie Cookies, which is a variation on Chocolate Glaciers.  To the base recipe I added finely chopped dark chocolate and 1.5 tablespoons instant espresso.  These cookies are incredibly flavorful; the only thing that makes them cookie-like is their shape.  Biting into one, you’d swear you were eating a brownie.  The Mocha Brownies were the clear winner of the Boyfriend Taste Test award.

Oatmeal Cookies, with dark chocolate, almonds and coconut.  The great thing about Oatmeal Cookies is that you can make endless variations with chocolate, coconut, nuts or dried fruit.  The cookie dough can handle a lot.  My only regret about this recipe was cutting back on the vanilla extract in favor of using almond extract.  Vanilla not only adds a great taste, but it also acts as a flavor-booster, making for a much more richly flavored, cohesive cookie.

Peanut Butter cookies, just a half recipe, but for whatever reason they turned out to be thinner, more crumbly and much more fragile than in previous bakings.  All the flavor was there, but this cookie was a textural disappointment to me.  I’m going to pursue this further as soon as I restock my peanut butter supply.

And, there were the infamous Gingerbread Cookies.  Also a crowd favorite, I think these get the Best Dressed award.

I’ll be doing some more baking (the second part of my marathon) this week for friends and family, though I won’t be sampling any treats until Christmas day.  I’ve had copious amounts of sugar in the past seven days—in the form of dough, baked cookies, and alcohol, this being party season and all.  I could use some vegetable soup and water. Lots and lots of water.

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