Look at the lovely, festive gift bag!
What magic does it contain?!
To me, basically the whole *point* of the holiday season is making cookies. Genuinely, the greatest give I can give myself is making as many cookies as possible. I love making cookies so, so much.
Furthermore, I am currently blessed to be working at a job I really like, with really really good people. Obviously no workplace is perfect, but I know that I will always have encouraging post it notes from Amy, bizarre stories from Rodney, and if I’m stressed I can go downstairs and gab by the front desk with Destiny. This is a GIFT and as such I want to reply with my own GIFT. Of COOKIES!
This has been a multi-day, lengthy process.
I began earlier in the week with a desire to use up the Reese’s Pieces my sister left in our house, I can only assume wanting her family members to have rotting teeth and massive waistlines, because the trans-fat laden bastards are just way too delicious.
So, I decided to disperse them in cookies. Specifically, these vegan m+m cookies, subbing Reese’s pieces for m+m’s. And using real butter… so they weren’t actually vegan :D My main fondness for vegan baking comes from the fact that I get eggs at the farmer’s market and they seem too delicious to dissolve into a baked good. And then I buy eggs for baked goods and feel borderline bad about that.
And of course the other reason I like to make vegan baked goods is that you can eat the dough free from fear of salmonella!
(Full disclosure: I eat the dough anyway).
These turned out a little odd looking. The color of the Reese’s pieces kind of bled out. Still, delightful to bite into a sweet peanut butter bite.
Next, I had a bunch of semolina I wasn’t going to use to make pasta again, an exercise I find tedious and depressing, frankly. Which meant I decided to use it to make COOKIES! Again I turned to a vegan recipe- this one- semolina cookies- but upon combining ingredients (full disclosure: not reading properly and adding wet to dry and forgetting to sift it) it was way too crumbly and wouldn’t hold together.
So… I added an egg. So again not vegan.
I also tried to keep with the Middle Eastern vibe of semolina cookies by topping them with, rather than chocolate chips, preserved cherries.
I found them a bit homely but WOW- kind of a sleeper hit for me! I really enjoyed their not-too-sweet, intriguingly nutty taste, and also loved the crumbly, gritty texture.
We had a glut of hot chocolate (due to my boyfriend’s roommate leaving it behind, hahaha) and I love Trader Joe’s and I love fair trade… but the organic fair trade cocoa tastes super weird in cocoa form.
And then, lucky me, I saw this hot chocolate cookies and said to myself, “Self, those sound awesome!”
I had lots of fun playing with the incredddddddddddibly thick and stiff dough. Seriously, it defied the laws of gravity! Love me some butter.
And how PRECIOUS do they look with the marshmallows dotted on top? (I didn’t bother with the glaze; they already looked so cute!)
These for me win most good looking cookie. Everyone loves chocolate, and the marshmallow is just so precious! Though I wish to high heaven I had a kitchen blowtorch to brulee it!
I’ve been seeing recipes with coconut all over the place and had some of the shredded stuff in my freezer. I also had some very ripe bananas on my counter, so banana coconut cookies were an obvious choice.
AMAZING aroma, beautiful golden color.
These may be the most wholesome of the cookies? Since they’re vegan, with healthy fats rather than butter (the only vegan cookies I actually left vegan :D); contain whole grains in the form of oats; real fruit; and apparently the kind of saturated fat in coconut is good for ya now.
They are yummy :D That is what is important.
And finally, to use up another unhealthy sister purchase and add a pop of red and white Christmas colors, I made white chocolate cranberry cookies.
The only ones I could capture in natural light! (The semolina, hot cocoa, and banana-coconut were all made on a single night! I had the cookie baking itch! And the oven was already on…)
Because I could take these in natural light, I took many.
This recipe was touted as “diabetic friendly” at the website. I’m not really sure what that entails. I have two coworkers who are diabetic, and I was feeling iffy about giving them sugary desserts. So I asked one of them and she was like “Oh, whatever, give us real cookies.”
So I, er, did. Anyone out there have any experience baking for people who are diabetic? Any tips?
So there you have it. More than 140 cookies for 20 coworkers in less than one week.
And there you have it! A variety of flavors and colors to produce one (if I do say so myself) extremely impressive gift bag.
Everyone got at least one of each kind of cookie. The hot chocolate cookies recipe made enough for everyone to get two. The other recipes made more than twenty (I made TWENTY BAGS, btw) but less than forty, so everyone got an additional SURPRISE COOKIE! This person got another banana coconut (lucky person :D)
Holiday Cookie Baking Tip #1:
Don’t bother with fancy packaging. I got these super cute poinsettia bags at the dollar store. 20 cost me $1.59. Sweet!
Also, to bring all twenty bags to work, just buy some boots! Then take the boots out of their box! Then put the cookie bags in it!
I’m actually freezing these over the weekend and will take them to work that way. Keeps the flavors fresh!
Holiday baking Tip #2:
Ovens are energy hogs. They take forever to preheat and cool down, wasting heat (and energy) in the process. And they’re huge and you can only put two trays at a time in them. And to make a single batch of cookies… it just doesn’t sit right with me.
SO while your oven is already on have yourself a roasting bonanza! I made roasted root vegetables with chermoula. Simply marvy!
Holiday Baking Tip #3:
If, like me, you eat a great deal of cookie dough while baking cookies one morning, simply enjoy a healthy, veggie-rich lunch!
First a spicy pumpkin soup (which I’ll blog about soon)
Followed by, you know those tuna salad kits they sell? The mini can of tuna with the crackers and mini packets of mayo and relish? I made my own (better, healthier) version!
My mom had already opened a can of tuna. She took half, Sheila the cat took the tuna juice, and I took the other half.
Then I sliced up some farmer’s market cucumber and got out some crackers and voila! Tuna salad kit!
We got these crackers in a Costco megapack and I am a huge fan:
Their nutritional information is totally reasonable for crackers:
As is their ingredient list. Yeah, a little lengthy, but it’s mostly pronounceable things.
Some wholesomeness after all those cookies! Unpictured: I also took a vitamin :D