My favorite Chef and dear friend Karen and I recently made over eight dozen cookies to send to the troops in Afghanistan. One of my favorites we made was these Mexican Chocolate Christmas Trees. They are essentially a shortbread cookie but with all the decadence of chocolate. Adding cinnamon, chili powder and pepper make these cookies spicy, giving them a rich and deep flavor.
I have to admit I have been baking more cookies than even the cookie monster can eat and there are a few tricks I have picked up along the way. One, always use room temperature ingredients unless otherwise specified! When you use room temperature butter and eggs you can really see the difference in your batter. It is also generally good to chill your dough before baking as it will hold better shape when baking. I also like to use good quality butter & eggs as they can really add a lot of flavor!
Mexican Chocolate Christmas Trees
1 1/2 cups room temperature butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 room temperature eggs, beaten
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs one by one and beat until fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together and add creamed mixture. Beat until combine. Divide dough into three balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough and cut into desired shape. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until firm. Cool & enjoy!!!
I love homemade gifts for Christmas. There is nothing worse than wasting money on a thoughtless gift that no one wants, but what does everyone love? Booze. I've been gifted Apple Pie Moonshine on several occasions and this simple and sweet mix is a pleasing treat on the holidays, when lets be real we could all use a little more booze. I used my favorite orchard Solebury Orchards in New Hope, who are famous for their Honey Crisp Apples. This hooch is easy to whip up and is crazy delicious. This recipe makes a BUNCH (4+/- gallons) and can be done on the cheap if your on a budget, for me it was around 60 bucks for ever thing but I already had the jars and cinnamon. You can also easily half this recipe.
Apple Pie Moonshine
1 gallon apple cider
1 gallon apple juice
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
8 cinnamon sticks
1 liter bottle of 190 proof moonshine or grain alcohol (I used EverClear)
In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients, except for grain alcohol, and bring to a boil. Add alcohol and pour into desired containers. I used 4oz ball jars and three large glass bottles. Add cinnamon stick to each container. You can drink this right away but it tastes best after 6 weeks.