MAGIC COOKIE BUTTER BARS

MAGIC COOKIE BUTTER BARS
Years ago one of my VERY favorite treats were Eagle Brand 7 Layer bars A.K.A. as Magic Cookie Bars with sweetened condensed milk, BUT, they were so heavy and calorie packed. This recipe is a WONDERFUL substitute for that recipe and the bars are still moist and tender AND they taste amazingly similar – kind of like a loaded Blondie that strives to be overindulgent! This recipe also makes smaller portion which is great for just 2 people

BARS
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
2 teaspoons QUALITY cinnamon (I use Red Ape)
Heaping 1/3 cup smooth Cookie Butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted coconut pieces

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Melt 1/2 cup butter and allow to cool slightly.
  • Add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, whisking until smooth.
  • Add the heaping Cookie Butter, and stir to blend.
  • Add the flour and salt, stirring until just combined DO NOT OVER MIX!!!! – these are like brownies and overtaxing will make them tough.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips, raisins and coconut.
  • Set pan aside while you prepare the streusel.

STREUSEL
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup whole rolled old-fashioned oats DO NOT USE quick or instant oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-2 teaspoonS cinnamon, to taste
2 tablespoons Cookie Butter, melted for final drizzle after baking
2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips

  • Using the same bowl you made the batter in add all the streusel ingredients except the 2 tablespoons cookie butter and work the mixture with a spoon, a pastry cutter, or your hands until small pebbles form.
  • Sprinkle streusel evenly over top.
  • Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly; and the edges are set and have pulled away slightly from sides of pan. Test with a toothpick. If it comes out mostly clean, you’re good to go. EVERY oven is different so start checking these at the 30 minute mark.
  • After pulling pan from the oven, heat 2 tablespoons of Cookie Butter and 2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips in the microwave to melt, about 15 seconds.
  • Immediately and evenly drizzle Chocolate Cookie Butter over the top of bars.
  • Allow pan to cool for at least 30 minutes cutting.
  • Lift out foil and place on cutting board.
  • Slice and serve.
  • Store bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

ORIGINAL MAGIC COOKIE BARS
“This bar cookie is an old fashioned favorite. Chocolate chips, nuts and coconut are set in a caramelized layer on top of a graham cracker crust.” – Eagle brand

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs OR ginger snap cookie crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

  • Heat oven to 350° (325° for glass dish).
  • Coat 13×9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  • Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan.
  • Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
  • Layer evenly with chocolate chips, raisins, nuts and coconut. Press down firmly.
  • Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Cool.
  • Cut into bars.
  • Store covered at room temperature.

NOTES/VARIATIONS:

  • 7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars: Substitute 1 cup (6-ounces) butterscotch flavored chips* for 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and proceed as directed above.
  • Peanut butter flavored chips or white chocolate chips may be substituted for butterscotch flavored chips.
  • Magic Peanut Cookie Bars: Substitute 2 cups (about 3/4 pound) chocolate-covered peanuts for semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped nuts.
  • Magic Rainbow Cookie Bars: Substitute 2 cups plain candy-coated chocolate candies for semi-sweet chocolate chips.

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)

  • In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
  • Remove from heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
  • Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
  • Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
  • Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
  • Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
  • Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CREME-DE-MENTHE FILLING
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
Milk (optional)

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
  • Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat in creme-de-menthe.
  • Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces

  • In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.

NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.

PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup QUALITY honey
1 cup JIF creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups rice krispies
Almond Bark (optional)
Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey, peanut butter and vanilla in heavy saucepan, stirring constantly until mixture begins to boil.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add rice krispies.
  • Using gloved hands lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray roll into small balls and place on wax paper.
  • Let cool completely.
  • You can eat them as soon as they cool or decorate them if you choose.
  • Melt almond bark and dip each ball in chocolate before placing on wax paper.
  • Immediately decorate as the almond bark dries very quickly.

NOTE:

  • This recipe is COMPLETELY versatile – change out the cereal for ANY cereal of your choice, cheerios, corn flakes, chex etc… AND/OR you can change out the peanut butter for another nut butter, almond butter, cashew butter…
  • Sprinkles can be anything of your choosing.  I also like using mini chocolate chips and finely chopped honey roasted peanuts.

SALTED PUMPKIN CARAMELS

I was recently hunting for a gift idea for a friend and thought she might like a digital candy thermometer (she’s a baker and makes the most wonderful cupcakes). So I sent her a quick text to start the conversation. It went like this:

ME: Do you have a candy thermometer I could borrow?
H: No I don’t… if a recipe requires me to use a thermometer, I find another recipe 😀
ME: LMBO 😀 😀 😀 😀 That’s great unless you’re actually making something that needs to be a specific temperature to set up.
H: You’re more adventurous!… if it requires a certain spice or ingredient, I just won’t make it.

LOL I had to come up with another idea 😀
SALTED PUMPKIN CARAMELS
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
FLAKY Sea Salt
finely Chopped nuts (optional)

  • Line 9 x 9 inch pan with foil.
  • Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a 3 quart pan melt butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in sugar, pumpkin pie spice, allspice and cinnamon until well blended.
  • Whisk in corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and pumpkin.
  • Attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pan and get ready to stir for quite awhile.
  • Stir constantly until you reach 248 degrees a.k.a. firm ball stage.
  • Remove from heat and quickly add nuts if your using them.
  • Pour into prepared pan.
  • Immediately sprinkle with salt.
  • Let stand 2 hours or until firm.
  • Use the foil to lift the caramels from the pan.
  • Using a BUTTERED knife cut into 3/4 inch squares.
  • Wrap in individual non-stick foil or waxed paper and twist ends.

NOTES:  If you want a bit of a change up stir in some chopped honey roasted peanuts or pecans at the last minute before poring into cooling pan.

BRIGADEIROS

I found this recipe over at Rebecca’s blog and was intrigued so I did a little history.

The Brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian dessert created in the 1940’s.  It is made of condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder and then rolled in chocolate sprinkles. While it is uncertain of when and where the recipe was actually created, there is some history that the name originated in 1945 after WWII.  Eduardo Gomes, whose military ran was Brigadier. He was campaigning for president in Brazil and his slogan was “Vote for the Brigadier who is handsome and single!”

This slogan gave him enormous success especially among women. Many of his most devoted voters decided to try and promote his campaign by organizing fundraiser parties to give him more visibility. Instead of traditional merchandising it was decided to sell candy. But, there was a significant problem everywhere – a lack of fresh milk and sugar in this post war era. It was decided to use condensed milk and mix it with butter and chocolate.

This new creation, specifically these candies were come to be known as “The candy of the Brigadeiro” in his honor. While the candy was a success, the candidate was not.  The name was then shortened to BRIGADEIROS in the 1950’s.

BRIGADEIROS
1 can Nestle’s La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
Candy Quick, optional
Sprinkles

  • Put all ingredients in a pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until you can see the bottom of the pan between swipes across middle (about 15 to 20 minutes); continue to cook until almost solid (about another 5 minutes).
  • Pour mixture into buttered plates to cool.
  • Using buttered hands, pull away pieces of the candy and roll into balls.
  • Roll each ball in candy sprinkles of choice to complete.

NOTES:

  • I also coated each one in candy quick to give it a hard shell before decorating.
  • Rebecca’s recipe stated that Nestle’s La Lechera sweetened condensed milk was the brand to use for best results, but out of curiosity I tried the La Lechera AND Eagle brand with very little difference in FLAVOR ONLYTexture wise, Nestle’s La Lechera was DEFINITELY the best though!
  • You can also use Nesquik chocolate or strawberry flavored drink mixes, peanut butter powder or espresso powder for different flavors… There really appears to be lots of ways to flavor and decorate Brigadeiros!   For one version I added a couple drops of peppermint extract.  Our favorite version trades 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder for peanut butter powder.

SALTED CARAMEL SNICKERDOODLES

I’ve been weighing ingredients more lately. I guess I’ve been watching too many baking shows that refer to it all being a science – Justin Warner, Damaris Phillips and Christina Tosi! But, I am much happier with most recipes since I’ve begun doing that.
SALTED CARAMEL SNICKERDOODLES adapted from Erin Clarkson

SALTED CARAMEL
2 cups (400 grams) fine granualted sugar
2 teaspoons (6 grams) Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

  • Line a half sheet pan with a silicone mat or lightly grease with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium sauce pan heat sugar over medium heat, stirring regularly until sugar dissolves. The sugar will clump – don’t worry, it is supposed to!  Keep stirring until sugar completely dissolves and turns amber. Continue stirring until completely smooth.  As soon as it begins to smoke, remove from heat and pour into prepared pan.
  • IMMEDIATELY sprinkle with the sea salt
  • COOL COMPLETELY!
  • When completely cool, break apart into large chunks.

COOKIES
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 grams) fine granulated sugar
3/4 cup (150 grams) salted caramel dust (see below)
1/4 cup (55 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 LARGE egg (50 grams)
1 teaspoon (4 grams) PURE vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups (350 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (1.5 grams) sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) QUALITY ground cinnamon

  • Weigh out 200 grams of the salted caramel chunks.
  • Place in a ziploc bag and break with a rolling pin until you have small semi-uniform size pieces. Set aside.
  • Place remaining salted caramel chunks into food processor and pulse until you have a finely ground dust. Measure out 150 grams (3/4 cup) of the dust and set aside. Add any remaining dust to your Rolling Sugar Bowl.
  • In a stand mixer combine butter sugar, caramel dust and brown sugar at high speed until creamy.
  • Add egg and vanilla beating until combined.
  • Sift together the flour baking soda and sea salt.
  • Reduce mixer speed and add flour mixture gradually beating JUST until combined.
  • Stir in the caramel chunk pieces until evenly distributed.

ROLLING SUGAR
1/4 cup (50 grams) fine granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (2 grams) pumpkin pie spice
Leftover Caramel Dust

  • In a small bowl combine the sugar, pumpkin pie spice and leftover caramel dust until well blended.
  • Roll dough into ping pong sized balls.
  • Roll each ball in the sugar mixture before placing on baking tray 2 inches apart.
  • Place tray of cookies in freezer 10 minutes before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes until golden and puffy.
  • IMMEDIATELY sprinkle with sea salt.
  • COOL COMPLETELY on pan before transferring to cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container to prevent cookies from becoming sticky and stuck together.

NOTES:

  • If you are going to freeze dough, roll into balls first and freeze solid on a sheet pan before placing them in a freezer bag.
  • Make sure to have everything in place and ready before beginning the salted caramel. This process happens quickly and cannot be slowed down. It will burn easily.

PEANUT BUTTER CUP BROWNIES

I found this recipe on Facebook via Chasity Blankenship-Reed. I have changed it a little bit.  YUMMY!

PEANUT BUTTER CUP BROWNIES – yields 1 dozen muffin size brownies

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon water
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (divided 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk chocolate chips (divided 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup KRAFT caramel bits
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • 
In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl combine sugar, softened butter, and water.
  • Microwave on high for about 45 seconds or until butter is melted.
  • Stir in 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted.
  • Stir in egg and vanilla extract, mix well.
  • Add flour and baking soda, stirring until combined. Allow the batter to cool to room temperature (it won’t take very long).

 

  • Then, stir in 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into center comes out slightly wet.
  • After brownies are out of the oven, wait for centers to fall. This will happen upon cooling. If it doesn’t happen then tap the centers with the back of a teaspoon to make a hole for the peanut butter.

 

  • Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds then stir.
  • While brownies are still warm spoon about a tablespoon full of peanut butter into the center of each brownie.
  • Top with remaining 1/3 cup of milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips and caramels bits.
  • Cool completely in pan.
  • Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat the brownies just pop ‘em in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

COCOA MERINGUE KISSES

These will soften as time goes on so they are the best served FRESH for crisp bites.

COCOA MERINGUE KISSES
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
PINCH of salt
2 LARGE egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Line heavy baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Sift together 1/3 cup of the sugar, cocoa and salt into a small mixing bowl.
  • Beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar in a chilled metal bowl with chilled beaters until soft peaks begin to form.
  • Add remaining sugar a tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.
  • Add cocoa mixture a tablespoon at a time, beating until meringue is stiff and glossy.
  • Drop or pipe meringue onto parchment paper 1 inch apart.
  • Bake 25 minutes for softer, chewy cookies. OR Bake 40 minutes for drier, crisper cookies.
  • Cool completely.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

NOTES:

  • For a fun little surprise you can press a single peanut butter, butterscoth or chocolate chip into the center of each meringue before baking.
  • To make these plain just omit the cocoa.

ALTERNATE BAKING METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place cookie sheets in oven.
  • Turn off oven and leave overnight.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.
  • Enjoy.

COCOA FUDGE BROWNIES

COCOA FUDGE BROWNIES
These brownies are crisp on top, have a bottom that holds together and are gooey and chewy in the center. They are also super versatile. Add walnuts, heath bar pieces, peanut butter chips or a ribbon of caramel depending on your flavor needs at the moment.

2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 LARGE eggs, at room temperature
3 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup QUALITY unsweetened cocoa powder
7-8 ounces roughly chopped chocolate (I use Bakers)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray an 9×9 or 8×10 baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the melted butter, oil and sugar.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla; beating another minute until light in color.
  • In another bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined DO NOT OVER BEAT – this will make them tough if you do and DO NOT OVER BEAT your batter especially after the flour and cocoa powder are added. Doing so creates air pockets in the batter which will give you cake-like textured brownies.
  • Fold in 75% of the chocolate pieces and walnuts.
  • Pour batter into your prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly, and top with remaining chocolate pieces.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). When testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge brownies.
  • Cool for 10 minutes and then carefully remove them from pan.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.

NOTES:

  • Store at room temperature for 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. These brownies can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Changing your chocolate flavor can alter your flavors.

SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE NUT BARS

SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE NUT BARS – the ultimate cookie bar for those that LOVE both sweet and salty mixed together! adapted (but not by much!) from Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: 16 cookie bars                Prep:15 minutes
Cook:30 minutes                      Total:45 minutes

2 1/8 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips**
1/2 cup Heath Bar Toffee Bits
10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons heavy cream or buttermilk
Fleur de sel (Sea salt), for sprinkling over caramel and bars

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Grease a 12×5 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, mix together the melted butter and sugars on medium speed until combined.
  • Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips, toffee bits and walnuts.
  • In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream.
  • Microwave on high until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes.
  • Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  • Pour the hot caramel over the dough cookie dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about ½ inch around the border.
  • Sprinkle the caramel with sea salt.
  • Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread the dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered.
  • Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan.
  • Place the pan on a wire rack and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set.
  • Cut into squares and serve.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

NOTE: ** I like to use  mixture of peanut butter and milk chocolate chips.

MOLASSES CRINKLES

Normally I leave these plain, but just for the holiday we added a little cheery icing and sprinkles.
MOLASSES CRINKLES
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
turbinado sugar for dipping

  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
  • Cream butter, add sugar gradually until consistently smooth.
  • Blend in beaten egg and molasses.
  • Gradually stir flour mixture into creamed mixture.
  • Chill dough 1 hour or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Shape dough into small balls and dip tops in turbinado sugar.
  • Place cookies on WELL greased cookie sheet or silicone mat. DO NOT FLATTEN.
  • Bake 7-9 minutes.
  • Let cool 2 minutes before moving to cooling rack.

LEBKUCHEN aka GINGER COOKIES

Do you have a recipe that calls for candied citron? Don’t know what it is? Well, it’s not candied lemon or grapefruit peel. Citron is an actual semitropical fruit that’s similar to a lemon but with a thicker skin. To make candied citron, the citron is blanched in water, boiled in sugar syrup, and dried. It lends a mild floral note to fruitcakes and other such confections. While I love candied citron know that you have other options. Each shines in a different way, but they can pretty much be used interchangeably in most recipes, so if you happen to have one kind on hand, try that in your recipe.

Photography by: Chelsea Cavanaugh

ORANGE SLICES (Top Left) – They’re great as a decorative flourish on top of cupcakes.
CITRON PEEL (Top Right) – Though the pulp is sour, the candied peel is perfect for baking into stollen or stirring into granola.
LEMON RIND (Middle Left) – Finely chop it and mix into muffins and pancakes for a bright flavor.
ORANGE PEEL (Middle Right) – Dip pieces in dark chocolate and serve as an after-dinner treat.
CITRON SLICES (Bottom Left) – Serve thin slices as part of a holiday cheese plate.
CLEMENTINE SLICES (Bottom Right) – You can also garnish cocktails with these.

Candied citrus is available at specialty stores (especially around the holidays) and online at stores like junetaylorjams.com, but you can also easily make your own at home. Either way, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a month.

LEBKUCHEN
Traditional Lebkuchen German Christmas cookies are a form of gingerbread descended from medieval times and taste spicy and nutty in flavor. They were typically a combination of spices, honey, and dried bread crumbs. They are often cut into “sugar” cookie shapes and ornately decorated. I made a super “simple” version this year for hubby since I am unable to make neighbor plates and do my normal holiday baking.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes.
  • Cook time: 10-12 minutes.
  • Makes 12 servings.

COOKIES
½ cup honey
½ cup molasses
¾ cup brown sugar
1 LARGE egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2¾ cup flour, plus flour for dusting
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice & nutmeg
⅓ cup candied citron, diced (I prefer candied ginger)
⅓ cup hazelnuts, finely chopped

ICING
1 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

GARNISH
Sliced almonds
Candied citron or ginger
Melted chocolate

  • In a medium saucepan, bring honey and molasses to a boil.
  • Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and all spices, and stir in molasses mix, citron and hazelnuts. Cover; chill overnight.

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • On a floured, hard surface roll out a small amount of chilled dough to ¼-inch thick. If dough is sticky, use more flour.
  • Cut dough in 2-inch rounds or shapes; transfer to prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make icing by heating sugar and liquids in a small saucepan (do not boil).
  • Remove from heat; stir in confectioners’ sugar. If icing crystallizes, reheat and add a touch of water or milk.
  • Transfer cookies to rack and while still hot, brush with icing and decorate with almonds, citron, ginger or sprinkles; or, let cool completely and drizzle with melted chocolate.
  • Store in sealed container.