I was at Christa's house last night because she invited me over to bake cookies, and I got an extra surprise because Bryn was in town for a visit too. Rayne was working a night shift, so all of us ladies sat around the kitchen chatting and laughing while the snow fell outside and carols played from the stereo in the family room. It was pretty magical. You should have seen the house! It's a pale yellow Victorian with a wrap-around veranda, and twinkling with swags of white Christmas lights. With the light snowfall we got yesterday, the place looked like something out of a Christmas card. Christa's got three trees done up, one decorated entirely with baseball ornaments, and the inside smells like fresh cut cedar boughs she took from her yard and made into a garland on her banister. Her border collie-cross Jake was running around with his reindeer antlers on, and loving all the attention we gave him.
While we baked we got to talking about Bryn's story (Cover of Darkness), which is coming out the end of February. I don't want to give any spoilers away, but Bryn seems pretty happy with it so I was tickled pink. But I have to tell you, she's not much of a cook. Or a baker, for that matter (don't you dare tell her I said that, because I'm actually a little bit afraid of her). She pretty much supervised and finished off a bottle of wine while Christa and I did the work until I made her do some of the measuring. We made four different kinds of cookies and a batch of sinful rocky road brownies, and then Bryn gave us all a belly dance class workout. It was a blast!
My favorite recipe follows, which Christa graciously gave me. She's a real sweetheart, and looking forward to getting married next November. I can't wait either!
These cookies are great fresh from the oven, but they're just as good up to a week later if you keep them in an air tight container. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from Christa, Bryn and me.
Christmas Molasses Spice Cookies
2.5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 heaping (and I mean heaping--heck, just put in 2) tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground allspice
big pinch of cracked or coarsely ground black pepper (don't wimp out on me, it's worth it!)
1.5 sticks (0.75 cup) room temp butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
0.5 cup molasses (not blackstrap!)
1 large egg
0.5 cup sugar for rolling the cookies
-preheat oven to 350
-combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper
-using a mixer, beat butter, sugar and molasses until smooth and creamy
-add egg and beat for 1 minute
-add dry ingredients and beat slowly until flour and spices disappear (make sure to scrape bottom of bowl to get everything evenly combined)
-dough will be very soft, so divide in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour
-put "rolling" sugar in a small bowl
-using one half of dough at a time, cut/break into 12 pieces and roll each into a smooth ball between your palms (Bryn wanted no part of this step!)
-roll each ball in sugar and place on parchment/Silpat lined baking sheet (Christa and I both use Silpat sheets and we love them, FYI). Don't put them too close together because they'll spread out.
-dip bottom of drinking glass (wine glasses in our case :)) in sugar and press down on each ball of dough until they are between a quarter to a half inch thick
-place sheet on center rack of the oven and bake 12-14 minutes, or until tops of cookies are set, then transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temp if you can wait that long
-the cookies will be crunchy around the edges and chewy in the middle. Yum!
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