White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

It’s Christmas time and that means baking cookies for friends and family.  I usually bake a batch of spritz, Italian cookies, pizzellespretzel turtles and may be a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Then I try a new recipe or two in an effort to add to my repertoire.   None from last year made the cut.

The new recipes this year are White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction and confetti cookies from Smitten Kitchen (I’ll write a separate post for this).

The White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies are okay.  They are probably better than okay… But personally, they didn’t wow me so I’ll have to wait on verdicts from the friends and family members.

Soso has tried one already and she likes them. But she did mention that the one advantage to this cookie is that you won’t eat too many.  Doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, does it?  I don’t want to give a bad impression though.  They are perfectly fine cookies. May be someone is a dried cranberry fan and will pick this cookie over the fabulous chocolate chip cookie.  May be you’ll eat this cookie because you hate dark chocolate.  May be if you’re going to eat five cookies, this will be one of your five.  But in all honesty, if I could eat only one of my cookies, it would be this one.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 40 mins
Makes: 2.5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg and vanilla.

On low-speed, slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Add the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries mix on low for a few seconds until evenly disbursed. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. This cookie dough must be chilled.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes for 2 hour chill time. If chilled longer than 2 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Scoop about 1.5 tablespoon of dough each and roll the dough into balls. Place 10 – 12 on each baking sheet 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

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Blueberry Boy Bait

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I printed this recipe off Smitten Kitchen back in July of 2009.  Gosh, five years ago… The recipe looks good and is simple so I don’t know why it sat in my recipe binder all these years without being made.  Well, thanks to a last minute dinner invitation from the neighbor and having all the ingredients for this recipe on hand, as opposed to other blueberry recipes that required yogurt or cream cheese that I didn’t, I finally got to try this recipe out.

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How blessed I feel for the dinner invite and for not having any yogurt or cream cheese because Blueberry Boy Bait is heavenly.  It definitely would bait a boy and more.  The kids actually, apart from my eldest odd girl out, enjoyed the packaged cupcakes with the copious amount of icing, but the adults loved it.  Served with some vanilla bean ice cream, it was summer dessert perfection.

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Blueberry Boy Bait
*From Smitten Kitchen

Prep time: 15 mins Bake time: 45 – 50 mins
Serves: 12 – 16

Ingredients

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or whole)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not defrost)

Topping
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour a 9 by 13 baking pan.

Whisk together 2 cups of flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add one egg at a time while beating.

Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until it’s just incorporated. Beat in half the milk. Beat half of the remaining flour mixture, then milk and then the rest of the flour mixture.

Toss blueberries with the 1 teaspoon of flour and gently fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

For the topping, scatter the blueberries on top of the batter. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the blueberries.

Place pan in the middle rack in the oven and bake 45 – 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan. It can be served warm or at warm temperature.

Basic Pizzelle

Pizzelle are traditional Italian waffle cookies made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter or oil and flavoring. The basic recipe calls for vanilla extract and anise seeds, but it can be easily adapted to use any citrus zest or oil, amaretto, rum, almond extract, or even cocoa powder. I usually make mine with vanilla extract since they are usually consumed by kids who may not like anise seeds.

Pizzelle are made in a pizzelle iron which looks similar to a waffle iron, but with flatter grooves. The resulting cookie is flat with a snowflake like pattern stamped on one side and waffle pattern on the other side. The cookie can be hard and crispy or softer and chewy, depending on the ingredients. The recipe below is for hard and crispy since that’s what my family likes.

If you’ve only tasted the store-bought packaged pizzelle, you’re really missing out. Homemade pizzelle are so much tastier! Sure, you have to invest about $45 or more on a pizzelle iron, but it’s worth the investment. Making pizzelle is super easy and worth the bit of effort. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like pizzelle! Pizzelle can also be shaped to make waffle cones for ice cream, cups for fruits and custards or cannoli shells. I’ve read they can be used to make ice cream sandwiches as well, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Soso chose pizzelle to bring to school as her birthday treat so I made a double batch, one with vanilla and one with cocoa. Of course Peanut couldn’t wait to sample.

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I was a little concerned about packaging since they are large and fragile. Luckily, I was able to fit both batches, about 60 pizzelle into the large baking pan. I told Soso to carry them carefully to school and fortunately, only a few broke. She was happy to report that the pizzelle was universally popular and some of her classmates even thanked her profusely for the tasty treat!

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Here’s a photo of the just done pizzelle still in the iron at 30 seconds. You can see the slightly golden color. If you like more toasted taste, just increase the time by 5 seconds or more. Experiment! I’ve done up to 45 seconds and resulting cookie is browner and there’s a more of a “burnt” taste, but not in a bad way.

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Basic Pizzelle

Yields: 30 cookies       Time: 45 mins

Ingredients

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted and cooled butter
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder

Optional flavoring:
lemon/orange zest
lemon extract
almond extract
amaretto and rum
cocoa powder (add 3 tbs cocoa powder and 3 tbs sugar and leave out anise)

Directions

Preheat the pizzelle iron per manufacturer’s instructions. Lightly coat the iron grids with vegetable oil or spray.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Beat in oil and vanilla until blended. Sift flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold in until just blended. The dough should be a little stiff.

Place a tablespoon of the dough just behind the center of the pattern, close the lid and cook for 30 seconds. Open the lid and remove the pizzelle to a cooling surface. Store cooled pizzelle in an airtight container.

Tips:

  • Use two spoons, one to scoop out the dough and one to scrape it onto the pizzelle iron.
  • If making chocolate pizzelle, use a little less flour for thinner cookies. Otherwise, the pizzelle comes out a little thicker.
  • Dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a couple of days. Just let it warm up a little before cooking.
  • Pizzelle stored in an airtight container will keep for a couple of weeks. I have heard pizzelle can be put in the freezer, but I haven’t tried it.