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. :)
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.
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.
I also baked Nancy’s One-Bowl Mocha-White Chocolate Chip Cookies and they were delightful.
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.
Simply Sensational Cookies
Happy Baking! xo Lora