Make a Cookie Gift

April 15, 2009

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Happy Earth Day (April 22) from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

If you’re on a budget, but still want to make an impressive gift, homemade cookies are the answer. Everyone loves cookies, and even if you’re not the world’s best baker, they’ll love the idea that you cared enough to make a special gift just for them. This recipe for rich, brownie-like cookies is pretty hard to mess up, so tie on your apron and get busy. Present your creations in a pretty tin, boxcookie jar, or simply tied in a stack with ribbon and tucked into a small shopping bag. Or, make several logs of different cookie doughs, wrap them in parchment, attach baking directions and deliver them in a pretty basket. Your recipient can have warm, freshly baked cookies any time he wants by just slicing and baking a few at a time. The rest can be stored in the freezer until the next cookie craving hits. Who wouldn’t love that!

BROWNIE COOKIES

These cookies taste like skinny, round brownies. Substitute chocolate chips, peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips for the white chunks, if you like. During the winter holidays I make them with peppermint chocolate chips. For the white chocolate chunks used here, I buy good quality white chocolate bars and chop them myself.

(Makes 18 to 20 cookies)

Ingredients

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup flour

¾ cup white chocolate chunks

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the cocoa, then the flour. Stir in the white chocolate chunks.
  2. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheet(s), spacing them about 2 inches apart. (Alternatively, form the dough into a log, wrap in waxed paper, and freeze until ready to bake. Thaw briefly before slicing and baking.)
  3. Bake until the tops look dry, but cookies are still soft, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or frozen up to 1 month.

FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!

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Pomegranate Martini

October 8, 2008

For some, cleaning out the attic is an annual fall ritual. For me, it’s an every-ten-year-or-so event. Yesterday afternoon, I felt strong enough to tackle the beast. I marched bravely up the stairs armed only with a dust buster and some heavy duty trash bags for hauling out all the tons of stuff I would be throwing away. Alas, I didn’t get very far. I stumbled across these crazy martini glasses and got way, way off track.

 

Many years ago, as the newly appointed creative director of Food & Wine magazine, I was determined to shake up the world of food magazines. At one of my early cover photo shoots the prop stylist showed up with these glasses. The photographer, a wild man named Peter Johansky, instantly fell in love with the glasses and shot a brilliant cover showcasing them alongside a plate of lobster. It was considered very cutting edge at the time. I guess I fell in love with them too, because somehow they wound up in my bag after the shoot, instead of going back to the store that had loaned them.

 

Let’s see. Clean the attic, or whip up a drink recipe worthy of these vintage glasses? Duh.

 

Here’s the recipe. Nothing really special about it. Just an updated classic for a pair of historic glasses. I’ve also included a list of storebought antipasto items that you can arrange on platters in a matter of moments to create instant cocktail party noshes. Because when you taste this drink, you’re gonna want to throw a party.

 

Need a gift? Visit Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets and buy lots and lots of gifts so I can afford to hire a professional to clean my attic!

 

Pomegranate Martini

(Makes 1 drink)

Often a tablespoon or two of simple syrup is added to a drink like this, but I prefer it without the sweetness. Either way, it is a winner.

 

2 ounces top shelf vodka

4 ounces pomegranate juice

1/2 lime

 

Fill martini shaker three quarters full of ice. Add vodka, pomegranate juice, and a generous squeeze of lime juice. Shake for about 30 seconds and pour into glass. Garnish with a twist of lime peel.

  

Antipasto Platters

All the antipasto items listed here can be purchased from the grocery, deli, gourmet food store or bakery.

 

Choose antipasto items that appeal to you and arrange them on platters. You can do this up to two hours ahead and cover them with plastic wrap until serving time. (No need to refrigerate.) Be sure to set out plenty of little plates, forks and napkins so that people can serve themselves.

 

Storebought antipasto choices:

Thinly sliced soppressata, salami, or pepperoni

Bocconcini or sliced fresh mozzarella

Assorted olives

Grilled mixed vegetables

Stuffed grape leaves

Hummus

Jarred artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry

Jarred roasted red or yellow peppers, drained and patted dry

Jarred pepperoncini or pickled hot peppers, drained and patted dry

Jarred marinated mushrooms

Jarred Caponata

Canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained well

Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes

Assorted tapenades

Baguette slices, breadsticks, focaccia and assorted crackers

We recently received the following email:

 

“Out of the thousands of recipes Food & Wine has published over the years, I’m delighted to inform you that your recipe, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies, that originally appeared in 2003 has been chosen as one of Food & Wine’s 30 Favorite Fast Recipes and is tentatively scheduled to be published in our September 2008 Anniversary issue. We would love to republish your recipe in our feature, and need your permission in order to include it.”

 

Of course we agreed, but you don’t have to wait until September. 

Here is the recipe:

CRUNCHY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

It’s not a misprint. There is no flour in these cookies! To make an extra special treat for a child’s birthday party, sandwich a scoop of ice cream between two cookies to create better-than-storebought ice cream sandwiches. Experiment with all your favorite flavors. I like chocolate ice cream, vanilla frozen yogurt, or raspberry sorbet. 

(Makes 2 dozen cookies)

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

 

    * 1 cup smooth peanut butter

    * 1 cup sugar

    * 1 teaspoon baking soda

    * 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

    * 2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts (optional)

    * 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional) 

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter with the sugar, baking soda and egg. Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips. Roll tablespoons of the dough into 24 balls. Set the balls on 2 baking sheets, and using a fork, make a crosshatch pattern on each cookie. Bake for 15 minutes, shifting the baking sheets from front to back and bottom to top, until the cookies are lightly browned and set. Let cool on a wire rack.

We were tickled to find that news of our Ugly Gift Contest showed up in the famous “On the Radar” section of Manhattan User’s Guide. Thanks, guys!

 

For more gift and party ideas visit www.elizabethwgiftbaskets.com