Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And More Gifts

Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.
Richard Bach

The gift of my Jeep arrived at my home today. I never thought I would become enamored of a car, but after years of driving economy compacts, it's a revelation of true love. So it's the beginning of having fun out there, not just driving something for necessity. However I am glad to be finished with the whole business and look forward to putting my energies back into other things. I use a life event stress scale with some of my clients when I'm counseling them and have decided that I'm putting having a car accident, settling out with your insurance company and then going through the process of obtaining a new car into the top ten of life event stressors that are identified in the scale.

This evening I gave myself a gift of a night off and got into a pair of warm snuggly pjs I had been gifted with, watched some holiday DVDs, noshed on cookies that I had made and had some tea. I hope you're all taking the gift of giving yourself some quiet time in all the activity that the holidays can bring.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Peppermint butter cream is sandwiched between homemade chocolate cookies; then the sandwiches are rolled in crushed candy canes. Makes about 18 sandwich cookies.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)
For cookies:
Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)

Brenda Lee, "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree":

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