Cookies and Cocoa

Remember the other week how I hosted a cookie party on National Cookie Day without even knowing it was National Cookie Day?? Well I did it again! We hosted a Cookies & Cocoa holiday open house complete with hot cocoa bar on National Cocoa Day! Who knew what intuition I had!

When we were entering the holiday season I had no idea that we'd host three parties but everything worked out just fine. This holiday open house is something that I was particularly looking forward to because it was a casual "drop by if / when you can" party for our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. It was such a nice way to open our home and let everyone know how much we've enjoyed spending time with them this past year and building relationships.

The invitation was for "Cookies & Cocoa" so I knew those items needed to be well represented. The cookies were all set out on the kitchen table. There was trash, chocolate espresso snowcap cookies, brownies, saltine toffee, peanut butter blossoms, and sugar cookies. (Many thanks to my mom and a friend who each contributed a sweet!) We set out a hot cocoa bar along the stove and had cocoa warming in the crockpot. There were also a few savory options set up - veggies and dip, chips and salsa, baked brie with cranberry sauce and walnuts, and a baked crab dip. If you're interested in one of these recipes for the savory items please visit this holiday party google doc (link) which has all the party recipes from the dinner club cocktail party and the holiday open house. All the cookie recipes are below! Here are some snapshots:

Saltine toffees on upper dish; peanut butter blossoms on lower dish
Saltine Toffees as made by a friend who offered to bring them to the party
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1-2 sleeves saltines
12 oz chocolate chips (can use more)
   Preheat oven to 350F, line a 9x13 baking sheet (with sides) with aluminum foil. Spray foil and lay out saltines so they cover the whole pan 1 saltine thick.
   Melt butter and brown sugar together. Bring mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly, let mixture boil with white frothy bubbles for 3 minutes until it creates a syrupy consistency
   Once it has boiled for the appropriate amount of time, take off heat and pour over the saltines. Use a large metal spoon to spread over all the saltines while being careful to not bunch all the saltines up.
   Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes. The sugar and butter will bubble and melt into the saltines.
   Remove from oven and pour chocolate chips over the saltines. Then with a knife begin to spread the chocolate chips out evenly as they melt. It will take a minute for the chocolate chips to begin to melt so be patient while spreading them around - they will melt and will then be really easy to spread and create an even coat across the saltines and caramels. Be sure to have a flat surface when pouring the caramel over the saltines and while spreading the chocolate chips so your bars will be even and not super thick.
   Place whole cookie sheet in the freezer overnight. The next day pull aluminum foil off and break into small pieces (1"x1" or 2"x2"). Best when served out of fridge or freezer as caramel will get very sticky on your teeth when biting these bars.

Peanut butter blossoms followed the Land O Lakes recipe
   Makes 48 cookies (I must've rolled my cookies too big because I didn't come close to 48 cookies)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
48 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped - we used dark chocolate kisses
   Heat oven o 375°F.
   Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in bowl. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
   Shape dough into 1-inch balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
   Bake 8-10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Remove to cooling racks.

Chocolate espresso snowcap cookies from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tbsp milk
Confectioners' sugar, for coating
   In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour confectioners' sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.
   Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Sugar Cookies from Bake at 350 blog
3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
   Preheat oven to 350.
   Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.
   The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.
   Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (it's recommended to freeze the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
   Decorate as desired; I used the same royal icing from her blog and featured on the spiced pumpkin cutout cookies I made last month. I split the royal icing batch into thirds - left 1/3 white and dyed the remaining thirds red and green. My colors were a bit on the pastel side so I'm looking forward to mastering the correct colors in the future! I did have red sprinkles on hand that I put on the red icing to give it a bit more red!

Trash as made by my mom
1 stick of butter
1 cup of peanut butter
1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 oz box of Rice Chex
1 box of 10x powdered sugar
1 trash bag ( I used a 4 gal size garage bag)
   Melt butter, peanut butter, and chocolate chips in saucepan.
   Pour in cereal and stir until cereal is well coated. ( I tried to be as gentle as possible).
   Layer cereal and 10x sugar in trash bag.
   Shake well. Be careful. It can be messy.

And then there was a hot cocoa bar to wash down all the cookies! Despite the weather nearing 70 degrees our guests were still interested in having some cocoa and having fun at the cocoa bar.

We set up the hot cocoa warming in a crockpot. There was also coffee and a pitcher of water.

Patrick was in charge of the cocoa! Somehow I bargained with him that I would do the cookies if he would be solely responsible for the cocoa - how could he not pass up that deal?! Here's what he did:

Hot Cocoa
Warm together: 1 gallon whole milk, 3/4 cup cocoa, 3/4 cup sugar (ended up being sweeter than I liked, so I would do less), ~1 tbsp vanilla, sprinkle cinnamon, and ~1 tsp salt.
May initially warm up on the stovetop and then move to the crockpot. If you are planning to add more to the batch we would recommend keeping it on the stovetop so the milk will be heated quickly.

The hot cocoa bar was a lot of fun to set up! We had mini marshmallows, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and chocolate sprinkles as options for toppings and pirouettes and candy canes for the stirrers.

We had almost thirty in the house throughout the "floating" time that was given. What a festive way to spend the afternoon - with friends and family, cookies and cocoa!

Cheers! From our cocoa mug to yours; have a wonderful holiday!

1 comment:

  1. It was a wonderful open house and everything was delicious!