(This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Hershey's.)
Here was my assignment: go to the Hershey Kiss Baking site, choose three recipes to try, and then eat the results. OH, MY LIFE IS SO HARD! HOW I SUFFER FOR MY ART!
Choosing which three recipes to try was challenging (WOE! WOE IS ME!). Kisses Peanut Butter Pie? Kisses Caramel Flan? Double Kisses Chocolate Cupcakes? Rainbow Rocky Road Brownies? Chocolate Fluted Kisses Cups? I wish I could have searched by kind of Kisses, because in searching through all the recipes for a recipe that would go with the Kisses I had on hand, I had to drool a LOT into my keyboard.
I went with trying three different version of those little round cookies with a Kiss in the middle that I believe are on every single holiday cookie plate ever born and with good reason: cute AND delicious.
The kids and I like to bake assortment plates for their teachers at the holidays: it's a good way to show the teachers we put some effort into their gifts in addition to signing the credit slip for their gift cards, and it's something the kids can do a lot of the work on themselves. A charmingly kid-misshapen cookie tastes just as good as a perfect one but means more.
We also like to bake for far-away family. We mail a box of gifts to my brother and his family across the country, and I like to add some holiday baking in there too, to make it more...holiday-ish. Like I'm not just sending a box of presents, I'm sending a box of HOLIDAY.
I have one older relative who's on her own now and doesn't bake for just herself, so a little treat box with one or two of each kind of cookie is just the thing: it's not hard for us to do when we're doing a bunch of other platters, but it's a way to show we're thinking of her, and it takes away the mental picture I have of her sitting in her "no sense decorating it for just me" house, not having any holiday treats because there's "no sense baking for just me." It's the kind of thing I hope someone does for me if I'm an older lady on my own someday (take notes, children).
I've read people who knit or sew saying that when they make something as a gift for someone else, they think of that person the whole time they're doing the project: they, if you'll pardon the slightly gaggy sentiment, "put love in every stitch" (sorry, I did warn you). Though such a sentiment wouldn't be my style to say, I DO feel that way when I bake for someone else: I think of that person while I'm measuring and mixing and baking, and it makes it more than just "a plate of cookies"---it's like I'm giving them my work, and my thoughts, and....fine, I guess I am the sort of person who says that sort of sentiment. I BAKE LOVE INTO EVERY BITE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW??
So ANYWAY, this was an excellent opportunity to audition some new
The first recipe I tried was Kisses Chocolate Chip Cookies. You make what is basically a small batch of eggless, leavening-less chocolate-chip cookie dough, and you wrap lumps of it around Hershey Kisses and bake them. And oh, they are sooooo good. The cookie part is crisp and buttery like shortbread, and then there is a big happy surprise of chocolate in the middle.
These reminded me so much of a care package my cousin Lee sent me after the twins were born. She included a big bag of cookies very similar to these, and they just about killed me dead with love and butter. Of all the gifts we got, those cookies are what I remember best. (It was the love! baked into every bite!)
- I had a little trouble getting the knack of drizzling and eventually settled for something more like dolloping.
- As an experiment I made some of the cookies with Meltaway Kisses---and I preferred them. The Meltaway Kiss flattened out a little more in the oven and also had a softer texture even when the cookie was completely cool.
- This recipe is even easier if you have this Oxo Good Grips cookie scoop in size small: the recipe uses "scant tablespoons" of dough, and this little dealie measures---wait for it---in scant tablespoons! So I went scoop scoop scoop and measured all the dough lumps at once. This was also the right size scoop for each of the other two recipes.
The second recipe I tried was Kisses Cocoa Cookies. They are similar to the Kisses Chocolate Chip cookies in their crispness and shortbreadiness, but they are CHOCOLATE and PECAN. Some baker's notes:
- I thought they needed just a little more cocoa--maybe another tablespoon or two.
- The recipe says to roll the cookies in powdered sugar when they're cool, but I preferred them without the powdered sugar, both in flavor and appearance (things rolled in powdered sugar seem grandmothery to me, and also they get powder on everything else in the assortment).
- The recipe says to let the dough chill until firm enough to handle, but the dough I made was firm enough to handle already, so I went ahead and used it right away.
I made some of these with regular Kisses and some with Meltaway Kisses, and again I preferred the ones with Meltaway Kisses.
Then I did an additional experiment: I set aside about...1/6th?...of the dough, and I added another couple of tablespoons of Hershey's Cocoa to it, to make it super extra dark chocolate. Then I used CANDY CANE Kisses instead of chocolate Kisses. It wasn't perfect (the extra cocoa made the dough a little dry---next time I might try decreasing the flour a little, or adding a bit of milk---and the pecans were odd with the mint so I'd leave those out if I were making them all Candy Cane), but it was a very promising experiment and worth tinkering more. I lovvvvve chocolate and mint together.
The third recipe I tried was Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies. These were the most trouble and completely worth it. It's like a chocolate brownie rolled in pecans, with white frosting and a Hershey Kiss on top. Baker's notes:
- The recipe says to let the cookies cool 5 minutes before putting the frosting on, but I recommend waiting longer: the frosting melted off mine and dripped onto the counter.
- The recipe calls for a half-cup of powdered sugar and I'd make that a nice rounded half-cup to make the frosting a little thicker.
- My thumb might have been too long and rectangular for me to make thumbprint cookies successfully, because I got more of a shallow ditch than a nice round circle imprint. Next time I might use a soda bottle top to make the impressions, to help the frosting stay in better and look prettier.
(This is after I scraped the frosting off the counter and put it back on the cookies. So, you know, next time I'll let them cool a little longer before frosting them, is what I'm saying. And looking at them now makes me want to make another batch right this minute.)
All three of these definitely passed their auditions for this year's cookie platters, and I'm really happy to have some new recipes in my arsenal. I predict the Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies will be the most electrifying (they're the ones I'd grab first, if presented with an assortment), but I think the other two are just as delicious and will TRAVEL well---a very important feature for our annual tradition of mailing treats around.
There is a giveaway here, for a $100 Visa gift card. To enter, leave a comment below answering this question: What treat says "HOLIDAYS!" to you? For me it's a chocolate-crusted pumpkin cheesecake at Thanksgiving and a Lindt chocolate Santa at Christmas.
- Sweepstakes open to individuals who, at the time of entry deadline, are legal residents of the United States and are 18 years or older.
- If you put a link to the giveaway on Twitter, you get an additional entry and can leave another comment saying so and linking to your tweet.
- If you blog about the giveaway, you get an additional entry and can leave another comment saying so and linking to your post.
- You also have SEVEN other chances to win: visit the BlogHer.com special offers page to get links to the other Hershey posts; you can leave entries on those posts, too.
- The giveaway begins December 4, 2009, and ends December 31, 2009. I'll use a random number generator to choose the winner. Make sure the email address with your comment is correct---that's what I'll use to contact you if you're the winner (after 48 hours, I have to choose a new winner).
- For the full official rules, see here: Official Rules of the Hershey's Sweepstakes