It doesn't matter whether your December holiday of choice is Hannukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, one thing unites us all: 'tis the season for cookies! Last week it was Hanukkah Gelt Coin Cookies, and this week we're celebrating the upcoming Christmas holiday with two Christmas candy recipes: Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies and Christmas Biscotti.
These treats are perfect for munching while decorating the tree, leaving out for Santa Claus, or packaging and giving as gifts. The recipes themselves aren't magically Christmassy, it's the colors and flavors of the add-ins that give them their holiday sparkle. Here are my secret ingredients: Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies get a big hit of mint flavor and some bold red and white color from these Christmas Mint Lentils.
While the Christmas Biscotti uses both red pistachios and green pistachios. Although they may not taste too different, I'm convinced that both colors are necessary to make a true Christmas biscotti.
Ready to stop talkin' and start bakin'? Let's go! First we'll tackle the Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies.
Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies
yield: about 30 cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, cut into pieces
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup Christmas Mint Lentils
This recipe is so quick and easy, you don't even need a mixer to make it. Start by preheating the oven to 325. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, and whisk or sift until they're combined and your cocoa powder doesn't have any lumps.
Place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a large heat-safe bowl, and microwave until they're melted. Be sure to stir after every 30-45 seconds so the chocolate doesn't overheat or burn. Once it's melted, let it cool for about 5 minutes so it's no longer hot.
Add the sugar, the eggs, and the vanilla to the melted chocolate mixture, and whisk until it's totally combined and shiny and smooth.
Now add your dries, mixing them in with a spatula until they're totally incorporated and you don't have any clumps of flour or cocoa. Stop mixing once everything comes together so the cookies don't get over-mixed and tough.
Now for the fun part: add the Christmas Mint Lentils! Add about 3/4 cup of the lentils, set the rest aside for now, and stir until they're mixed in. The great thing about the mint lentils is that they're not a chocolate candy with a little hint of mint as an afterthought, they're pure mint through and through. So when you add them to baked goods, like these Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies, they bring a strong mint punch that mixes nicely with the dark chocolate cookie.
Scoop the cookies into small balls on parchment-covered baking sheets. Since we want these cookies to really pop with Christmas colors, take the lentils you set aside, and press 2-3 of them directly on top of each cookie ball. This way, when they spread during baking, they'll still have red and green candies right on top.
Bake Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies for about 12-14 minutes, until they've spread and have a few cracks on the surface. Let them cool for a few minutes on the tray, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. These rich chocolate cookies are soft and chewy, with just the right amount of crunch from the mint lentils.
It wouldn't be the holidays without a marathon baking session, so we're not stopping at just one cookie. I think all cookie gift plates need some serious variety, so we're going to make Christmas Biscotti, which are the exact opposite of the Chocolate-Mint Cookies: crunchy, not chewy, tall and thin, not fat and round, made with fruit and nuts instead of chocolate and mint, and more suited to adults than kids.
yield: about 3 dozen
- 3-1/4 cups flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 5 oz (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- zest of one orange or two tangerines
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries or orange-flavored dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup red pistachios
- 3/4 cup green pistachios
Again--no surprises here--we're going to start by whisking together the flour, baking powder, and salt. You should be an expert flour-whisker by this point.
A change! We'll be using the mixer for this one. If you have a stand mixer, great, otherwise a hand mixer will get the job done nicely. Combine the sugar and melted butter and beat them together, then add the eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Beat on medium-high until combined.
Now add all the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed just until it's combined. If you over-mix the biscotti will start to get tough. By the end of the mixing you should have a stiff, but slightly sticky dough.
Time for mix-ins! Add the dried cranberries, the red pistachios, and 1/2 cup each of the white chocolate chips and the green pistachios. Doesn't the look of this bowl just scream Christmas? Stir until everything is mixed together.
Preheat the oven to 350, and cover a baking sheet with parchment. Divide the dough in half and form it into two rough logs on the parchment, then use your hands or a bench scraper to press each into a bar roughly 12 inches by 3 inches. If it helps, you can spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray to make it easier to shape the dough. Although I always try to get my biscotti logs really neat and tidy, the truth is they spread while they bake, so it's doesn't really matter how perfect they are when they go into the oven. Bake the Christmas biscotti logs for 30 minutes, until they're golden brown.
After they come out of the oven, let them cool for at least a half-hour before slicing them. Use a very sharp serrated knife to cut the biscotti into 3/4-inch slices on the diagonal. If you use a lot of downward pressure the logs have a tendency to crack, so try not to press down and instead to just gently saw back and forth. Place the sliced Christmas biscotti back on the baking sheet and return it to the oven for 15 minutes to crisp up.
After they're baked, the Christmas biscotti is technically done, but I like to add just a little decoration. Finely chop the remaining 1/4 cup of green pistachios, and melt the remaining 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips. Drizzle the cooled biscotti with white chocolate, and sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top.
Now the Christmas biscotti is finished! This Christmas cookie has a little bit of everything: crunchy nuts, chewy cranberries, rich white chocolate, and fragrant orange zest, all together in a sweet, crunchy cookie. Try it dipped in coffee or hot chocolate, or give them away with a batch of Chocolate-Mint Christmas Cookies. Merry Christmas!