It's almost time for holiday baking

By Sharon Ghag

McClatchy Newspapers

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 4:03 p.m. MDT

Instructions: Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Set a small pot of water on the stove and bring it to a simmer. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl atop the pot. Stir chocolate until it's melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix to combine. Pour in the melted chocolate and continue beating. Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips, half at a time, and mix on low speed, until just incorporated. Refrigerate dough 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for eight to 10 minutes. Cookies will firm once cooled.

— "The Cookiepedia"

MOLASSES CONSTRUCTIONCRUMPLES

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup vegetable shortening

1 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Instructions: Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a large bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Mix in the egg and molasses on low speed until blended. Add the flour mixture gradually, and beat until just incorporated, about one minute. Form the dough into a ball, and cover tightly with plastic. Chill for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line sheets with parchment paper. Put granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll a tablespoonful of dough into a ball the size of a large walnut. Dip the top half of the dough ball in sugar and place it sugar side up on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are set but soft in the center.

— "Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story," by Kimberly "Momma" Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99)

ALMOND CRESCENTS

Makes about 28 cookies

Ingredients:

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder and ? teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (plus 2 1/2 cups for dredging baked cookies)

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

¾ cup slivered almonds for pressing on the baked cookies

Instructions: Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Scatter over the finely chopped almonds and whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add the flour almond mixture and stir to form a dough. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slivered almonds in bowl.

Scoop up 1 tablespoon-size pieces of dough and roll into stubby logs. Place each log of dough 2 inches apart on baking pan. Form the logs into crescent shapes, tapering the ends slightly. Apply sliced almonds to the top of the cookies and gently plump up the dough. Bake cookies 15 to 16 minutes, or until set and light golden. Cool cookies. Dredge the cookies in confectioners' sugar. Wait 20 minutes and dredge in sugar again.

— "Baking Style," by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, $45)

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