Creating fun and easy Christmas Cookie platters

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LOS ANGELES Ca, December 8th, 2014 – Easy cookie platters aren’t always about baking the best cookie, sometimes they’re about knowing the best cookies, candies and treats to buy.

A good cookie platter should consist of a baked flat cookie, a cookie bar, a sandwich cookie, some sort of candy and last but not least chocolate dipped fruit.

A few timeless baked flat cookies include:

Chocolate chip cookies – these are relatively easy to make.


Dark chocolate chip cookies – believe it or not regular grocery stores have a pretty good selection.

Earthquake cookies– during the holidays you can find these at specialty stores that sell cookies.

Peanut butter cookies- not always a favorite so don’t make too many.

Sugar cookies – Pillsbury makes a good sugar cookie& it can be iced with homemade icing.

A few timeless cookie bars:

Blondie’s Brownies – you would probably need to make these.

Brownies -Trader Joes has delicious brownie bites

Lemon bars– you will have to make these and Betty Crocker’s recipe has a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

A few new ideas for sandwich cookies:

Use some of your store bought or made flat cookies and create ice cream sandwiches.

Buy the latest and greatest Macaroons – Trader Joes sells them in their freezer section.

Oreo cookies – yes I’m serious and to make them fancier dip them in chocolate and sprinkles.

A few new and old favorites when it comes to candy:

Toffee – put the toffee out you received as gifts.

Dark chocolate pistachio bark – finds the recipe below

Hershey’s chocolate kisses white and dark chocolate

Chocolate dipped fruit:

What are the holidays with out chocolate dipped strawberries?

 

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Bark

Ingredients:

2 cups dark chocolate or white chocolate

½ cup toasted unsalted pistachios

Parchment paper

½ sheet pan

Directions:

Cut your parchment paper to fit your ½ sheet pan.

Grease the parchment paper.

Set aside.

Fill a small pot a quarter of the way with water and get a clean stainless steel bowl that fits over the top.

Be careful to NOT let any water get into the bowl.

Tempering the chocolate is not necessary but if you desire a shinier chocolate you can (the process of preparing couverture for dipping, coating, molding, and other purposes is called tempering*) keep the water on medium low to prevent over heating the chocolate. Place the chocolate into a bowl and slowly melt it.

Keep an eye on the chocolate so that it doesn’t get too hot and become hard and dull. Add in the pistachios and lightly mix.

Spread over the parchment paper using a greased spatula and let cool until hardened. Once it is hardened break it into many pieces.

Check out Chef Mary’s Web site to find out how to temper.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients:

1 large container of rinsed and dried strawberries

1 pound of desired chocolate (dark for a healthier version)

¼ cup white chocolate for decoration

Directions:

Cut your parchment paper to fit your ½ sheet pan.

Grease the parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small pot filled a quarter of the way with water and a clean stainless steel bowl that fits over the top. Fix like above

Be careful to NOT let any water get into the bowl.

Tempering the chocolate is not necessary but if you desire a shinier chocolate you may do so (the process of preparing couverture for dipping, coating, molding, and other purposes is called tempering*).

Keep the water on medium-low to prevent over heating the chocolate.

Place the chocolates into 2 different bowls and melt them one after the other. Keep an eye on the chocolate so it doesn’t get too hot and become hard and dull.

Once the chocolates have been melted, dip the dried strawberries into the chocolate and gently place on to the parchment paper to dry.

You can use forks prongs as a decorating tool by dipping the prongs into the white chocolate and gently splattering the strawberries from a few inches away.

Chocolate glazed Ice Cream Puffs

Ingredients:

4 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

1 cup water

1 stick of butter cut into cubes

1 ½ cups vanilla ice cream

½ cup chocolate melted

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover a ½ sheet pan with parchment paper and grease with spray.

In a large saucepot bring the water and butter up to a boil.

Slowly add in the flour, mixing vigorously with a whisk.

Cook out all of the flour for a few minutes and then remove from the stove.

Once all the flour is incorporated, slowly mix in beaten eggs.

The dough should begin to get a bit slippery in texture. Smooth and shiny.

Once the eggs have been incorporated, put dough into a piping bag and pipe out quarter size balls from the dough.

They grow in size so place them around 1-2 inches apart.

Bake for 18-24 minutes depending on your oven.

They should be golden brown.

Once they have cooled, fill them with ice cream and top with hot chocolate sauce.

Sugar Cookies Tips

Sugar Cookies are another one of those great gifts that always seem to fit any occasion and they are always wonderful for the holidays. The fanciful cookie cutters that are available allow you to have any shaped cookie you desire and if you are not happy with the shapes available, you can always create your own cookie cutter.

I had a client who wanted key cookies and through an online source I found a company that makes cookie cutters from your personal drawings. I always ended up with some cookies browner on the edges than other cookies. I later learned that this can usually mean that the oven is too hot, the dough is rolled out to thin on the edges or that I baked them too long.

Here are few tips to help you make your sugar cookies perfect cookies.

Tips for Sugar Cookies-

Roll the dough evenly

For crisp sugar cookies roll the dough to a thin thickness

Bake them on very clean cookie sheets so they don’t absorb the flavor

Follow the directions carefully

For softer sugar cookies roll them out to a thicker thickness and bake them for a shorter time period

Keep them stored in a tightly sealed container if they are without icing to prevent them from becoming soft.

Ice them the day you want to serve them

Short on time? Make the dough ahead of time and keep it refrigerated

Make sure that you have enough cooling racks for the amount of cookies you want to bake.

 

 

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Mary Moran
Upon graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in 2002, Chef Mary Payne Moran began her professional career shelling crabs at the world-renowned restaurant, Michael's in Santa Monica. Simultaneously, she launched her own company, Hail Mary’s, founded upon the belief that good food nurtures the soul, and began catering weddings, parties and large corporate events. In the fall of 2008, Mary began teaching her culinary skills to others. Currently she can be found at Hollywood School House teaching her after school cooking class, and teaching her popular "Vegetables or Not Here I Come" assembly. Most recently, Mary has launched another division in her company as well as a chef she is now also a Certified Nutritionist for high profile clients. She helps her clients discover their healthy way of eating. Mary has recently been published in the Los Angeles Magazine, & The New Jersey Star Ledger. Daily she addresses cooking aficionados through her blog - Cooking with Chef Mary as well as her how-to webisodes on You Tube.