2008-12-25 / Features

Cookies and Christmas: A Match Made In Heaven

Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chips Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chips There's a good reason fitness club memberships tend to spike come January. After a holiday season spent party-hopping and letting their diets fall by the wayside, many people look to the gym as the means to helping shed those inevitable holiday pounds.

Perhaps no food is more popular around the holidays than cookies. Cookies are as much a part of the holiday season as Christmas trees, long lines at the mall and kids searching the house for presents. For those with guests to entertain this holiday season, the following recipe for "Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies" from Elinor Klivans' "The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook" (Chronicle Books) is sure to please. Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies Makes About 36 Cookies 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 6 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 large egg 11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup pecan halves 1 cup walnut halves or large pieces 1 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped roughly in half

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look slightly curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, and almonds until evenly distributed.

Use a tablespoon to drop wellrounded tablespoonfulls of dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are slightly colored, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to four days.

Choices: You can add 1 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dried apricots to the dough with the chips and nuts. White, bittersweet, or milk chocolate chips, or a combination, can be substituted for the semisweet chips.

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