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Brandy Balls and a Simply Sensational Cookies Cookbook Giveaway!

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There is nothing better than the scent of homemade cookies baking this time of year. The scents of wonderful cookies tempt us as we wait for our first warm cookie samples.


I remember baking cookies with my mom and brother as a little girl at Christmas time. I’ve been creating the same cookie baking memories these years with my two kids. I oftentimes wonder why I don’t bake more cookies all year round.  :)
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I finally found a cookie cookbook that inspires me to not just bake during the holiday season. Simply Sensational Cookies, a new cookbook by my friend and cookbook author, Nancy Baggett, is a perfect book to dive into this time of year.  Beautifully photographed by Diane Cu and Todd Porter, I was really looking forward to receiving my copy to jump start my holiday cookie baking.  Simply Sensational Cookies was recnetly named one of the Top 10 holiday cookbooks of 2012 by NPR.

On the to the fun part! Nancy has offered one lucky reader their own copy of Simply Sensational Cookies! To participate in the giveaway, simply leave a comment telling us what your favorite holiday cookie is! One winner will be chosen with random.org on Friday, January 4, 2013.
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If you are crazy for cookie baking like I am, you need this book for your cookbook collection!  Filled with over 200 wonderful recipes, some that take little baking expertise (one-bowl baking), and some with surprising flavors. I love that Nancy offers recipes for making Cookies-In-Jars Mixes…so perfect for the holiday gift season.

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I also baked Nancy’s One-Bowl Mocha-White Chocolate Chip Cookies and they were delightful.

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Since it was holiday time, I had to try Nancy’s Chocolate-Brandy Balls. They combine crushed vanilla wafers and walnuts, and let’s not forget the best part, brandy! I happened to have a box of Sesame Street Vanilla Cookies in my cabinet and they were just perfect for the recipe. I used the exact amount of brandy that she suggested for the portion that was for adults. For the kids, I subsitited the brandy with orange juice. Let’s just say that it was difficult to round up enough to use as gifts as I had intended. They were delicious!
Chocolate Brandy Balls

Ingredients:
2 cups coarsely crushed or broken-up vanilla wafers
1 2/3 cups chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons unsweetened natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate morsels
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
3 tablespoons good-quality brandy (add more according to your taste)

Directions:
Line a tray or rimmed baking sheet with wax paper or baking parchment paper. 

In a food processor, process the wafers, walnuts, cocoa powder, and orange zest (if using) until finely ground. 
Remove a generous 1/3 cup; reserve in a shallow bowl for garnish. Add the chocolate morsels and powdered sugar to the processor; process until the chocolate is finely chopped.

With the motor running, add the corn syrup and brandy through the feed tube, continuing to process until the ingredients are just thoroughly blended. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes to firm up slightly.

Turn out the mixture onto a greased sheet of baking parchment. Shape the portions of the mixture using greased hands into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the reserved crumb mixture until coated all over. Space, slightly separated, on the tray. Let the cookies mellow, covered, at least overnight before serving.

Makes about twenty-five 1-inch cookies

Storage: Store these, airtight and at room temperature, for 2 or 4 days; refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. They can be frozen, airtight, for up to 1 month.

Nancy Baggett
Simply Sensational Cookies


Happy Baking! xo Lora


46 comments

  1. These look wonderful and, yes, I need this book! I have learned a lot from Nancy Bagett's bread book, Kneadlessly Simple, and would love to add her cookie book to my kitchen.

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    1. Looks delicious! Hope to have a chance to make it!

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  2. These look delicious! What a way to end the year! :-)

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  3. What delicious looking cookies. Funny you mention baking cookies all year round...my 5 year old son last night asked if we could bake more together so he could learn (oh to pass on the joy of baking).
    I think my favorite cookie at holiday time is a coconut macaroon dipped in chocolate.
    I have my fingers crossed that I will be the lucky winner!

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  4. Beautiful & Crunchy :) Nice giveaway!!! My favorite cookie at holiday are Chocolate Chip Cookies and Meringue Cookies :) I would love this book an wish to get luck for this :)

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  5. I love this brandy balls, I love double chocolate chip cookies

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  6. Those cookies look so delicious! My favourite cookie? That would be, very not original, a chocolate chip bar. So delicious. But since the children and I love to try out new cookies (if it was up to them we would be making cookies every singe day) I would love to get some inspiration from that gorgeous looking book!

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  7. thank you for this fun giveaway! My favorite cookie is just plain old frosted ones with decorations--brings out the kid in me!! anne

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  8. What a great cookie recipe to end the year! I was thumbing through the book last time I was at Barnes&Noble and put it on my wish list. Would love to win it!
    My favorite cookie is anything with peppermint and chocolate

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  9. They look sensational! Those white chocolate chip cookies are great too.

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  10. We love anything with nuts! Thanks, Lora, for this great giveaway.

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  11. I love cookies, but I try hard not to bake them that much because I'm the one who eats them all since everyone else goes to school and work and I'm left with them staring at me!What a nice giveaway Lora. The brandy balls look wonderful too.

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  12. Great cookie to celebrate the end of the year! I have a copy of Nancy's latest cookie book and I've already made a few recipes that were sensational;-)

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  13. My favorite holiday cookie is the peanut butter blossoms! I always have to make some kind of version every Christmas. This cookbook looks like it has alot of yummy cookies in it.

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  14. Any cookie that evokes memories is fine by me. After all, isn't Christmas about the "memories?"

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  15. Any cookie that evokes memories is fine by me. After all, isn't Christmas about the "memories?"

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  16. My favorite is Jam Thumbprints.

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  17. Hard to pick a favorite, but one of mine is chocolate espresso chews.

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  18. That cookbook looks wonderful! My favorite Christmas Cookie is one my mother-in-law made but no recipe so I created one. It's basically a thumbprint cookie with a cooked filling of raisins, dates, walnuts (plus a secret ingredient). It's frosted with a butter cream frosting and sprinkled with coconut. We just love it and I'm glad I can make it in her memory. We'll always think of her with every delicious bite.

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  19. These look so perfect for the holidays, Lora! You can never go wrong with a little brandy :).

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  21. These cookies look amazing! I have to make them! Thank you! My favorite cookies always involve jam.

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  22. This cookies really sounds easy to make. I wish I'm the lucky one :) I like rich buttery kind of cookies!

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  23. For decorating, my favorite is sugar cookie cutouts. For eating, brandy snaps!

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  24. I have to get this book! The brandy balls look incredible, but I'm really wanting a dozen of the mocha white chocolate chip cookies! You certainly did her cookies proud! Gorgeous job and photos!

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  25. I don't think you can go wrong with peanut butter blossoms!

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  26. Chocolate chip date balls. My grandmother made them for my grandfather when he was stationed in the Army.

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  27. I would love to have Nancy Bagett's cookies cookbook added to my collection. Maybe she will have some new Snickerdoodle cookie recipes in there, I love these during the holidays.
    cjbrick@ymail.com

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  28. I just got my copy in the mail and what a simply stupendous book! It is gorgeous but it is filled with so many fabulous cookie recipes you can't imagine how many I already have bookmarked to bake! You and Gwen both did these Brandy Balls and they look marvelous! I want them now!

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  29. You asked one tough question!! Favorite Holiday Cookie? Hmmmm, this is really, really tough! I have my everyday favorites, but holiday? I guess I would pick Cranberry Orange with White Chocolate Chips!!

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  30. My favorite cookie would have to be a Russian Tea Cake.

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  31. These cookies look simply divine and so loving that cookbook! My favorite cookie is a mexican wedding cake or some call it a russian tea cake or I have heard it called a snowball cookie. Love them!!

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  32. These brandy balls looks wonderful - great memories to have with your kids, baking in the kitchen. I will never forget those from!
    My favorite holiday cookie - maybe a frosted sugar cookie

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  33. Your cookies look fabulous and I would love to win this book! One of my favorite holiday cookies are a chocolate chip almond cookie that my mom makes!

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  34. My favorite holiday cookie right now is white chocolate cranberry shortbread

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  35. Sadly I am the worlds worst cookie baker...but I do love these brandy balls :)

    I hope you and family enjoyed a wonderful holiday!

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  36. Lemon sugar cookies are my favourite all year 'round. :)

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  37. my favorite holiday cookie is sugar cookie with a cup of hot green tea. the Mocha White Chip cookie looks devine

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  38. Christmas just isn't Christmas without some shortbread - not strictly a cookie, but you can always make them in individual portions/ I'd rather go for the big one and eat the whole thing anyway :-)

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  39. I'm crazy for cookies and my favourite xmas ones are Lebkuchen: ginger, nuts, cardamom, and cloves, all them represent with chocolate, obviously, the magic scent of Xmas.

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  40. I just recently gone crazy for cookies! I've also decided that I should bake more cookies during the year! This cookbook looks simply beautiful! I want my copy!!!! Exclamation point! I love Diane Cu and Todd Porter's work as well :) Wishing to win this one...

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  41. Ginger cookies are my favorite holiday cookies although they are good anytime of the year!

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  42. These brandy balls look fantastic! My favorite holiday cookie is definitely the snowdrop/snowball/Mexican Wedding Cake/cookie that goes by a bazillion names.

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  43. Lora, thank you, thank you for featuring my recipes and book. I am so appreciative, and also thrilled at how tasty the cookies look.

    Hope you had a wonderful holiday and have a fabulous 2013.

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  44. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Lora. Wishing you an awesome 2013. :)

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