There are cookies for those who finish all their supper, cookies for Christmas, cookies for Italian weddings, cookies for jars, cookies for Muppet monsters and Cookie's, 2304 N Western Ave., for karaoke, but perhaps the most important cookies of all are those we make for the man in red — Santa Claus.
While Saint Nick has never seemed too fussy about what cookies are left on the plate at my house, doesn't it stand to reason that the cookies you leave for the right jolly old elf be as special as the booty he leaves behind? Don't you know he gets his fill of expertly decorated but blandly flavored seasonal cookies?
So, I decided to throw a cookie exchange, inviting some of the finest cookie makers I know. What a great way to ensure Kris Kringle's belly maintains its jelly than with a variety of cookies made with love. Plus, a cookie exchange might be a nice change from the usual Dirty Santa or gift exchange for parties where all the goers don't know each other well enough to gift effectively.
Homemade cookies served hot from the heart are better than any chicken soup ever served to or from the soul.
Joining the exchange was Sherrel Jones, whom you know from these pages. Vivian Boroff is a food blogger and baker extraordinaire. Nichole Moisant, who is a self-described culinary conqueress, Oklahoma enthusiast and idea engineer, is a recent law school graduate and binge baker. Sheri Guyse spends her days preaching the gospel of A Good Egg Dining Group and her nights pacing before the oven. Alison Estus is a member of Team Chesapeake by day with a heart of ginger and spice and everything nice. While she almost always has some sort of bun in the oven, she is expecting her first child in June.
Our own Melba Lovelace was supposed to join our cookie exchange but took ill. Get well soon, Melba.
As for me, I tell folks all the time I'm no baker, and I invited the ladies up to prove it. I learned to make one good cookie a few years ago and have stuck with it. I'm in the process of trying to tackle baking more seriously, but in the meantime, I busted out this chocoholic's dream. It's what I call the Quadruple Chocolate Knuckle-Sandwich Cookie. Four kinds of chocolate plus espresso powder is a swift, rich punch in the mouth that is sure to carry Santa through the rest of his trip. I recommend he feed some to the reindeer, which will fuel Rudolph's nose well into Easter and save Santa from having to shout the names of the rest to spur them into launch.
While these chocolate knuckle sandies are best eaten fresh, you might want to save some in an airtight container until morning for the kiddos. Otherwise, your only hope of them sleeping might be sugar-fit-induced collision with a wall.
QUADRUPLE-CHOCOLATE KNUCKLE-SANDWICH COOKIES
Makes 2 dozen cookies
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
¾ stick unsalted butter, cubed
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
1½ cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
• Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
• In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, then vanilla and espresso, and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
• On low speed, stir in the melted chocolate mixture until just combined.
• Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined.
• Stir in the chips and pecans.
• Place batter in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mine takes 6 minutes 30 seconds to heat up, which allows enough time for the butter in the batter to firm up just enough so the cookies don't spread thin.
• Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the batter onto the parchment-lined sheet. There should have room for eight cookies.
• Bake for 10 to11 minutes.
• While the first batch is cooking, return batter to the fridge and line a second cookie sheet with parchment paper. Just before the first batch is done, prepare another batch on the second cookie sheet.
• Once the first batch is done, slide the parchment off the cookie sheet and let cool on the counter. Return remaining batter to fridge. By the time the second batch is nearly done, the first cookie sheet should be cool enough to prepare for the third and final batch.
• Wrap leftovers well in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.
• Source: Adapted from a recipe by Bobby Flay.