If it’s wrong to love homemade cookies, then slap the handcuffs on because I don’t ever want to be right. This past weekend, I met with the Feisty Foodie, Hungry, and KC at Ōttō for a cookie exchange. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this idea myself but am super glad Yvo brought it up. It’s great to have friends who love to set up events like this!
Look at this array of goodies! My cookie booty is laid out on the holiday napkin Yvo used to wrap her Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies (just to the left of the red Chinese take-out box) and she even included non-baked morsels of awesomeness: smoked almonds & dried cherry bark, sea salt Kahlua caramels, candied orange peels, and a star-shaped sugar cookie with its respective owner’s initial piped on top. Yeah, she’s fancy like that. I love having friends who go all out!
Some people might think it weird to sprinkle sea salt on top of a chocolate chip cookie, but believe me, it is a wonderful and simple way to bring out the warm caramel-iness of this classic while giving a satisfying crunch. Genius! The edges had a beautifully crisp snap while the center was chewy. It’s exactly the texture I look for in a good chocolate chip cookie, and this was good for sure. I teased Yvo about the lack of chocolate in the cookie I tasted as soon as I got home but to be fair, it was the only one that was missing its chocolate chips; the rest were only a little light on chocolate. At first, I was a bit dismayed. After subsequent tastings, however, I discovered that a cookie NOT chock full of chocolate was actually a bonus in this case; I was able to taste the vanilla and deep caramel notes from the brown sugar, which only served to emphasize the chocolate, and the whole cookie just tasted…better. Better than nearly any other chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had, and I’m certain it’s because the recipe she used is a little off the eaten path. 😀
Here are Hungry’s Toffee and Hazelnut Cookies. I finished the entire dozen in a day. I cannot promise that I took a breath between bites, they were so fantastic. I love baked goods with nuts in them and the hazelnuts in these were fragrant, crisp, and a gorgeous complement to the bits of toffee scattered with careful judiciousness in each cookie.
These are KC’s Italian Nut Balls./snickers
What? You know you were thinking the same thing! 😛
Anyway, I’m noshing on the nut balls as I type and getting powdered sugar all over my keyboard. I don’t really care because these things are so damned good, I’m pretty sure KC coated them in actual crack (you should taste her stromboli!). So smooth and rich with butter and roasty-toasty walnuts, and just the right size to pop into your mouth. The best thing is, these nuggets of fabulousness have a tender sweetness to them that doesn’t hit you over the head. Instead, it lets you bask in the warmth of its own simplicity. I kinda want KC to move in with me so she can cook and bake for me every day.
And my contribution? Lavender sugar cookies. This time, the color was more vibrant because I used lavender sanding sugar instead of granulated sugar. The biggest difference between the two sugars is, well, size. Another benefit to sanding sugar is the crunch and sparkliness it lends to the finished product. If you don’t happen to have lavender sanding sugar, you can use food coloring and mix it into the sugar really really well. And then mix some more because it’ll clump.
Our cookie exchange was the most fun I’d had in a long time. I’m truly blessed to have friends to share my baking as well as a wonderful meal with. I can’t wait for next year’s cookie exchange!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Hungry’s Toffee & Hazelnut Cookies
(Makes about 60 cookies)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 bag Heath bar brickle bits (look in supermarket aisle where you find choco chips)
1 bag of chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 375F.
1. Cream butter, sugar, brown, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs. Mix well.
2. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. After you mix the base, you can add any other ingredients you want. This is the same base I use for my chocolate chip cookies.
4. Shape into golf ball sizes setting about 1-1.5 inches apart on lined cookie sheet. I use a Silpat.
5. Bake 7-9 minutes depending on your oven.
6. Cool in pan on rack for at least 5 minutes. They’ll be too soft to move.
7. Remove and finish cooling on rack.
KC’s Italian Nut Balls
1 cup butter
2 egg yolks
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven 350.
2. Cream butter, sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, then flour and finally nuts.
3. Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown on the bottom.
4. Roll in confectioners’ sugar while hot and then again when cooled.