Right around this time during the holidays I start thinking about gifts for those friends and acquaintances who have been particularly nice to me or my family during the year. Just like social invitations, kindnesses and favors should be acknowledged or reciprocated in one way or another and what better time to do it than Christmastime. Whether you send a gift or a personal handwritten card, the idea is to say thank you to a very special person in a very special way.
This year, unlike others, I have my share of people who have been most generous and kind with their friendship or with their time. There is no way I can repay what each has done for me, monetarily or otherwise, but there is something I know all of them will enjoy and that is a batch of homemade cookies! Let's face it, home made anything is the new luxury for people who do not cook and that is about 90% of the population these days. If you want to put it in the context of food, home made goodies may just be the new caviar!
This weekend is the big bake off and both my daughter and I will be busy baking and packing. A couple of our friends are out of town so boxes will have to be carefully packed to ensure the cookies arrive in one piece. We have learned from experience that some cookies travel better than others so selecting the right recipe is important. Gingerbread men are always the most popular but, unfortunately, they have been known to arrive with their heads or legs cut off and will have to stay local. On the other hand, bars and clusters make it alright and will definitely be included in the final selection. So does my lemon pound cake and cocktail cheese biscuits.
This recipe from King Arthur has made the finals and is perfect for packing and mailing. It combines mint and chocolate in a dense, rich bar, made festive by a layer of white icing offset by a final drizzle of dark, bitter chocolate. What more could you ask for?
So, if you are looking for something special to give to a friend or to the person who has everything in your Christmas list homemade cookies may be your best bet!
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter or margarine
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts or chopped pecans, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract or peppermint oil*
- 2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract or peppermint oil*
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes
- *Peppermint oils or extracts may vary in strength; add them judiciously, tasting as you go.