The group of 15-20 ladies hasn't changed much over the years. For some of us, it's the only time we see each other, so there's lots of catching up to do. And nothing at Drenda's house is ever boring.
First, her decorations are to-die-for. Drenda's house is just a normal house. Small, but oh so cozy. And the things this woman does with it are amazing. We all spend the first twenty minutes just roaming to see how she's decorated everything. I mean, even her kitchen sink gets special treatment. She just has a knack for merchandising.
Aside from the cookies and decorations, we have an ornament exchange. Honestly, I think this is a higher priority than the cookies. Everyone takes choosing their ornament very seriously, hoping to bring (and receive) that one ornament that everyone is fighting over. And some of these ladies can be cut-throat when it comes to stealing.
As for the cookies, this year I brought Mexican Chipotle Chocolate Bites. Once again, I find myself with the need to explain that THESE ARE NOT HOT. Actually, they're kind of interesting. When you bite into them, all you taste is yummy cookie. Then, a couple minutes later, you get this nice warm feeling in the back of your throat. Not one person who tried them commented on them being hot. However, they did like that warm feeling afterward.
So here we go. You're gonna need:
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup shortening
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ - 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chopped Mexican-style sweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet)
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup Mexican-style sweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup chocolate, the cream, and butter.
Cook over low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.
Transfer to a medium bowl. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until nearly firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine butter, shortening, and cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer, medium to high speed, for 30 seconds.
Add brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chipotle powder. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.
Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in flour until combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in ½ cup chopped chocolate.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Flatten balls until ¼ inch thick. If desired, sprinkle with additional chipotle powder (I did not do this).
Bake 6-8 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely.
For your filling, beat nearly firm chocolate with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. DO NOT OVERBEAT. I learned the hard way that when the color goes from a dark brown to a light mocha color, you’re done.
Spread filling on bottoms of half of the cooled cookies. Top with remaining cookies, bottom sides down. Don't they look pretty? They're all ready for Drenda's
Storage: Layer filled cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Of course, they were thrilled to be invited to a party and meet so many new friends.
Yes, I sampled most--okay, all--of the offerings. Then Drenda gave each of us a tray to fill and take home. That's my guys' favorite part.
How's your holiday baking coming? Have you started? Are you dreading?
Come on, tell us what's up at your house.