Christmas Cookies!

I know it’s only 4 months past Christmas 2013…. but never too late to revisit some Christmas cookie making. As you can see, I’m catching up on my post backlog 🙂

I had the girls over for a Christmas cookie decorating party and wanted to post the fruits of our labor. We had an assortment of sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. I love the basic sugar cookie recipe by Sweet Sugar Belle, found here. There really is minimal spreading during baking, hence less cookie shape distortion. As far as the gingerbread, I just used the Pillsbury ready-made cookie dough- which surprisingly holds it’s shape well and also tastes delicious!

Steph's Iphone 1893The cookie spread!

Steph's Iphone 1885We had a few standard Christmas cookies- candy canes, Santas, reindeer… and then some unique ones- ninja bread men, Hawaiian gingerbread men…a Spartan mitten!

  Steph's Iphone 1887Lauren brought an ugly sweater cookie cutter and decorated these amazing little gems! So stylish.

Steph's Iphone 1888Another fun assortment by the crew- Steph, Nancy, Meg, Karen & Lauren!

Only 8 more months till our next round 😉

 

 

 

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When life gives you lemons….

…you turn them into cupcakes and cookies. Becky and I have started these periodic bake-capades, as I’ve dubbed them, and this time around the focus was lemon! Light, fruity, and versatile, we decided to tackle two recipes: Lemon drop cupcakes (from the Better Homes and Garden 150 Cupcakes issue) and Lemon Ricotta cookies (courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis, of Everyday Italian).

Lemon Drop cupcakes (in amazing pirate themed, double lined with aluminum cupcake wrappers). I found the recipe online at the Better Homes and Garden recipe index. I’ll paraphrase and paste it here. But if you want the real deal without buying the magazine and misplacing it (like I did, I think it’s in my car)… here’s the link.

Making the frosting. It’s pretty sweet, and doesn’t have a strong lemon flavor, but combined with the cupcake? Scrumptious!

We sorta improvised on the piping. Plop!

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Makes: 20 ( 2-1/2-inch) cupcakes
Prep: 40 minutes
Bake: 18 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) or milk
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 recipe Lemon Frosting

Directions

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twenty 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup combine milk and limoncello; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and lemon peel; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.

4. Bake about 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.

5. Up to 1 hour before serving, generously spread or pipe Lemon Frosting on each cupcake.

Lemon Frosting: Allow 1/3 cup butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl beat butter, 1/3 cup shortening, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Gradually beat in 2 cups additional powdered sugar. Beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes about 2-1/3 cups frosting.

What surprised me the most about these cupcakes is how absolutely lemony they were! I was skeptical at first of how the flavor would be, as I’ve been dissapointed in the past with other lemon recipes. But I think the addition of the Limoncello, along with a healthy amount of fresh lemon zest and juice, lent to a moist, flavorful cupcake. I’ve decided this will be my go-to lemon cake recipe from now on.

 

Lemon Ricotta cookies

This recipe is from Giada de Laurentiis, as I mentioned above. Same deal- paraphrased recipe and a link.

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cookies:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. 

Sorry guys, no process photos. Just trust me, these are tasty.

I’m usually afraid of eating cookies because (this sounds bizarre considering how much I love to bake and how big my sweet tooth is) I don’t like things that are too sweet. This cookie struck the perfect balance for me. It had a nice light lemon frosting (which was a good touch) but could go either way. I felt like it was more of a food cookie rather than a dessert cookie, as in, it had substance as well as was fun to eat. The ricotta gave  it that oomph to bring it from being a nutritional wasteland to something that could pass as the occasional breakfast treat. Try them, and you’re in for a nice, dense yet soft cookie with a great flavor.

Bon Appetit!