“Peaknut” Crinkles

Each December for the last several years, I’ve dreamed up a Christmas cookie for the blog. This time, I might have found my very favorite–just in time for your weekend last-minute baking.  “Peaknut” Crinkles are a twist on the always-favorite Chocolate Crinkles so often made at holiday time.

My own crinkle recipe– pictured above–and this is a riff on that– is one I’ve made for years and I have no idea from whence it came.  More than once, I’ve really searched to discover its provenance, but the crinkle recipes I find are not like mine and so I have no idea. Thanks to that cookie baker I’ve never found!! Now, just so you know:  the difference between “my” recipe and the others is this:  mine uses melted chocolate and ALSO chocolate chips; every other one I locate is made with only cocoa.  So.   “My” Chocolate Crinkle Recipe.

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Chocolate Bottom Cranberry Muffins

These muffins–and muffins they be– are not an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Not too sweet and with a pebbly-crunchy mouthfeel, they still hold a holiday-ishly decadent pizzaz with the very best bittersweet chocolate baked right into the bottom of the muffin. You can also add it at the top if a frosting effect is more to your liking (see Cook’s Notes), but I do very much like the little secret chocolate that’s perfectly hidden until you take your first bite.  If you’ve been roaring on about trying not to eat all those goodies this month (waa, waa, waa), take heart; read on…

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Chocolate-Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

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For anyone with Scots background, shortbread is the Christmas cookie. In whatever “shape or form”, to quote my Dad, it might come.  It also happens to be my  very favorite cookie of any season and you can find it on the blog in a few incarnations... The endless variations are a large part of its intrinsic attraction for this baker:

Raspberry Shortbread Sandwich Cookies and Valrhona Chocolate Shortbreads with Sea Salt:

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Two-Cheese Walnut and Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

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Whenever I run into savory little cheese cookies someone’s served with a glass of wine, I’m happy indeed.  These days, they’re usually they’re made with Parmigiano-Reggiano, but older food memories include homemade crispy little cheddar crackers that were just as good with beer as with wine.  Back in the day, these were called “Cheese Pennies” and while they were usually simply round, occasionally a creative baker would even roll them out and cut them out into shapes (suits, of course) for bridge club.

Things that grow together go together

is the saying–Cheddar and Beer being two things the British do very well and Parmigiano-Reggiano and Wine being two things the Italians do just superbly. So, whichever way you roll –to coin a phrase –these savory bits are luscious.

Checking through my top choice cookbooks for such recipes (and tooling around the internet, of course) showed me there’re just as many varieties of not-sweet cookies as there are baking (or other) books on my cookbook shelves.

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Cranberry-Citrus Cheesecake with Cinnamon-Nutmeg Graham Crust

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By the time Christmas or New Year’s comes you might not have the energy for a dessert just for the holiday dinner.  This especially if you’ve entertained or baked throughout the season and simply feel all the cookies and goodies you’ve gotten through the kitchen must certainly be enough.  If that’s the case, and you’ve frozen a few of each of your favorites, pull them out and arrange them in loving fashion on your favorite platter and call it quits.  If, however, you haven’t worn your dear baking self out by now, make my gorgeous cranberry compote cheesecake. Even if you’re not a baker at heart, this is a fairly easy endeavor as long as you have a 9-inch springform pan and said ingredients.

There’s no special skill needed to make a cheesecake.  The filling can be made with a hand-held electric mixer, a standing mixer, or with my favorite machine, the food processor.  If you’ve strong arms or can borrow some, and have your cream cheese truly at close to warm room temperature, you can make this with no machines at all.  Imagine. (I went without an electric mixer for many years of my baking life, so I know wherein I speak.)  You can crush the graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin or a hammer.  If you’ve any sauce pan at all, you can make the cranberry topping.  So go ahead.  Start now; it’s better really well-chilled and keeps for days and days.  Baking blessings, friend.

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