Thursday, December 20, 2012

How Sweet It Is

Oh gosh.  Here's the thing about us: we love cookies (especially Liz, but Lolo doesn't discriminate either).  So when it comes to holiday treats for our co-workers, we go old-fashioned and bring on the butter.  We know, we know: in our offices of predominantly women, everyone is always "watching their waistlines" and sweet treats this time of year are more than a-plenty.  But here's the other thing: we don't care (everything in moderation, ladies!).  Because for us, baking is a time-honored family tradition: our beloved Nana and our great Aunt Lucy used to start their holiday cookies right after Thanksgiving.  So now, fifty years later, when another pair of sisters stir the sugar and eggs together, we are not only creating cookies for our friends, but linking ourselves to our ancestry.  I guess you could say icing runs in our blood.  (Does this justify the mass quantity of sugar we've consumed this past week?) So after years of perfecting our assortment, below are our favorite go-to goodies, with the help of our dear friend Paula.  And of course we wrap them in tartans and burlap (always such a hit!).

Paula Deen's Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies
Since we're from St. Louis, we're geographically drawn to gooey butter.  We love Paula's twist on our St. Louis favorite with the increasingly trendy red-velvet, not only for the taste but also the brilliant color.  Our tip: since the powdered sugar gets semi-absorbed into the unbaked cookie, don't be shy with it at first and feel free to sprinkle on more after the cookies come out of the oven.


I N G R E D I E N T S :
8oz. (1 brick) Cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. Butter, softened (1 stick)
1 egg
1 t. Vanilla
1 (18-ounce) box red velvet cake mix
Powdered sugar, for rolling/dusting

T H E   H O W :
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
3. Beat in egg, then the vanilla.
4. Beat in the cake mix.
5. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up.
6. Roll batter into tablespoon-sized balls and then roll them in powdered sugar.
7. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.


Paula Deen's Monster Cookies
We get requests for these year after year!  They're super easy and one batch makes 3 dozen.  Extra presentation points for displaying them like a wreath for your holiday party.  (It's as easy as it sounds.)  


I N G R E D I E N T S :
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins, optional
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

T H E   H O W :
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
2.  In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
3.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in large resealable plastic bags.


Cake Balls
By far our most requested treat!  (Even better than Starbucks; there's a reason these little morsels are so popular!)  You can mix and match cake flavors, icing, and chocolate coatings for infinite (and addictive!) possibilities.  Dipping and decorating requires patience, but your friends and family will rave about these.




I N G R E D I E N T S :
1 (18.25 oz) package cake mix, any flavor (We recommend vanilla, chocolate, or red velvet.)
1 (16 oz) container of prepared frosting (We recommend vanilla or peppermint for vanilla cake, chocolate for chocolate cake, and creamed cheese for red velvet cake.)
1 (3 oz) bar white, milk, or dark chocolate

T H E   H O W :
1.  Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.

2.  Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the cake mixture. 

3.  Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering 
water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  (Be careful not to overheat!)  

4.  Working quickly before the melted chocolate hardens, dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set.

5.  Decorate using sprinkles (we love pearlized, neon, and clear!), almond pieces, peppermint, or 
whatever else you can imagine!

   

Wrapping them up!
Of course with us presentation is everything.  Which is why we mix and match tartan fabrics and burlap (found at Joann Fabric and Crafts) with our favorite ribbons and twine (we love the selection at Michael's).  It's easy to make your own gift tags too using tags and a rubber stamp (both also available at Michael's).  We hope the below inspires you!  Happy holidays!  





 

   

5 comments:

  1. I think I gained 5 lbs just reading this post! Can't wait to make the red velvet cookies...yum!

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  2. I literally just pulled my second pan of red velvet cookies out of the oven and, oh my...those things are sinful!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Dana! So glad you're making (and enjoying!) them! We should have warned you they turn your kitchen red! (But so worth it!) Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

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  3. I have made Paula's chocolate version before... and LOVE them. I am printing this out and making red velvet for Christmas today! Thanks for the inspiration!

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