to look a lot like Christmas around here again!
Which means lots of wonderful magical things. Fires in the fireplace, excited children, smells of pine and cinnamon, pine needles all over the floor and the soft glow of Christmas lights. Oh, I love Christmas (even if it is not all sweet and perfect). There’s so much I want to say about Christmas, so much I want to ask (like how in the world do you tone things down?!? but that’s a subject for another post.) For now, I’d like to share two favorite treats that start becoming regulars in our kitchen when all this Christmas hub bub begins.
At the beginning of the season I always assemble about 8 zip lock bags of the dry ingredients for these Molasses Spice Cookies so that I can whip these together at a moments notice. They are hands down the best Ginger cookies you will ever taste. The smell of them, the taste of them, everything about them tells your whole body that it is Christmas. These are always a huge hit when I bring them to holiday parties too. Just make sure to make them big enough and don’t cook them too long!
Molasses Spice Cookies Recipe – Cooks Illustrated
Preparation time: 30 minutes.
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsulphered molasses
1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice together in a bowl and set aside.
2 Use an electric mixer and beat the butter for 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
3 Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
4 Place remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Working with 2 Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
5 Bake until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 9-10 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks .
Note: PLEASE DO NOT OVERCOOK!!! This is key here. The centers of the cookies should be soft and spongy when you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will end up hard and dry. They will not look done when you take them out.
This hot cocoa maker lives on my kitchen countertop during December. You’ll never go back to Swiss miss after making this hot cocoa. The recipe is on the Hershey's cocoa box:
4 cups milk
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
a few squirts vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
The hot cocoa maker is one of my favorite purchases ever. It’s loud, but it makes perfectly heated, frothy hot cocoa in a matter of minutes. You can certainly do the same thing in a pan on the stove, it’s just not quite as fun (or frothy).
I also use this to make steamed milk for the kids before bed sometimes for a treat. And, if I’m feeling defeated and need a little lift during the afternoon lull, I put a cup of milk and a lump of Nutella in there for a yummy, warming, calming treat.