Takeout barbecue — with even a vegan option — for your picnic.
There's still time to make holiday cookies, although as we go into Christmas week crunch time, you might be feeling like you'd prefer a stiff drink. Why not mix the two?
There's nothing wrong with adding a little bit of liquor to a cookie recipe as long as you keep the cookies on a separate plate and away from children. That said, the Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Amaretto Macaroon recipes that we tested are really tasty. There's just enough liquor in each recipe to give the cookies an extra boost of flavor.
The Peanut Butter Cookie recipe is from Karen Koger of Harmony. "I bring these cookies to church and everyone loves them," she said. "They're so easy to make, and they're gluten-free."
They are indeed easy. All you need is peanut butter, sugar and an egg. If you follow a gluten-free diet, please read the ingredients listed on the jar of peanut butter beforehand, as not all peanut butter brands are gluten-free.
BOOZY BOURBON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons bourbon
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the racks so they divide the oven into thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth and well blended, about 1 minute. Add egg and mix until completely combined. Add the bourbon gradually, approximately 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, scraping the bowl if necessary to incorporate the dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using) and mix on low speed until evenly distributed. The dough should be smooth, dense, and somewhat pliable (This dough benefits from resting in the fridge covered, for 12 to 24 hours before baking.)
Using a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon measure (I used a 11/2-inch cookie scoop), drop well-rounded balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time, until brown on the edges and a light tan color in the middle. These cookies will be on the pale side when baked.
When cool enough to handle, transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will keep for 2 to 3 days.
Makes about 34 cookies.
-- "Chocolate Chip Cookies: Dozens of Recipes For Reinterpreted Favorites" by Carey Jones and Robyn Lenzi (Chronicle, 2013, $19.95)
AMARETTO MACAROONS (OR TRIPLE-ALMOND MACAROONS)
This recipe is from a book by the founder of Danny Macaroons that are sold in shops in New York City and Chicago and at dannymacaroons.com.
You can find almond butter at most large grocery stores or cake and candy supply stores. If you want to make your own, place 1 cup roasted and chopped almonds and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a food processor and process until creamy. To make roasted almonds, place almonds on a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees about 5 minutes or until light brown.
Almond extract can be substituted for the vanilla extract to make the triple-almond version.
8 ounces by weight (about half a 14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons almond butter
5 teaspoons amaretto
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl measure out 8 ounces of the condensed milk by weight. If you don't have a scale, use just over half of the can. Add the almond butter, amaretto, ¼ cup of the almonds and vanilla and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Add coconut and combine until thoroughly mixed, set aside.
Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or hand held mixer) and whip on medium-high until very stiff peaks form, 21/2 to 3 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. After it's combined, push the mixture into one big blob to make it easier to portion out the macaroons.
Dip 2 spoons into a small bowl of water, shake them off and scoop out some of the batter, forming into balls approximately 11/2 inches in diameter, place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. (Or form them by hand, but be sure to wet your fingers frequently.)
Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup chopped almonds onto each macaroon, pressing them in lightly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. After about 22 minutes, start checking for coloring. Look for an even light golden color and for the undersides to be nicely tanned.
Remove from oven; set pan on a cooling rack until the macaroons are cool enough to remove (about 2 minutes). Place macaroons on the cooling rack to cool completely. Macaroons will keep at room temperature 3 to 5 days in an airtight container, or about 3 in the fridge or stored for a few months in the freezer.
Makes 24 2-inch macaroons.
-- "The Macaroon Bible" by Dan Cohen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, $17.99)
3-INGREDIENT PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
This recipe can be doubled.
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
Sugar for rolling the cookies
Layer a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Shape cookies into 1-inch balls (I used a 11/2-inch cookie scoop). Roll the balls in sugar and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Using a fork press each cookie flat, forming a crisscross pattern. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes or until set or slightly golden. Cool on rack.
Makes about 24 cookies.
-- Karen Koger, Harmony
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