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Holiday Cookies Trials and Tribulations

TrishUntrapped Dec 2, 2012 05:15 PM

This is a spinoff from the Holiday Cookie thread:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875786

I thought it might be helpful to explore cookie recipes as we try them out. That way we can get an idea of what recipes are working and what ones may be problematic.

To start, for some reason I am in Ginger mode. Wanting to break away from traditional gingerbread men, I tried two new ginger cookie recipes to see if either would make my cookie platter.

The first from Martha Stewart, Iced Hermits. Verdict: Delicious and easy to make!
http://www.marthastewart.com/314728/iced-hermits

I followed her directions, using the ingredients she specified with no substitutions except for one very minor one. Her recipe called for raisins and I used golden raisins. No biggie. The hermits are moist with a very pleasant spice level. Reminded me of childhood. The icing and crystallized ginger on top elevate the simple hermit to something special.

The second is Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch recommended by rstuart on the holiday cookie thread. Verdict: Delicious! But the original recipe needs a few changes.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

After reading rstuart's comments and Epicurious reader reviews, I made some changes to the original recipe, all for the better. Use good ground ginger. It is the key flavor so don't use an old bottle that has been hanging around a year or two. Add about double the amount of ginger called for in the shortbread and topping. Also add a tablespoon of finely chopped crystallized ginger to the shortbread and two tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger on top after the topping is poured. Use Lyle's syrup, don't substitute corn syrup. Its unique flavor (like melted spun sugar) makes a big difference.The recipe calls for a 13x9x2 pan. I think that is too big. I used an 8 x 10 pan and that was perfect, a 9 x9 pan would be fine as well. Line your pan with parchment, and cut the bars when they are still warm. They are extremely rich, so the smaller the better.

Either of these cookies will give a nice ginger presence to your holiday platter.

A note about crystallized ginger. They aren't all created equal. The ginger I used for the hermits I got yesterday from the local Stop & Shop. It was very dry and thin. Whereas, the ginger I used for the Skibo Crunch I got from another store this morning - Aurora Natural brand and it was much softer, thicker, and I think better tasting.

Pix:
1. Cutting the Iced Hermits
2. Close up of the Hermits - You can see how dry the ginger is.
3. Hermit
4. Plate of Hermits ready to go to the office - my co-workers don't know it but they are my "professional" taste testers.
5. Skibo Crunch cooling
6. Skibo Crunch cut into tiny pieces
7. Skibo Crunch plated and all set for the guinea pi... I mean my office!