Ask A Detroit Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

November 28, 2017 12:00 AM

There’s really not a lot to look forward to in Detroit around the dead of winter each year. From the ice-covered roads, to the foot upon foot of snow, to the cold mornings that make you bury your face deeper into your pillow as the alarm goes off… it’s a dismal scene. Enter Christmas cookies! Yes, things get tough out there, but a fresh batch of some holiday-themed cookies should get you right back in the mood to spend some time with friends and family this Christmas like only warm, oven-fresh cookies can.

Chef Scott Twichell
Culinary Institute of Michigan
2000 St. Clair St.
Port Huron, MI 48060
(810) 982-5612
www.culinaryinstitutemi.com

Chef Twichell and Student Chefs Andrades and Watson cooked up these Christmas cookie recipes in the kitchens of Baker College of Port Huron’s Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM). Chef Twichell knew at an early age that the culinary arts was his passion when he discovered how much he enjoyed helping his mother make cookies. A native of Michigan, he first created sweets at several pastry and bakery shops throughout Southeast Michigan, and then worked for the Detroit MotorCity Casino Hotel for 15 years. Today, he is the lead instructor for the baking and pastry programs at the CIM Port Huron. Student Chef Andrades, of New York City, New York, fell in love with the culinary arts through the Puerto Rican delicacies she made with her mother. Student Chef Watson hails from St. Clair and splits her time between classes in Port Huron and work as a cake decorator.

Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Chocolate coating for dipping
  • Sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a mixer with a paddle, cream butter and sugar until smooth, for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add flour and salt. Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Press into 1/4 sheet tray that has been sprayed.
  5. Bake until golden brown in color.
  6. Remove immediately from the oven and dust lightly with granulated sugar.
  7. Cut into bars while still hot. Let cool.
  8. Remove bars from pan and dip half way into chocolate coating. Place on a piece of parchment paper to let the chocolate dry.

Peanut Butter Nut Bars

Dough:

  • 12 ounces butter
  • 6 ounces sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces cake flour

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl with a paddle, cream butter and sugar well.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla and mix. Scrape the bowl.
  3. Add flour and mix until just combined.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  6. Roll dough in flour until slightly larger than pan.
  7. Roll dough onto floured rolling pin and unroll onto sprayed 1/4 sheet tray.
  8. Press dough on tray and up the sides.
  9. Poke holes in dough using a fork.
  10. Bake until light brown.
  11. Cool completely.

Filling:

  • 1 pound butter
  • 12 ounces honey
  • 12 ounces brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 pounds mixed nut pieces (pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios)
  • 1/2 cup melted peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cream

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a pot, combine butter, honey and sugars, and bring to a boil.
  3. Boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and cream. Stir until smooth.
  5. Stir in nuts.
  6. Pour mixture onto crust.
  7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven carefully.
  8. Cool completely in refrigerator.
  9. Remove from pan by loosening crust around the sides.
  10. On a cutting board, cut into bars.

Related: Ask A Detroit Expert: Best Tailgate Food

Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl with a paddle, cream butter and first sugar amount.
  2. Add egg and mix. Scrape bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, tartar, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and blend together until just combined.
  5. Place dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine second sugar amount and cinnamon.
  8. Roll dough into a log and cut into 12 equal pieces.
  9. Roll each piece into a ball and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  10. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
  11. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until edges start to brown.

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 pound shredded coconut
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk chocolate coating

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
  3. Mix using hands until well incorporated.
  4. Use #40-portion scoop (equivalent to 1 2/3 tablespoons) to form mixture into balls. Place the balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake until the coconut macaroon is a light golden brown.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Melt milk chocolate coating.
  8. Dip cooled macaroon half way in chocolate.
  9. Place on a piece of parchment paper to let dry.

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup crystal sugar

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, sift all dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl with a paddle, cream butter with brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Scrape bowl.
  3. Add egg and mix until combined. Scrape bowl.
  4. Add molasses and mix. Scrape bowl.
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Place bowl in refrigerator for a half hour.
  7. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Roll dough into a log and cut into 12 equal pieces.
  9. Place pieces onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  10. Sprinkle each piece with crystal sugar.
  11. Bake in oven until edges begin to brown.

Related: Best Pumpkin Dishes In Metro Detroit 

Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at Examiner.com.

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