Sometimes, the best way to wind down is to relax with something warm and delicious. Whether that’s a drink after a long day at work, or devouring delicious cookies, a sweet snack might be the perfect pick me up Here are three recipes for warm treats to help you get through the winter months.
Bourbon Truffles (approx 20 truffles)
This recipe is relatively easy to follow, make, and eat. The only gadget you really need (that you might not already have) is a food processor – here is a regular sized one. The one I use to make these is a much smaller version, but has held up quite well. Although it doesn’t work for more heavy duty recipes, it works for something like this because I can still process the food in smaller portions.
My only real piece of advice when making these is to be careful – they are ridiculously delicious. You will want to eat every single one of them by yourself, but anyone you share them with will want more. Depending on how large you roll them, they can also look unassumingly small; this will inevitably result in someone popping a whole truffle into their mouth, and getting surprised by the amount of bourbon each truffle tastes like it has. (Side note: this is also hilarious to watch, so warn people only if you don’t want a show.)
- 6 oz (2 1/2 cups) vanilla wafers
- 1 cup of pecans (you could probably use whatever nut you prefer, but its recommended you toast them for 5 to 10 minutes before processing, as it adds to the flavor)
- 6 tbs bourbon (for best results, use one you’d prefer to drink with anyway)
- 3 tbs corn syrup (lacking corn syrup, you can use a light, sweet honey instead)
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- 1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup granulated (regular) sugar (you may use less)
- small frying pan
- food processor
- large bowl
- spoon or small cookie scooper
- 2 large, flat plates (I like to use two 9 inch baking pans)
- Toast the pecans for approximately five to ten minutes, until they get slightly darker and smell delicious. Pulse the vanilla wafers and pecans in the food processor until well combined (they should look similar to grains of sand). Pour them into the large bowl.
- Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, bourbon and corn syrup (or honey, if you prefer) to the bowl with the nuts and wafers.
- Using your spoon, mix the ingredients together until well combined. It should resemble sticky, wet sand.
- Using a little less than a spoonful at a time (around a tablespoon apiece), roll into balls. They should be relatively firm. They will be sticky enough to stay as a ball and not fall apart, but not so wet as to stick all over your fingers. If the mixture is too dry, try adding a little more bourbon. If it’s too wet, try pulsing a few more wafers and/or pecans, depending on taste.
- Spread the granulated sugar out across one of the plates (or baking pans). Roll each bourbon truffle in the sugar, and then place on the other plate. This makes around 20 truffles.
- To firm up the truffles, refrigerate for at least an hour. After this, you can store them outside the fridge or keep them inside the fridge. They are delicious for at least a week in my experience.
Okay, okay. At this point, it’s probably obvious that my spirit of choice in the winter is bourbon. Bourbon and eggnog, maybe some bourbon in your hot chocolate… It’s a great drink for these long, cold, dark nights. This drink in particular is also my go to home remedy when I have a cold (which tends to happen most winters).
If your throat is feeling dry and scratchy, or if you’re just feeling a little chilly, I would strongly recommend a hot toddy. This is one of those drinks that I think everyone over a certain age is familiar with, but not enough of us younger folk know about (at least, I only learned about this drink when a parent recommended it for my nasty cold).
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- tea (I prefer black – a traditional English breakfast)
- 1 tbs honey
- microwave or teapot
- Heat the water and steep the tea a little longer than normal (I find that a strong black tea works best, but that’s just my personal preference).
- Add the honey and bourbon and stir to combine. If you don’t have a jigger to measure out the bourbon, it’s okay to guess! Just throw a splash or two in the tea, depending on how strong you like your drinks.
Chocolate Lava Cookies (approx 20-24 cookies)
I call these chocolate lava cookies because when I see them I just can’t help but think they look like magma bursting through cracks in the ground. Delicious, delicious, chewy, chocolate magma. A warning in advance, however; this recipe isn’t as easy to make as the truffle recipe above, and will definitely require you to get your hands dirty. But boy is it worth it. These cookies never fail to impress. Every time I make these cookies, people will look and them and ask, “How did you get to look so perfect?”
Honestly, the first time I made them, I had my doubts on how well the powdered sugar decoration would hold up after baking. I doubted that these round, powdered chocolate balls would ever become beautiful cookies. But not only do they look good when you take them out of the oven, they taste amazing. They have a chewy texture to them and an almost molasses-esque sweetness (this, I believe, is thanks to the brown sugar). Make these cookies when you want to impress, but make them while watching something. It helps when you need to roll up two dozen chocolate balls.
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 4 tbs butter (preferably unsalted)
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (light or dark, both work just as well as the other)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 2 cookie sheets
- parchment paper
- three bowls (one small and microwavable, one medium, one large)
- 2 plates (again, I prefer 9 inch pie pans)
- As is traditional with cookie recipes, start by lining the cookie sheets with parchment paper, and preheating the oven to 325 degrees.
- Microwave the unsweetened chocolate and butter together in the small, microwavable bowl at half power for about two minutes (stopping to stir every 30 seconds or so) until completely melted.
- In the medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In the large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar with the eggs and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
- Using the spatula, fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, meaning, put the flour in the brown sugar mixture and then (don’t stir!) try to cover up the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. This is called folding. Do this until there are no dry streaks of flour. You may have to dig at the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. The dough will be very thick and sticky.
- Once mixed, let sit for 10 minutes. Don’t wait too much longer than this, as it can impact how well the cookies rise.
- Pour the granulated sugar out onto one plate, and pour the powdered sugar onto the other plate. Working with one heaping spoonful at a time (around two tablespoons apiece), roll the dough into balls, then roll in the granulated sugar, then roll in the powdered sugar, then place on the baking sheet. You should have between ten and twelve balls per sheet.
- Bake for 12 minutes total, but rotate halfway through. Let them cool for at least five minutes on their sheets, then let them finish cooling on a wire rack. Or eat immediately. I’m just here to tell you how to make them, not how to eat them.
Note: Your fingers will get incredibly sticky and delicious while rolling these cookies! I strongly recommend taking a break after filling the first sheet, licking your fingers clean and washing your hands, and then finishing the second sheet.