In a last ditch effort to make sure everyone around me doesn’t eat healthy and gains the requisite 80% of the weight they’ll gain throughout the year, I decided to buckle down and make some Christmas goodies. First, I made oatmeal cookies with white chocolate and pecans for a cookie party at work. Second, I made up a batch of cinnamon candy. It’s the easiest Christmas gift to make, and people love the hell out of it. Finally, and mostly for my benefit, I made hot and spicy Chex mix to take to family Christmas. Disaster would ensue.
Food is the reason for the season!
I started with the cookies because they were the one thing I HAD to make. My friend Jen suggested a recipe, and said everyone always loves it. I wavered for awhile between cute and Christmassy or yummy and delicious. I finally settled on yummy and went with Jen’s recipe.
I originally bought less white chocolate chips than was suggested by the recipe (it said 2 cups, and I only bought a cup and a half). And when it came time to put them in, I actually added even less than that (about 3/4 a cup). The plan was to melt some of the rest and drizzle on top. At Jen’s suggestion, I also did closer to half a cup of chopped pecans rather than a whole cup. I bought pecan halves and chopped them to a really small chop with my food processor. I also added about 3/4 a cup of these.
I threw them out on the pan at about a spoonful a piece. For some reason this measurement always confuses me because you can fit a lot or a very little on a spoon. I just tried to keep them similar so my cookies would be similarly sized for the party. I baked them right at 10 minutes. I waited until the edges started to just turn golden brown. Well, except one pan, which I forgot about because I was using the microwave (where my timer is). Oops. Oh well.
This is my official recipe:
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cups white chocolate chips (plus some for drizzling)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats, white chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.
- Melt some of the remaining white chocolate using oil. Melt on a very low heat, stirring at about 20 seconds at a time. Use a fork and drizzle chocolate over cookies.
Then comes the drizzling. Oh, the drizzling. Who knew it would be so hard? I attempted to melt about 1/4 a cup of chocolate chips, but when I stirred it they were really dry. I tried adding oil at my sister and mom’s suggestions. That didn’t work. Finally, I added water and that actually worked, which I’ve been told is a Christmas miracle. But who knows? I’m sure my chocolate chips weren’t real chocolate or something. But I ended up doing about 1/4 a cup of chips and about 1/2 Tbs or so of oil. Then when it started to melt I’d add several drops of food coloring (I was doing red and green) and the water.
I started to panic thinking since you’re not supposed to add water to chocolate chips (according to, well, everyone – how was I to know?) that the water and chocolate were going to separate, leaving soggy cookies. Luckily, that didn’t happen!
Honestly, if I were making these for myself, I’d leave the chips out all together, but that’s just me.
Who doesn’t love cookie dough? Yes, I ate some. No I didn’t die of salmonella.
As soon as they come out of the oven, move them to a wire rack to cool.
I drizzled one direction for red, the opposite for green. I like the messy look. I’m not sure my co-workers were as eclectic. But I think they’re cute!
Another close-up. The verdict? They were actually really good! A little salty from the butter. Nice and crunchy with just a little chewy in the middle. Next time I’d make them and leave out the chips and drizzle all together, or only do the drizzle. But that’s just me!
Next, onto the Chex mix! This recipe comes from the wife of a guy at work. I am IN LOVE with this stuff! In fact, I eat it at an unhealthy rate. It’s so not good for you, but oh so good!
Hot & Spicy Chex Mix – From the Kitchen of Angela Meyer
¼ c. stick margarine or butter
1 Tbsp whorchestershire sauce
2 ½ tsp Tabasco Red Pepper sauce
1 ¼ tsp seasoned salt
3 drops Dave Insanity Sauce
3 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups wheat Chex cereal
3 cups rice Chex cereal
1 cup pretzels or pretzel sticks
1 cup salted peanuts or mixed nuts
1 cup Cheez-It crackers – Tabasco flavor
Melt margarine in a large microwavable bowl, uncovered on high. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on high 5-6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 1 to 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.
Microwave time is approximate. If you cook too long, or do not stir frequently, the cereal will burn.
The butter and seasonings. Next you stir in the cereal, crackers, pretzels (which I left out b/c I don’t love them) and peanuts. You really have to give it a good stir.
I always set my microwave to 5 minutes and stir really well every minute or so. The Dave’s Insanity Sauce will burn your eyes a little as the mixture starts to steam. I can tell it’s done when the crackers and cereal have a nice crunch (if you taste it earlier in the process, it tastes almost soggy).
I usually line two cookie sheets with paper towels. Mostly to avoid a greasy mess on my counters. Not that this stuff is especially greasy, but that’s what I do. Enjoy! (But not the whole bag in one setting.)
Finally! Cinnamon candy! This stuff is a little inconvenient to make, and can be a little scary. So I see why people would rather have it made for them than make it themselves. However, the process is actually pretty relaxing until you get to the adding the cinnamon oil and food coloring, stirring and pouring out.
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 cookie sheet with sides (otherwise the candy will run off), sprinkled with powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon oil
1/2 tsp red food coloring
Add the sugar, syrup and water to the pan and warm at about medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. When the sugar is dissolved you can raise the temperature to medium-high heat. This is where you insert your candy thermometer (which you need for this recipe).
At this point, put your cookie sheet on trivets or potholders and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Cook it until the hard crack stage, which is just over 300 degrees. When it gets to hard crack, remove from the heat and add the oil and food coloring. The oil will steam up and the food coloring will pop, so keep your face out of the line of the steam. Stir really well. If you don’t stir well, the oil will remain at the top and the edge of your candy will be really cinnamony and the inside really sweet. You want it uniform. So stir really well, maybe for about 20 seconds. But before it starts to setup, pour it out onto the cookie sheet. The candy will be really hot and it should spread out by itself, but you can also pour it out evenly across the pan.
Let it cool for about half an hour or so until it’s cool to the touch. At that point you can lift the whole thing off the cookie sheet. Break with the non-cutting end of a butter knife. Then put in fold-over sandwich baggies and tie with Christmas colored ribbons.
Waiting for the sugar to dissolve (you really shouldn’t use a plastic spoon for this recipe, right after I took this picture I switched to a metal soup spoon).
Just as it starts to boil.
This is not too long before the hard crack stage. Remember: Remove from heat. Add the oil and food coloring, and stay out of the direct line of the pot. Then pour onto a pan and let cool.
Then the candy lifts right out, and you break it with the non-cutting end of a butter knife. It’s like magic. Or a Christmas miracle!