Besides christmas trees, santa and his reindeers, candy canes are definitely up there when we think about christmas stereotypes. They just have such an iconic shape and taste. This year, let’s transform the tasty tweet into incredibly delicious candy cane cookies. While these christmas cookies might closely ressemble candy canes, they however taste nothing like them as they go for a buttery vanilla flavor. So no peppermint this time around.
Candy canes were supposedly invented in the German city of Cologne in 1670. The choirmaster of the Cologne Cathedral handed them out to his young singers during service. They made their way to the US in the 19th century thanks to a German-Swedish immigrant who moved to Ohio. Candy canes used to only ever be white, yet at the start of the 20th century they got their iconic red stripes added and got their typical peppermint flavor. Interstingly though, they are not really present in Germany nowadays and if they are it’s more seen as something very American.
With these amazing candy cane cookies, it is absolutely crucial that you let them cool down first, before storing them away. They start out being quite fragile, when they come out of the oven. So it’s prudent to let them cool down and harden a bit.
At a glance
Servings: 24 cookies
Preparation time: 15 min
Rest time: 1 hr
Oven time: 16 min
Time from start to finish: 1 hr 31 min
2 cups and 1 teaspoon (300 grams) of flour
2/3 cups (135 grams) of white sugar
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon a.k.a. one stick + 1 teaspoon (125 grams) of room-temperature butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla aroma
1 pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of red food coloring
Mix all ingredients (except for the red food coloring) for the candy cane cookies in a large bowl until everything is well blended and you have a smooth dough. Afterwards, split the cookie dough in two equal halfs and then add the red food color to one of them.
Let the both parts of the dough for your candy cane cookies rest in the fridge for 1 hour to chill. This step is actually really important, as it refers to the temperature of the butter. The softer the butter, the more the dough will spread out and be runny in the oven, while that’s great for chocolate chip cookies, it is not ideal for cookies that should hold their shape.
Separate each of the cookie doughs into 24 parts and roll each part into a 4 inches long log. You should then end up with 24 red and 24 white logs. Pair each red with one white and roll them against each other to combine them to a two colored log. Next twist the logs on both end into opposing directions so you get the typical candy cane color twist.
Place the cookie on a baking tray prepared with parchment paper and lay them in a candy cane form, meaning the upper end needs to bend down. You should at end up with two filled baking trays for that. Make sure to bake them one after the other and not both at the same time as the cookies should get equal amount of heat from above and below.
Bake the candy cane cookies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes. Carefully let them slip of the baking tray onto a cooling rack or your kitchen counter. Be very gentle with that as the cookies tend to break easily until they are fully cooled down.
Congratulations, you have just created an absolutely delicious batch of vanilla christmas cookies that might not only be your new favorite, but will certainly make Santa very happy, when he finds them under the tree.
Baking is chemistry performed in a kitchen instead of a lab. Every step matters, the order matters, the temperature matters, the timing matters. To make your baking experience a joyful occasion and help you take your baking skills to the next level, check out this cheat sheet with eleven hacks and guiding principles.
After all, baking is a very meditative exercise; you focus on the tasks at hand and can lose yourself a little in the process. It’s a worry-free state of mind, as you need to be in the now and can forget about all the other stuff that goes on in your life for a while. Therefore, I am convinced that baking should be fully recognized as a viable mindfulness activity.
Baking Hack No. 1: The temperature of your butter makes all the difference
You might think that butter is butter and that is the end of it. Nope, it’s not. The temperature of the butter makes or breaks your baked creations. The eternal butter rules command the following: Use melted butter if your aim is to get chewy results (for instance, if you aim for the perfect chocolate chip cookies.
Room-temperature butter is ideal for cakes and cupcakes, as it allows for a little spreading while also giving your sweet treat a fluffy texture. Cold butter (cold, not frozen) is your butter of choice for doughs that should retain their structure and not spread out or rise, like quiche dough or galettes, or like these veggies boats.
Baking Hack No. 2: Make your own protein flour, i.e., gluten-free flour
Are you dedicated to your workout goals and want to increase the share of protein in your diet, but still be able to say a whole-hearted “Yes!” to that tasty-looking slice of cake? Do you have a gluten intolerance, but crave a sweet treat? Do you want to eat healthy, but acknowledge that healthy includes mental health, which means also treating yourself to something good? If you want to try to go gluten-free, check out this Article by Harvard Medical School.
The reasons for not wanting to use standard wheat flour can be as complex and numerous as the types of cake in this world. Oats however, these unassuming and rather boring-looking flakes, present a simple solution that does not make you compromise on taste and are therefore baking hack number 2. You can swap oats for flour at a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe requires 7 ounces/200 grams of flour, simply weigh the exact same amount of oats and put them through a blender. Shred the flakes for about a minute or two tops and tata… you just created oat flour.
Baking Hack No. 3: How to keep brown sugar soft
Unlike their white brothers and sisters, brown sugar crystals have the annoying tendency to harden in their storage containers. You can avoid that with this simple baking hack: add one or two marshmallows to the jar and the sugar will stay soft.
Baking Hack No. 4: How to test if your eggs are still good
Place the egg in question in a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, it’s fresh. If it stands on one end, use it right away. If the egg floats, however, toss it as it’s no longer good for use. Not only a niffty baking hack, but also extremely helpful for scrambled eggs.
Baking Hack No. 5: How to quickly bring a refrigerated egg to room temperature
Your recipe asks for room-temperature eggs, but you accidently overlooked that part and need a quick solution? Try my baking hack number 5. Don’t worry, you got this. Simply fill a bowl with luke-warm water and let the egg sit in it for 15 minutes.
Baking Hack No. 6: Save time and energy by using parchment paper instead of cooking spray or butter
Forget about baking spray or buttering a cake mold, and most importantly, those lengthy post-baking clean-up sessions. Use parchment paper for your brownie pans and cake molds. It makes everything hassle-free and is therefore a very cherished baking hack of mine. Not only does it drastically reduce cleaning time but it also makes it much easier to get brownies or cakes out of their molds without accidently breaking them or making things difficult.
Baking Hack No. 7: When to use baking soda vs. baking powder
People often ask if they can simply replace baking soda with baking powder or vice versa. The sad truth is: no, you can’t. They are not substitutes.
The chemical reason behind this is that baking powder contains an acid that can create a rising reaction in the dough, whereas baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and does not have that acid. This means that the baking soda needs the acid and a liquid to be activated and thus induce the dough to rise. Baking powder only requires a liquid to work its magic.
Acids that work with baking soda include buttermilk, brown sugar, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, molasses, applesauce, cocoa powder, or honey. Thus, while soda as a base (chemically-speaking) needs the acid to work, it is also three to four times more powerful in its effect than baking powder and thus enables fluffier, lighter dough textures to be achieved. It also means that you need significantly less product in comparison.
Baking powder is your go-to solution if your recipe otherwise does not require any acid. Some recipes require soda AND powder, as the acid in the recipe is not enough to achieve the desired rising effect. A good example of this is buttermilk pancakes or my cottage cheese protein pancakes.
Baking Hack No. 8: How much baking soda and/or baking powder do I need?
Your ratio should be ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour. Because baking soda and baking powder create an instant chemical reaction, keep in mind that any recipe that requires either of them is not suitable to make in advance. When you combine your ingredients into the dough, both the baking soda and the powder will become activated right away, even though you will only see the effect take place in front of your eyes once the cake/cookie/cupcake is in the oven.
Baking Hack No. 9: What kind of chocolate for which kinds of results?
There are essentially three main options to choose from that all have very different effects: Chocolate chips, baking chocolate, and cacao powder. Here a quick baking hack overview on when to use what.
If you want to have little visible chunks of chocolate in your baked goods, always opt for chocolate chips, as they do not melt when exposed to heat, which is thanks to stabilizers and preservatives. This is what makes them perfect for chocolate chip cookies.
Baking chocolate, however, does melt and is perfect for creating a chocolate ganache or a frosting. It’s also usually JUST chocolate, which means it tastes a little bitter and does not contain any added sugar. That being said, if your recipe requires you to add baking chocolate, use baking chocolate and not just any given chocolate bar you found in the candy aisle, as it will drastically change the outcome and probably make the result way sweeter than you desire. This also means that a recipe tends to refer to dark chocolate, a.k.a., bittersweet chocolate.
Only use white baking chocolate when it is explicitly noted, as it’s technically not chocolate since it only contains chocolate butter but lacks the chocolate liquor of dark and milk chocolate. If you want a sweeter substitute for dark chocolate, use semi-sweet. Milk chocolate for baking is the sweetest of the bunch, as it only contains 10% cacao, although that kind of sweetness is just the right solution sometimes.
Last but not least, a few words on cacao. It’s actually a really funny one, as cacao powder is the result of a fermentation and roasting process of cacao beans during which most of the cacao butter is removed, leaving essentially just the chocolate liquor. This liquor is then dried and ground into what we use as cacao powder.
Baking Hack No. 10: Timing is everything
That also means that you do not want to sit there and do high level math calculating how much more time you should give your cookies, now that you decided to slide them into the oven before it reached the desired temperature. While it’s all nice to nibble on raw cookie dough, don’t diminish your cookie eating fun by having mushy, half-baked treats.
This also includes not leaving cookies on the baking tray after taking them out of the oven, as the heat of the tray will essentially mean you prolong the baking process. You would thereby risk burning them or making them needlessly hard. Simply let them slide onto a cooling rack or a clean fabric kitchen towel.
Baking Hack No. 11: Choose the right kind of cookie storage
Nothing is more saddening than investing a lot of time and effort into baking the perfect cookies, only for them to become super hard or extremely soft rather quickly. Cookies are like strawberries – delicate little entities that want to be handled with tender love and care. If you have cookies or ginger bread that tends to harden up easily, lay a piece of apple in the cookie jar. The moisture from the fruit will keep the baked treats soft. Alternatively, use a couple of marshmallows; it sounds crazy, but it DOES work.
Cookies that have a chocolate or icing cover should be stored using parchment paper as a separator, otherwise they will become glued together and you’ll end up with one gigantic cookie rather than multiple small ones.
Ideally, opt for a metal or glass cookie jar, and do not use a plastic box, as the plastic will make your cookies go soft. If your goal is to keep the cookies very soft (like chocolate chip cookies), then yes, use plastic. In any case, do not store them in the fridge.
The key ingredient to low-carb cinnamon star cookies is cinnamon. It is one of those ultimate Christmas spices, so naturally you should make some cinnamon cookies to get into the holiday cheer and Christmas spirit. Cinnamon stars are therefore a very traditional German Christmas cookie and oh so tasty. Like all festive treats, they contribute to the all-time favorite New Year’s resolution being made: to lose weight. Therefore, these cinnamon stars are a low-carb and sugar-free version of this classic sweet.
The recipe for low-carb cinnamon star cookies does not use regular sugar, but a sugar alternative. I list xylitol or coconut sugar, as they are my preferred ones and I highly recommend using one of the two. You can also use stevia if you like (in that case, double the amount) or erythritol. Be careful with the latter, as it can have a laxative effect.
These low-carb cinnamon star cookies are best for quick consumption, although you can of course also store them. In that case, as they tend to get hard relatively quick, store them with an apple, which will give them some moisture and thus keep them from hardening up.
At a glance
Servings: 25-30 cookies (approx. 2 baking trays)
Calories per serving: approx. 108 kcal
Preparation time: 30 min
Oven time: 11-13 min
Total time from start to finish: 45 min
4 egg whites
14 ounces (400 grams) of ground almonds
1 cup (8.5 ounces/240 grams) of powdered sugar alternative like xylitol or coconut sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla aroma or 1 vanilla pod
A pinch of salt
Preparation of low-carb cinnamon star cookies
Start by adding the egg white to a large bowl and whisk it until stiff. Sieve in the powdered sugar alternative and carefully fold it in. Place 5-6 tablespoons of the egg white/sugar blend aside in the fridge. You will need it later as a topping for the cinnamon stars. Next, fold in the almond ground, cinnamon spice, vanilla, and salt until you achieve evenness in the dough.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit/150 degrees Celsius and prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. As the dough is super sticky – and I DO mean that – we’ve gotta proceed with caution when it comes to rolling it out.
Essentially, you have two options. Place a silicon mat or a large sheet of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter, drizzle a bit of powdered sugar alternative on top, then lay the dough on it and either wrap the kitchen roll with plastic wrap or place a large sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough. I tend to opt for wrapping the kitchen roll. Btw, if you don’t have a kitchen roll, use a water or wine bottle. Roll out the dough until it is about ¼ inch/0.5-1 centimeter-thick.
Now you have a tough choice to make: which cookie cutter shape will it be? The traditional star shape, a Christmas tree, a reindeer, an elephant, or all of them in rotation? Cut out the cookies and place them on the baking trays. One great hack to avoid the dough sticking to the cookie cutter is setting it in water in between cookie cutting. Afterwards, use a cooking brush, apply the cold egg white from the fridge as a topping, and then bake the cookies for 11 minutes if you have 30 cookies or 13 minutes if you have 25 (as they are a little larger and thus need a bit longer).
When you take the cookies out of the oven, let them cool down on a cooling rack. They should be ready for serving after only 15 minutes.
Image gallery on how to prepare low-carb cinnamon star cookies
America embodies diversity like no other nation does. Diversity of people for sure, but also the incredible diversity in food. Not only can you find basically any cuisine from any culture around the world thanks to all kinds people migrating to the US from around the globe and bringing their tastiest food with them, you can find the whole range of those international dishes – from truly authentic down to the T to options with an American twist. Think Spagetti Bolognese vs. Spagetti with meat balls. Moreover, the United States in and by itself is home to some amazing variety of specifically American food that blows your mind. Some of it is available nationwide, others are very much a local speciality. From sea to shining sea and from the mountains to the prarie to the oceans white with foam, every part of the US comes with its own tasty wonders. Like Creole food from Louisiana or clam chowder and lobster roll from New England and of course all the native American food like fried green tomatoes.
Don’t forget: While the 4th of july is all about independence, food is and should always be the exception. It doesn’t like to be independent. Therefore, don’t be cruel, eat lots of it together. Food gets lonely in your stomach, if you don’t allow several dishes to hang out there in groups.
Chewy chocolate chip cookies – the reason why we do not need to wait for the afterlife to experience heaven. One of the best compliments I ever received was being called a “warm, soft chocolate chip cookie.” Now, why did I consider such an expression to be a compliment? Well, they embody coziness and simply make you feel happy. It’s like food is giving you a big, loving, metaphorical hug.
These extra chewy chocolate chip cookies are best served warm and with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (with marshmallows on top)… ohhhhhh the indulgence… hmmmm.
There are several ways to make sure your cookies are chewy and soft. The trick to making your cookies turn out chewy is melted butter. As a rule of thumb, melting the butter makes baked goods chewier, while room temperature butter leads to typical cake texture, while cold, a.k.a. butter straight from the fridge, ensures the dough doesn’t spread out and it is thus great for pastries.
To avoid ending up with rock-hard cookies, but ones that are soft and fluffy, only bake them for the exact time listed below. You will think that they are still waaaay to undone when you take them out of the oven, but give them 5 minutes to cool down and you will find that they have magically solidified, while still being perfectly soft.
I usually make a larger mostly a double batch of cookie dough and then freeze them. Thereby, we can make fresh cookies whenever we feel like it. This is probably my own personal equivilant of preparing for the hibernation month a.k.a. winter. Just like a squirrel or a hedgehog, I prepare and store away delicious treats for when the snow starts to fall. There really is hardly anything better, then coming home from a day in the snow and enjoying some hot chocolate with chewy chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.
Servings: 12 * Preparation time: 10 min * Start to finish: 50 min
4 ounces (115 grams) of unsalted butter
¾ cup (150 grams) of white sugar
½ a cup (100 grams) of brown sugar
½ a teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla aroma
1 ¼ cup (150 grams) of flour
½ a teaspoon of baking soda
4 ounces (115 grams) of chocolate chips
How to prepare chewy chocolate chip cookies
The first step is melting the butter. Mix the two types of sugar, salt, vanilla and one egg in a bowl, pour the melted butter in and whisk it until the ingredients are all well blended. Afterwards, drizzle in the flour and baking soda and combine everything into an even dough. Use a mixer for those first two steps. The last step is tossing in the chocolate chips. Mix those in using a spatula.
Form 12 balls about the size of golf balls out of the cookie dough and place them in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking them. This allows the cookie dough to firm up a little and thus makes for more perfect cookies as they spread out better and more evenly during their time in the oven. Meaning they don’t melt too much which would make them spread out too thin.
When they have chilled a little, put them on a baking tray with baking paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius. Do NOT ever (no, really never!) put the cookies in the oven until it reached the right temperature. With this recipe every single minute at perfect temperature actually matters. It does with cookies in general as they only go into the oven for such a short amount of time. So when the oven has heated up to 350 F, bake them for 10 minutes.
If you use frozen cookie dough, bake the batch for 12 minutes.
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