Ask A Sacramento Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

Ask A Sacramento Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

You might have an old family recipe or you might not. Maybe you’d like to do something new. Take some tips from the cookie chefs and leave something special for Santa this year. Make plenty and keep some for yourself too. You’ve been nice this year, right?

Robyn Delfino
Apple Blossom Coffee House
4077 Carson Road
Camino, CA 95709
(530) 644-0284
www.appleblossomcoffeehouse.com

Robyn Delfino learned the baking business from her mother-in-law Joan Delfino, an icon in Apple Hill. Robyn started out baking at the Delfino’s Kids, Inc. in 1995. In 2011, the Apple Blossom Coffee House opened its doors and immediately became a warm and welcoming place for great coffee and goodies in Camino. Famous now for its caminoccino, an original blended iced coffee drink, Robyn also serves breakfast, soups, pastries and lunch. Seasonal fruits and veggies are used in all of the offerings on the menu. Robyn is a true entrepreneur, with a BA (Accounting) from Cal Poly and an MBA from Sac State. Here’s a hint: Joan Delfino gave Robyn her coveted hot cocoa recipe and her sausage lentil soup recipe, two items you may want to indulge in. Prepare to be deliciously amazed.

Chocolate Caramel Treasures
(pairs well with a hazelnut latte)

Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, cocoa and salt. (Sift for best results)
  2. Beat together butter, sugar, yolk, milk and vanilla until well blended.
  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat on low speed until mixture forms a dough.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Roll scant tablespoon of dough into ball and coat with egg white and roll in nuts to coat and arrange on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Press center with thumb leaving an indention.
  8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until puffed slightly but center’s still soft.
  9. Remove from oven and immediately press centers again (I use round end of the handle of a whisk).
  10. Cool on wire racks.

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Caramel (can caramel recipe for “Caramel Espresso Bars” below)

Ingredients:

  • 10 plain caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Heat caramel and cream over low heat until mixture is smooth.
  2. Spoon into centers of cookies and cool completely.

Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz fine-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in double boiler (or pan of simmering water), stirring until smooth.
  2. Cool until warm and pour into heavy duty sealable plastic bag.
  3. Snip corner to form small hole and drizzle chocolate over cookies.

Caramel Espresso Bars
(pairs well with French Roast, French Pressed Coffee)

Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Process dry ingredients in food processor until smooth.
  3. Stir in butter until mixture is well combined.
  4. Line 1/2 sheet rimmed baking pan (16X12) with parchment.
  5. Press mixture evenly in lined pan.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes. 

Caramel

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Directions:

  1. In saucepan, combine cream, butter, brown sugar and water. Bring mixture to a full boil and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes (if using a candy thermometer, until it registers 240 degrees).
  2. Carefully pour caramel over warm crust. 
  3. Cook for 20 minutes. Freeze until firm, 10 minutes.

Chocolate layer

Ingredients

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 heaping teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate chips and cream in small bowl over simmering water.
  2. Stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.
  3. Whisk in espresso powder.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel layer and smooth with spatula.
  5. Sprinkle top with sea salt. (optional)
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour. 
  7. Serve in baking cups

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies
(pairs well with Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. Combine cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups sugar and chai spices in large bowl.
  5. Pour melted, warm butter over cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine.
  6. Whisk in oil until incorporated.
  7. Add egg, milk and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth.
  8. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft dough forms.
  9. Roll 2 tablespoons of dough at a time into balls. 
  10. Place 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl and roll balls in sugar to coat.
  11. Using the bottom of a measure cup, flatten balls into a two inch diameter disk.
  12. Sprinkle lightly and evenly with a portion of the remaining sugar.
  13. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating for even baking.
  14. Cook on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Teal Triolo
Sierra Rizing Cafe & Bakery
7310 California  49
Lotus, CA 95651
(530) 642-1308
www.sierrarizing.com

Teal has been in the baking business her “…entire life.” The last 22 years have been as a professional, baking and working in restaurants. She opened Sierra Rizing 13 years ago, and chose Lotus because of its beauty and affordability. She is self taught and learned the baking business from the time she was old enough to hold a spoon and stir, perhaps the best of all educations. Baking dog biscuits in her kitchen led to opening her own business, which evolved into much more than pooch treats. She loves the community of Lotus, and her shop offers full, delicious catering.

No Egg Butter Thumbprints

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup any high quality preserves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add sifted flour, and mix well.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheets.
  5. Imprint your thumb in the center to form a well.
  6. Fill with your preserves.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.

Nut & Chip Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder, set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.
  5. Roll or scoop dough into walnut-sized balls.
  6. Place them on cookie sheets 1 1/2 inches apart.
  7. Flatten cookies slightly.
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until light golden brown.
  9. Remove from sheets to cool on rack.

No-Bake Maple Peanut Butter Confections

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple-flavored extract
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, peanut butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla and maple extract.
  2. Cream well and knead well. 
  3. Melt the chocolate chips over low heat.
  4. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. 
  5. Dip into melted chocolate chips.
  6. Refrigerate overnight (or at least for about 20 minutes) on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

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Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. In 2010 he retired from teaching after 36 years . He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at Examiner.com.