Saturday, 31 December 2011

Opinions from the Kitchen: December Cookie Review

Welcome to 'Opinions from the Kitchen', which I'm hoping to make into a regular monthly thing. After trying tons of recipes from the internet, I've found that they can be divided pretty equally into three categories: 'Awesome', 'Ok but needing modifications', and 'Really blah'. I want to do my part to spread the word about the awesome ones, and warn you away from the really blah ones.

Today's review will focus on cookies!
Before I get on with the cookie review, however, I figured it was important to establish my credentials as a baker. This picture of a typical Christmas eve at my house should pretty much sum it up: 

On this table, I have:

            - Chocolate peanut butter balls
            - Chocolate chip cookies
            - Pets de soeur (known to anglos as 'pinwheels')
            - Chocolate fudge with and without almonds
            - Rice Krispie Squares
            - Oatmeal chocolate macaroons
            - Rocky road bars
            - Gingersnaps
            - Peanut butter cookies
My annual tradition over the last decade or longer has been to bake at least sixty dozen cookies & squares in the days leading up to Christmas in order to create cookie boxes as gifts for family and friends. This may seem like an impossibly crazy amount of baking for one employed person to do in a few days, but if we assume that each batch makes about 5 dozen, that's only 10 to 20 batches to bake, and I usually double the recipe so that I get two done at once. So basically, I'm only up until 4am for two days.

Don't they look adorably delicious in their little boxes? I always buy reusable plastic containers instead of cookie tins so that the recipient can get a lot use out of them once they've eaten the baked goods. They're also see-through, which means the stack of cookie boxes looks awesome under the tree.

Every year, I make the staples, but I also try to bring in a few new types of goodies based on feedback from the year before. I've learned that one aunt likes extra fudge while another likes extra PB balls, that one cousin is crazy about rocky road bars, that my dad's favourites are peanut butter cookies and mini cheesecakes, and that my mom doesn't like anything made with coconut.

This year, I was away for the holidays so the baking volume went down significantly. I made some old favourites and tried some classics with a twist. Here's a quick review of the winners for this season.

Terry's Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies

I first heard about these from a coworker and they are my mom's current favourites. She requests a batch at every available opportunity. They're extremely simple in terms of ingredients, but the process is pretty work intensive considering that each batch only makes 20 cookies (the chocolate orange only has 20 wedges). The orange peel in the dough gives the shortbread a punch of flavour, and the chocolate drives it home. These are large cookies though, and they don't change shape much in the oven. Flattening them before baking really makes a difference if you want a nice surface on which to put your orange wedge. They'll turn out equally well whether you use a dark or milk chocolate orange.

Gingersnaps with Dark Chocolate Chips

These are the only cookies I've ever made that don't taste particularly good when they're still warm. W
hen they first came out of the oven,I was super disappointed because the dark chocolate completely masked the ginger. Once they cooled though, the flavours came out a lot more. There's a good mix of crunchy ginger cookie and not-too-sweet chocolate. They're excellent with coffee. Next time I make these, I will add a little bit of extra flour to make them more crumbly and more crinkly.

Dark Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies

These may actually be the best cookies I've ever had. The moment I saw this recipe, I knew our love was meant to be. They're a perfect mixture of soft fudgy chocolate cookie, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. I once tried adding Skor bits - don't bother, they just get lost. Go bake a batch right now, you won't be sorry.


  1. Thank you so much for joining my linky party! This post rocks!

  2. Oh my goodness....its cookie heaven! When can I come over? So glad you linked up at Overflowing with Creativity!!! See you this Wednesday!

    XO, Aimee

  3. Yes, totally knew I could count on you for a cookie recipe. I wanted a decent chocolate chip cookie recipe where they don't come out all flat and crispy. I will be trying it without the cocoa, and I will be sure to let you know how it goes~