Holiday Baking: Butter, Sugar & Love

After about a week of baking (and a passing reference to my work in the previous Christmas themed blog), I’ve decided to dedicate an entire entry to this year’s beloved creations.  All of my recipes came from the Food Network Christmas Cookie website, but I did end up tweaking them a bit.  Read on for photos and recipes of Peppermint Graham Bark, Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Cookies, and my absolute favorite Lemon Shortbread Squares!

Peppermint Graham Bars

In my last entry, I mentioned a recipe from the Food Network site for Turtle Graham Bars- Graham Crackers covered in homemade caramel and chocolate.  I tried that recipe and it was great, but REALLY sweet — and not nearly Christmasy enough.  So I tweaked it a little bit to include a pepperminty syrup rather than caramel, and crumbled candy canes on top instead of pecans.  Here’s the recipe for the 1 batch I made, which filled 2 paper plates (1/2 of the batch is seen above).

Peppermint Graham Bark

~7 Graham crackers (I used low fat honey graham crackers)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Peppermint extract
1 crumbled candy cane
~6 oz chocolate

1) Preheat oven to 350˚.  Arrange crackers on cookie tray.  I would recommend putting down foil or spraying Pam.
2) Mix butter, sugar, peppermint extract, and a pinch of salt.  Heat on stovetop while stirring constantly.  Pour evenly over the crackers and bake for 15 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, melt the chocolate.

The best way to melt chocolate is to get a pot of simmering (not boiling) water on the stove, then fit a glass bowl on top of it and stir the chocolate as it melts. Be sure to chop the chocolate finely (using chocolate chips can work as well).

The other way to melt chocolate correctly is to microwave it at small intervals (usually about 30 seconds) and stir in between.

4) Once chocolate is melted, spread it over the crackers, sprinkle the candy canes, and chill until ready to eat!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Cookies

If you like Mexican Chocolate or any variation of it, you’ll love these cookies.  One of the healthier cookies I baked (by “healthy” I mean I used less than a stick of butter to make it), they are about 90 calories each.  The only modification I made was that I didn’t have Dolce de Leche to sprinkle on top so I used a simple Smuckers caramel sauce.  You can also sprinkle nuts on top if you want.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp Mexican Cocoa (mix 3/4 tsp of cinnamon into normal cocoa to make your own if you don’t have any!)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinches of black pepper and cayenne pepper
Egg white

1) Mix dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda & salt) and set aside.
2) Mix sugar, butter, and margarine. Add cinnamon and the pinches of pepper.
3) Beat in the egg white, then slowly add flour mixture.  Don’t overdo the mixture, once it’s all incorporated take it out of the bowl, roll it into a log, and chill it for at least 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350˚.
4) Slice into quarter/half-inch thick slices, then bake 12-14 minutes, rotating the trays once.  Drizzle with Dolce de Leche or caramel.

Lemon Shortbread Squares

HEAVEN. ON. EARTH.

I don’t know what I did right with these ones (maybe it was the 2 sticks of butter…), but these shortbread squares with lemon icing are possibly the best thing I’ve ever tasted.  I’m legitimately contemplating keeping them all for myself.  Thank you, Food Network.

Lemon Shortbread Squares

2 sticks butter
1 tsp lemon zest (If you don’t know how to zest a lemon, use a fine grater to scrape away ONLY the yellow parts of the lemon rind. Rotate often so you don’t get any bitter white parts)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Lemon Icing:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
juice & zest of 1 lemon

1) Preheat oven to 300˚. Beat together butter, lemon zest, and sugar.
2) Whisk the flour and salt separately, then add slowly to the butter and sugar mixture.
3) Press into an 8x8in square pan or a 9 inch circle pan.  Score the shortbread with a fork, then let chill 30 minutes.  I don’t think there’s really a right way to score, be creative with it if you want because you can see the lines through the icing after it all settles:

4) Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees.  While it’s baking, you can put together the icing:

4a) Mix 2 cups confectioners sugar with zest and juice of 1 lemon.
(very complicated.)

5) Spread icing over the finished shortbread and add yellow sprinkles if you wish.
6) Try not to drool as you enjoy the heaven that is these bars.

I also made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and I baked and decorated sugar cookies, but most people have recipes they love for those kinds of cookies.  So I’ll just leave you with the photos of those! Happy baking!

Plz ignore the crappy icing job and admire the cuteness that is my Rudolph

Sorry raisins, you will never hold a candle to my beloved chocolate chip!

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7 thoughts on “Holiday Baking: Butter, Sugar & Love

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