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Cookies by the Dozen - Best Baking Gifts for Bakers and Cranberry Cookie Recipes

November 30, 2012

"Shiny new cakes pans filled with rich chocolate batter,
Teaspoons and measuring cups for ingredients that matter,
A KitchenAid stand mixer that stirs dough like a dream,
These are a few of my favorite things."Baking Cookies | CHEFS Mix

‘tis the season for baking, gift lists and gift-giving. Today at CHEFS Mix, we're looking at gifts for bakers and baking cookies with cranberries (scroll down for the recipes). 

If you’re unsure what to give someone who loves to bake, we're here to help. As a home baking enthusiast, I’m as passionate about bakeware as I am about making carrot cake and biscotti.

Here are some of my favorite gift ideas.

New Bakeware – Any home baker would love new, professional quality bakeware to replace worn-out pieces like warped cookie sheets and dented cake pans. Top brands include Chicago Metallic, USA Pans, Cuisinart and Nordic Ware.

Trendsetters – Innovative bakeware always catches my attention. This year, I’m eyeing the Curtis Stone Pop-out cake, muffin and loaf pans and Kuhn-Rikon PushPan cake pans. Each features a quick way to remove baked goods safely and cleanly from their pans. For baking popular no-knead rustic bread loaves, I like the Sassafras Domed Bread Baker, made from natural stoneware.

KitchenAid 7-quart Stand Mixer | CHEFSStand Mixer – If baking is a passion, then a stand mixer is a necessity. Choose one from great brands like KitchenAid, Cuisinart and Breville. At the top of my wish-list: a KitchenAid 7-quart stand mixer with a powerful DC (direct current) motor that's efficient and quiet.

Hand Mixer – Although I give my stand mixer a workout every time I bake, I still need a portable hand mixer for stove top and smaller mixing tasks. Top choices include hand mixers from KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Dualit and Breville.

Tortes and Tiered Cakes – Elegant tortes and other multi-layered cakes are “in” desserts. With the Frieling Layer Cake Slicing Kit, I can slice and fill cake layers just like a professional pastry chef. I added Fat Daddio's tiered cake pan sets (round or square) to my personal wish-list – the sets are so convenient when baking special occasion cakes. Finally, I can't imagine frosting and decorating cakes without a revolving cake stand and decorating spatulas.

Digital Scale – Many bakers prefer to weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Today’s digital scales are affordable and easy to use and read. I use the OXO Digital Scale that has an over-sized LCD display, stainless steel platform and slim profile.

Mini Baking Pans – Bite-sized treats are still popular, especially for entertaining. Specialty baking pans will help anyone bake perfect mini-cheesecakes, mini-muffins, mini-pies, tartlettes, brownie bites and more. Baking at CHEFS | CHEFS Mix

Specialty Baking Ingredients – During the holiday baking season, specialty baking ingredients add flair and flavor to sweet treats. I could really use a set of Ateco Food Color Gels to tint royal icing and several Nielsen-Massey Pure Flavor Extracts to flavor cheesecake, hot chocolate, truffles and peppermint bark.

Classic Bakeware – You can’t go wrong with classic pieces like the original Nordic Ware Bundt pan and springform pans in traditional and mini sizes. I especially like Kaiser’s rectangular springform pan – perfect for carrot cake.

Baking Sheets – Bakers can always use another set of baking sheets. My favorites are from USA Pans and Chicago Metallic.

Stocking Stuffers and More – During hectic baking sessions, spare sets of measuring spoons, measuring cups, mixing bowls and cooling racks always come in handy. Also on my favorite's list:  silicone baking sheet liners, portion scoops for scooping even amounts of batter and cookie dough, ceramic pie weights, a carrier for cakes, pies and cupcakes that collapses for easy storage, a French rolling pin and a set of decorating tips for pastry bags.

Still stumped? For more ideas, check out our gift lists for bakers and cooking enthusiasts.

Your Turn:

As a baking enthusiast, what are your favorite baking tools and bakeware to give or receive? This year, what is the one item on your wish list that you really want?

Today's Cookie Recipes

Cranberries are a popular baking ingredient whether fresh, frozen or dried. They add both sweet and tart notes to cookies, breads and cakes. To appease your sweet tooth this weekend, try our two cranberry cookie recipes.

Cranberry Filled Shortbread Cookies from CHEFS Mix

 printer-friendly recipe Cranberry Filled Shortbread Cookies | CHEFS Mix

Cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar plus more for rolling out cookies
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and sorted
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using hand or stand mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. With mixer running, gradually add in powdered sugar. Add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until just combined.

3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine cranberries, water, and sugar. Stir to combine. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil. Once cranberries begin to pop and open, lower heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes or until filling reaches until thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, and pour cranberry mixture into bowl and allow filling to cool completely.

5. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on a surface dusted with powdered sugar. Using 2-inch square cookie cutters, cut out cookies. If dough gets too soft, return to refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

6. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into the center of the cookie. Lift the four corners of the cookie to the center and pinch closed. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to turn golden brown.

7. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. When cooled, dust cookies with additional powdered sugar.

 
White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies from CHEFS MixWhite Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies

 printer-friendly recipe

1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups sweetened, dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Sift together flour, soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla; stir to combine. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Gradually add flour 1/2 cup at a time.

3. Fold in the macadamia nuts, white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

4. Drop by heaping teaspoon on a baking sheet 1-1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Cookies by the dozen! See more blogs on cookie baking tips and ideas, right here at CHEFS Mix.

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Tags: Cookies, Cranberries, Gifts, Holiday

Categories: Food & Recipes