Getting into the Christmas Spirits

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies 3

I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit over the weekend by making some Christmas versions of my M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies… Aren’t they pretty? I love how you can see some of the Christmas designs (like the candy cane below)…

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

Edit 11/12 - I’m sending these cookies over to the Eat Christmas Cookies event, hosted by Susan at FoodBlogga… I only just noticed this event today, but better late than never!

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies Makes 30

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies 4

Quite simple really, just follow the original M&M Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, but use Christmas M&Ms instead of regular ones (or pick all the red and green coloured ones out of a large packet and you should have around the right amount).

Minty Double Chocolate M&M Cookies Makes 30

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies 5

I stole this idea from a fellow Taste.com.au forum member, FoodiePep. Basically you just use the Mint Chocolate M&Ms (I think they are limited edition so you might need to make these sooner rather than later!) and add 2Tbsp cocoa. I didn’t think they were quite minty enough, so I would probably replace the vanilla essence with pepperment essence next time (if I make these again before they stop selling them… I suppose they could just be made with normal M&Ms and pepperment essence… or just the green ones picked out!).

I cooked some of the cookies and froze the rest in uncooked balls to make later to make the Christmas cheer last longer :)

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies 6

But the Christmas Spirit isn’t the only spirit I have been getting into lately… I have been brewing my own homemade vanilla essence!

Here it is after only a couple of days…

Homemade Vanilla Essence Week 1

…and a week later…

Homemade Vanilla Essence Week 2

…and this is what it looks like today, after 3 weeks of brewing

Homemade Vanilla Essence Week 3

I had never thought of making my own vanilla essence until I stumbled across a thread about it on the Taste forums… it is REALLY simple too, you just split some vanilla beans and throw them in a bottle of vodka… leave it to brew for a few months in a coold, dark place and you have vanilla essence – a massive bottle of it! I used 12 beans in each of my 700ml vodka bottles (others in the forum have used as little as 6-8 beans, but my research said to use 7 per cup of alcohol… so I compromised)… I made 2 bottles, one to split up for Christmas presents to go in our family hampers and the other for me to keep…

If you want to make some for yourself (or for gifts), you can get good quality vanila beans on ebay for a reasonable price rather than paying $5 per bean for inferior quality ones at the supermarket… I got around 50 beans for $20 including postage from this seller… make sure you buy madagascar beans because they are better from what I have read…

I jumped the gun and decided to use my essence in the Christmas cookies on the weekend… it already smells REALLY nice, but it obviously isn’t ready to be used yet, there was a slightly odd taste to my cookies… I think I will leave it for another couple of months before I use it again, like I am meant to!

Christmas M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of the 3 recipes I have chosen to challenge the other Taste.com.au forum members for the Cooks Club Challenge that I am hosting at the moment… feel free to join us!

11 thoughts on “Getting into the Christmas Spirits

  1. home made vanilla essence sounds impressive – is it alcoholic then – although I guess the alchol gets baked away? And it would add great flavour to your baking!

  2. Johanna – the vanilla essence you buy at the supermarket is also alcoholic… that is just how it is made too, by putting vanilla beans in alcohol, take a look at the ingredients list on your vanilla essence in the cupboard, it will be water, alcohol and vanilla beans… in fact they bought a new policy in at the supermarkets earlier this year, because kids were apparently buying up on vanilla (&other) essence to get drunk on… so now when we scan them it comes up with a date of birth screen (just like when we scan cigarettes or alcohol itself)… which is kind of sad because now all the kiddies out there can’t buy vanilla essence to bake their mum a surprise cake or anything!! lol…

    Foodista – I hope you are talking about the cookies & not the essence (or you have an adult aged son & nephew!)

  3. Tara i am glad that you found about the event.
    Now as you ar enot hosting the event i am gonna get all these entrie from you :-)
    I too made vanilla essence at home.
    I still have to post for my event. I didn’t had so much of vanilla beans…….
    Will post mine before the event deadline.
    Thankyou again for sending all the entries.

  4. You should know that you don’t have to use the insides of the beans – we’ve been building up our store for a year now, just adding the split pods to the same old bottle of vodka, and every time we add a new pod, the level comes up a bit, keeping all of the pods submerged.

    We did have to empty everything out & pull all of the pods out, a couple of months ago, though – just ’cause it was too full of spent pods. So, we added some new vodka, and began again. It doesn’t even have to be dark in colour to give it the good flavour. Yum!

  5. I used to love making M&M cookies with my mom at Christmas time, now my sweet nieces get to enjoy doing that with her. Yours are so big and chock-full of candy–they’re irresistible! BTW–Happy Cook at My Kitchen Treasures is hosting a Homemade Christmas gifts event, so if you’d like, you could submit your vanilla essence. That is a wonderful gift! Cheers!

  6. Susan – Thanks for adding me to your round-up… I have already sent both of these to the Happy Cook for her Christmas Gifts Round-up, but Thanks anyway :)