And just like that, the 2019 holiday baking odyssey has come to an end. As always, it was a hoot and even though in the 11th hour I swore I’d never do it again, I’m already dreaming about what to do for next year.
If you followed along with the 2019 Holiday Baking Analytics, you already know the stats. I used nearly 80 pounds of sugar, 36 pounds of flour, 29 pounds of butter and 45 pounds of fruits, nuts and other add-ins. I made nine types of cookies this year yielding 3,761 units. We mailed 22 boxes and delivered another 30 or so in person. Folks, my work here is done.
But, just in case you’d like to make your own, I’ve included links to each of the recipes below.
Cheers and happy holidays to all!
or as we call them in our house, Schweddy Balls
Our house looked like a tornado hit it for a day or two.
There was no theme, but I did have a lot of fun with colored duct tape (seriously–get some, it’s a good time).
And a new company for labels, Paper Culture.
I promised we stuffed as much as we could into each box.
Pre-purchasing labels from USPS is the way to go.
As an added bonus, each and every box (and most of the tissue paper) was checked for safety and construction by our quality control crew.
Traditional chocolate crinkle cookies were the second freshman cookie this year. I wanted something simple and chocolatey to replace the World Peace cookies that have been in rotation for many years. After searching through what seemed like hundreds of chocolate cookie recipes, the road lead me to this holiday favorite.
As I researched across recipes for the optimal chocolate crinkle, I learned that like rugelach, there really is only one recipe with slight variations. Nearly all I saw use vegetable oil instead of butter and unsweetened cocoa instead of chocolate.
Again, never to leave well enough alone, my version has the subtle addition of espresso powder. Because, as I’ve said before, why be normal.
- 1 C (90 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 C (325 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 C vegetable oil (I like grapeseed)
- 4 eggs at room temp
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 C (300 grams) all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 TBS espresso powder (optional)
- 1/2 C confectioners/powdered sugar
- In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture.
- Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll dough into one inch balls.
- Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.
Because leaving well enough alone is boring, I like to rotate a couple of the cookie selections each year for holiday baking. This year, one of the new kids is a deeply browned butter, lacy coconut and caramel crispy concoction.
This should not come as a surprise considering my current obsession with caramelized rice crispies. As you might recall, I employed them in various and delicious ways including a Cracker Jack inspired bar, an extra chocolate chip cookie and some meta rice cripsie (or is it Krispy…or Krispie) treats.
And then there is my absolute favorite cookie discovery of 2019: Browned Butter Coconut Cookies.
I know. You know. Where I’m going.
These take some time; the butter needs to brown and cool in advance and the caramel crispies need to be made separately. BUT, if these flavors are your jam, it’s totally worth it.
Brown Butter Caramel Crispies
For the Caramelized Crispy Rice
- 2 C crispy rice cereal (have had good results with both regular and brown rice versions)
- 3 TBS water
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan add sugar. Then add water and mix until sugar dissolves. This is the last time you are going to want to touch the mixture until you take it off the heat the first time.
- Bring mixture to a boil (don’t stir) and allow to simmer until the syrup just starts to brown.
- Remove from heat and mix in cereal (I find a rubber spatula works the best). Gently mix cereal until ever last piece is covered in syrup. By the time you there, everything will have dried and look like its dusted in snow (and now we know how they make Frosted Flakes).
- Return to heat over a medium burned and fold constantly. The sugar will start to melt and caramelize. Keep folding until you reach desired depth of caramelization. I know the version I like is done when the sugar starts to smoke.
- Spread cereal on parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
- From here you can store in an airtight container in big hunks.
For the cookies
- 1 C (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 TBS water
- 1/2 C plus 2 TBS (125 grams) granulated sugar
- 3/4 C (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 C plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Slightly heaped 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 3 C (180 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips
- 1/2 batch caramelized crispy rice (so feel free to eat the other half)
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup.
- Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy.
- Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla.
- Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.
- Fold-in caramelized rice crispies.
- Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, flatten each slightly and arrange all onto a baking sheet (separating layers with parchment paper). Refrigerate for an hour up to over night.
- When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
- Arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on the baking sheets. Bake cookies until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes (rotate halfway through cooking). Repeat to bake all cookies.
- Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.
These are quite possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever made.
I’m not even going to make you try to guess the odd ingredient (mostly because it looks so weird in the pictures that I don’t want your mind going creative places).
Olives. And chocolate. Yes, you read that right.
Does it help if I explain these are meant to be barely sweet and enjoyed with a nice glass of red (and maybe a sharp cheddar)?
I will say that I actually had to drink a couple of glasses of wine before I worked up the courage to bake these babies off.
And you know what? They were delightful. You don’t get olive so much as you get salt. Which is nice with cocoa. If you are looking for something a little unusual to add to a cheese board or maybe a unique addition to the traditional host gift of a bottle of wine, give these a try.
Chocolate Olive Cookies
from Dorie’s Cookies, Dorie Greenspan
makes about 60 cookies
- 1 1/4 C (170g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C (32g) cornstarch
- 1/4 C (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 stick (8 TBS, 4 ounces, 113g) unsalted butter, at room temp and cut into chunks)
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 C (67g) sugar
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/3 C (50g) chopped, pitter oil-cured black olives (I used Kalmata because we have a giant Costco jar on hand at all times)
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder.
- Working with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat the butter and olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
- Add the yolk and beat for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn off mixer, add dry ingredients and pulse to start blending. Mix on low until ingredients are incorporated and you have moist curds. Pull the bowl off the mixer and fold-in olives.
- Turn the dough out, kneed briefly to bring dough together. Divide it in half. Roll each half into a slender log 8-81/2 inches long. Wrap the logs in plastic and refrigerate over night (or freeze).
- When you are ready to bake, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
- One log at a time, cut cold dough into 1/4 inch discs and place them on baking sheets, about an inch apart.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes rotating halfway through (done cookies will be firm to the touch). Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheets for at least 3 minutes. Carefully transfer to racks to cool completely.
At this point I must have half a dozen sable recipes scattered throughout TMH’s pages. I just can’t help myself. And, I have no intention of stopping.
When the Wall Street Journal published their mother recipe for sables in the Off Duty section just before the holidays I was on it like an otter on an oyster.
I had some leftover candied orange peel and ginger from my own holiday baking and decided to throw them in.
As a category, sables are a lesson in simplicity. Just four ingredients: butter, sugar, flour and salt. And this recipe my friends, is the closest I’ve come to the golden quadrangle.
Slightly sweet, crumbly and while delicious plain, just asking for fun and unique combinations.
If you decide to fancy-up your sables, you’ll need about 3/4 to 1 cup of goodies. Need some ideas? How about:
- Any kind of freeze dried fruit, chopped (Trader Joes is a great source)
- Citrus zest: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange
- Herbs: fresh mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender (as a note–start with 1 TBS chopped and go from there). If you are going to herbs, a good way to further infuse flavor is to measure out your sugar and add it and your herbs to a ziplock bag. Let “steep” for at least an hour.
- Chocolate: any kind. Chop it up and add it in
- Teas: Chai, Earl Grey and fruity teas work well. Depending on how strong you want the flavor, start with a teaspoon and go from there
- Candied fruit
Master Sable Recipe
The Wall Street Journal
makes 24 cookies
note–this recipe doubles very well
- 11 TBS (1 stick plus 3 TBS) unsalted butter at room temp (use good quality here with high fat content like Plugra)
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
- 1 3/4 C all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 C sanding sugar, turbanado or Demarara for rolling
- 1 C total mix-ins of choice
- Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and whipped, 2-3 minutes.
- Add sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Add salt and beat to combine.
- Add flour and beat until almost all flour disappears into the dough. Finish by giving the dough a few good folds with a rubber spatula. The dough will be crumbly.
- Divide dough in half (I use the food scale here but eye balling works). Gently coax first half into a general log shape. Set the log on to parchment paper and roll it back and forth until you have an even log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 8ish inches long. Set aside and repeat with other log.
- Sprinkle the sanding/decorating sugar onto your parchment and gently roll each log until the surface is completely coated.
- Roll each log individually in either plastic wrap or parchment. As a note, I first roll the log in a sheet of parchment, then place in a paper-towel roll and THEN wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap. Rolls can now be frozen for up to two months. They can also be baked from frozen but I prefer to move them to the fridge a couple of hours before I want to bake, I think they cut more nicely.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds in the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment.
- Remove parchment/paper towel/plastic wrap from logs. Using a sharp knife, cut into 3/8 inch disks. Arrange cookies on baking sheets with about an inch in-between (the sables will not spread).
- Bake for 18-21 minutes rotating sheets halfway through and until sables are lightly toasted. Let stand for 1-2 minutes then slide the parchment off the pan and onto a heat-proof surface. Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from parchment.
- These freeze well.
Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I deliver baked goods to friends and colleagues. And, that’s not just because I like to lurk in dark alleyways and whisper, “hey kid, you wanna smoke some drugs?” out of the side of my mouth.
It’s also not the whole sugar is a drug thing (Yes, I know it is. No, I’m not going to stop baking).
Maybe it’s because my hobby yields something people generally seem to want to consume. Then there is that part where people enjoy and then talk about why they shouldn’t have. It may also have something to do with my ties to the Salamancas Family. Anyhow on to the biggest baking drug deal of the year: 2018 Holiday Baking!
My analytics weren’t super awesome this year. I just didn’t have time to work on data visualization. In their place, I offer a summary:
- 35 pounds of butter
- 75 pounds of sugar
- 25 pounds of fruits and nuts
- 25 pounds of chocolate
- 3500 units
And some old fashioned visuals. You’ll find a list of everything I baked with links at the bottom.
Holiday Baking 2018: The List
Candied Orange Peel
World Peace Cookies
Royal Icing (Sweet Sugarbelle)
Rum Butter Nuts
Peanut butter (schweddy) balls
Almond Butter Crunch
Cranberry White Chocolate Doodles (recipe isn’t quite ready for prime time)