Monday, December 22, 2008

Betty Crocker: Crisp Chocolate-Espresso Ribbon Cookies and Martha Stewart's Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

It is nearly Christmas, therefore I must bake cookies. It's like a law of the universe. It cannot be violated. And no, the linzer sables and the sugar cookies I made recently do NOT fulfill the quota. One of my favorite childhood memories was flipping through a cookie cookbook my mom had, and I would spend hours staring at all the amazing little things that fell under the heading "cookie". It was better than any Nancy Drew novel. Yes, I was that child. Anyway, the gingerbread cookies are amazingly spicy and delicious, while the ribbon cookies made my whole kitchen smell like a Starbucks. Bonus.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
From Martha Stewart's Cookies

7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into ¼-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger,cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1½ teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

Heat oven to 325°F. Roll dough into 1½-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Crisp Chocolate-Espresso Ribbon Cookies

1 pouch sugar cookie mix
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, slightly beaten
⅓ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
½ cup coarsely to finely crushed chocolate-covered espresso coffee beans
⅓ cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds

Line bottom and sides of 9x5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, flour, butter, almond extract and egg until soft dough forms. Divide dough in half; place half of dough in another bowl. Stir melted chocolate into half of dough. To remaining half of dough, mix in espresso beans and almonds.
Firmly press half of chocolate dough evenly in bottom of loaf pan. Evenly press half of espresso dough over chocolate dough in pan. Repeat with remaining chocolate dough and espresso dough. Fold plastic wrap over dough to cover. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
Heat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from pan; unwrap. Place dough on cutting board. Cut dough crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Cut each piece crosswise into ¼-inch slices. On ungreased cookie sheets, place slices 2 inches apart.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.

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