Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Orange Chocolate Snowballs and the Cookie Craze

It's been a while since my last post and for good reason. Last week was spent baking around 1000 cookies for my dearest friends' and family's holiday gifts that I sent out at the end of last week. This year it took me ages to come up with the quartet of goodies I'd be sending, but finally it took shape and I made these four items:
1. Chocolate Mint Buttons - chocolate sugar cookies infused with mint, frosted with mint cookie icing, decorated in holiday colors.
2. Cranberry Orange White Chocolate Biscotti - a hit last year, I thought my friends would appreciate it popping up in their gift baskets again this year.
3. Holiday Marshmallows - homemade vanilla marshmallows in a red and white swirl for the season.
4. Molasses Spice Cookies - delicious, chewy, spicy cookies deepened in flavor with molasses and rolled in sugar.
Riding the cookie train, on Saturday evening I had a small cookie swap with a couple of friends. It was fun, the treats were delicious. I made two treats to partake in the swap - White Chocolate Mocha Cake Balls and Cinnamon Roll Cookies. I initially wanted my cake balls to taste like tiramisu, but the end product tasted more like a white chocolate mocha. These recipes will be posted as soon as I come up for air.
Something in the air gets us in a cookie mood come Christmastime. I can't help by run to my KitchenAid and start mixing up dough at least once a day to try a new recipe or bring back a tried and true holiday favorite.

This year was no different, because after a week full of baking cookies, I'd have thought I'd be sick of them by now, but not yet. Yesterday, I made another cookie - a delicious, delicate orange-scented nutty snowball studded with chocolate chips.

If you think snowball cookies are a bit on the bland or boring side, try this recipe. The orange and nuts and chips make for a burst of flavor in its one bite. I used walnuts and pecans, but you can use any combinations of toasted nuts, citrus zest, and chips that you desire.

Tossed in confectioners' sugar while still warm, they become little snow-covered gems of delight for the season.

Orange Chocolate Snowballs
(Recipe by Leelabean)

2 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 c confectioners' sugar, divided
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
3/4 c toasted nuts (I used walnuts & pecans)
3/4 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a mini-food processor, grind up the nuts until they resemble coarse meal. Set this aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, ground nuts, baking powder, and salt and whisk together. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream 1 1/2 c confectioners' sugar and butter until light and fluffy - about 2 minutes. Then add the egg, vanilla, and zest of an orange. Blend well. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Wrap this dough in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge until cold and firm throughout (at least a couple of hours). This dough can be made up to 2 days ahead. When you are ready to bake, heat your oven to 375*F. Pinch off pieces of dough that are the size of about 2 teaspoons and roll into little balls. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 1/2" apart from each other. Bake them in the preheated oven for around 8 minutes. It could be a minute or two more or less depending on your own stove. They will turn the slightest light brown on the bottoms when they are ready. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, put in the reserved 1 c confectioners' sugar. In groups of 5 or so, toss the cookies in the confectioners' sugar until well coated and place back on the cookie sheet to fully cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week. Make sure to put some of these out on a plate for Santa on Christmas Eve. :-)

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