Yes, Christmas/Hanukkah may be over, but that doesn't mean you have to wait until next year to bake them! These cookies make great presents for Valentine's, Birthdays, Housewarmings, or "Just Because"! Nothing says "I am thinking of you" better than something homemade from your own kitchen! Now, since I did not have a hand mixer until Christmas (thanks again Aunt Beth and Uncle John!), all of these recipes can be made without a mixer! (How great is that!?) They would probably be easier to make with a mixer but they were still delicious with just a regular whisk/fork. The recipes below are the cookies I made for my family and friends as Christmas gifts. I will also include the recipe for the Black and White Cookies that I made for Matt's sister Juli's birthday. I am including a lot of unnecessary pictures I'm sure, but half the fun is in documenting the evidence! Enjoy these simple-to-make delicious heart-felt presents :)
Black and White Cake Cookies: From Cooking Light
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
3 tbsp 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1. Preheat oven to 375 Degrees
2. To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
3. Spoon applesauce into a fine sieve over a bowl, let stand 15 minutes. Discard liquid.
4. Combine drained applesauce, granulated sugar, and butter in a large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until well blended (or use your arm-strength and a whisk, but it will take longer than 2 minutes). Beat in vanilla and egg whites. Add flour mixture, beat at low speed until blended.
5. Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until set (not browned). cool on pans 2 minutes or until firm. Remove from pans, cool completely on wire racks.
6. To prepare frosting, combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp milk, and almond extract in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk until smooth. Working with 1 cookie at a time, hold cookie over bowl, and spread about 1 tsp white frosting over half of cookie (scrape excess frosting from edges). Let stand 10 minutes or until frosting is set.
7. Combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar and cocoa in a bowl. Gradually add 2 tablespoons milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Working with 1 cookie at a time, hold cookie over bowl, and spread about 1 tsp chocolate frosting over other half of cookie (scrape excess frosting from edges). Let stand 10 minutes or until frosting is set.
Cocoa Fudge: From Cooking Light
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
5 tbs. butter
7 tbs. unsweetned cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar because it didn't specify to use dark)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt, set aside (I can now set these aside in my new mixing bowls thanks to David Andes and Karen Lewis--boy, I really did get some great stuff for Xmas!). Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa and sugars. Stir in yogurt and vanilla. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist.
Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. *It helps to have a small bowl of water nearby, in case you have to use your fingers to get the dough to come off of the spoon. Wet your fingers and then you can easily slide the dough off of the spoon*
3. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans, cool on wire racks.
Yield: approx. 2 dozen
Molasses: From Cooking Light
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1. Spoon applesauce onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, spread to 1/20inch thickness. cover with additional paper towels, let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl using a rubber spatula.
2. Combine applesauce, 1 cup sugar, and butter, beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes--or 10 if you are using just your strength hah). Add molasses and egg, beat well.
3. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended. Cover and freeze 30 minutes or until firm.