Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Baking 2010

In preparation for Christmas, Dan & I decided on some cookies we wanted to make for post-Christmas Day dinner. In addition to no-bake ginger-molasses rum balls, we made more traditional chewy molasses ginger cookies, and (as a nod to our love of all things Hawaiian), mango oatmeal bars. We had originally planned on making gingerbread cookies, but wanted to make something softer (and simpler), and I found this recipe while flipping through a new (to me) cookbook I picked up at work by Lisa Zwirn: Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season. The Mango bars are from our old standby, the Best of the Best from Hawaii.

Mango Bars
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x13 baking pan. Combine flour and sugar. Blend in butter and press into prepared pan. Bake 7 minutes.

4 cups chopped mango or mango puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tspn lemon juice
1 tspn vanilla
1 tspn cinnamon
3 Tbspn cornstarch
3 Tbspn water

Combine mangoes, sugar, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan. Simmer until mangoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water and stir into mango mixture, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then pour over prepared crust.

2 cups quick oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened

Combine oats, flour and sugar. Blend in butter and sprinkle over mango mixture. Bake for 50 minutes, then cool and cut into bars. Store in refrigerator. Makes 2 dozen.

Molasses Ginger Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
2 tspn ground ginger
1 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tspn allspice
1/4 tspn freshly grated nutmeg
12 Tbspn unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling the dough
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in a medium bowl. In an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the molasses, then the egg. Slowly blend in flour mixture until fully incorporated. Place the remaining sugar in a small bowl. Pinch off clumps of dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in the sugar to coat fully. Place balls about 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake 11-12 minutes, rotating the sheet pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for two minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Both recipes were really simple and quick, and the results were mighty tasty. In the future, I hope to adapt the mango bar recipe, making it with different bases (ground up gingersnaps, graham crackers, or almonds?), and with different fruit fillings. Since I'm obsessed with the flavors in a Mai Tai, I thought an almond base with orange/pineapple/rum filling, a cherry on top and a lime icing would be delicious.

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