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Lea Berman’s White House Christmas recipes

Adapted from Donna Hay’s The New Classics.
Serves: makes 12 cookies
Prep time: one hour
 
For the cookie:
12 ounces dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
2/3 cup superfine sugar (just process regular sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds to get superfine texture)
¼ cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup flour
¼ cup baking powder
 
For the peanut butter filling:
1/2 cup confectioners, or powdered , sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup dried roasted peanuts, processed into peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cream
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place half of the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan at low heat and stir until melted.  Put eggs, sugar, and vanilla into a mixing bowl and beat for 15 minutes until smooth.  Add chocolate mixture, the rest of the chocolate, and the flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl and combine.  Allow mixture to stand for ten minutes.
 
On a baking sheet covered with parchment or a Silpat sheet, spoon the cookie batter, one tablespoon at a time.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cookies will have cracks in them.  Allow cookies to cool completely.
 
Put dried peanuts in food processor for one minute; it will smooth into peanut butter.
 
For the frosting, put sugar, butter, peanut butter – both the creamy peanut butter and the peanut butter made from dried peanuts – and vanilla, into a mixing bowl and beat for six minutes, until fluffy.  Add cream and beat another two minutes.  Spread half of one cookie with the frosting and place another cookie on top of the frosting to create a sandwich cookie.
 
Makes 12 servings, 2 quarts
 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
6 egg yolks
3 cups half & half
1 cup bourbon
1 cup brandy
1 cup rum
½ pint whipped cream for garnish
Freshly grated nutmeg
Place sugar, vanilla and egg yolks in blender. Blend well and add half and half.
 
Add bourbon, brandy and rum. Stir until well mixed. Pour into serving bowl. Whip cream and pile on top of eggnog. Dust top with nutmeg and serve.
 
To fill our punchbowl I had to make a double batch.
 
Notes: Some members of the White House Residence staff recommend making the eggnog days in advance and allowing it to rest in the refrigerator until just before serving, to enrich the flavors. Others have suggested the addition of a pint of eggnog ice cream be placed in the punchbowl and allowed to melt into the eggnog as it’s served. I’ve tried letting the eggnog rest for several days and it was even stronger than a freshly-made batch. Adding eggnog ice cream would be fine, as long as it’s a good eggnog ice cream.
 
This recipe contains raw eggs and should not be consumed by pregnant women, or anyone whose health could be compromised.
 
Prep time: 45 minutes, plus thirty minutes to allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator, and one hour to allow the chocolate to dry on the cookie.
Serves: 2-4 dozen cookies, depending upon the size of your cookie cutter
 
1 cup sugar
¾ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla or the seeds of ½ of a vanilla bean
3 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon coarse salt, plus salt for sprinkling on chocolate
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar, finely chopped
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until they are well combined.  Add salt, vanilla,  and flour, a half cup at a time until the ingredients are blended. Dough will be crumbly.  Turn dough out of mixing bowl on to a piece of floured plastic wrap and form into a disk.  Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate dough for at least thirty minutes.
 
On a floured surface, roll out dough to a quarter-inch thickness and cut out with cookie cutters of your preference.  I made two sizes: 1/1/2 inches and 2 inches, and it took 9 minutes for the smaller cookies, and 11 minutes for the larger ones to bake.  Remove from oven before cookies begin to brown at the edges.
 
While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat.  If you don’t have a double boiler, use a large frying pan with simmering water in it, and set a heatproof bowl with the chocolate into the water, so that the chocolate melts without scorching.
 
When the chocolate is hot and melted, and the cookies are cool, dip half the cookie into the chocolate and place cookies on a cooling rack with some waxpaper underneath to catch the excess chocolate.  Allow cookies to sit one hour until chocolate is completely firm.  Note: if you put the cookies into the fridge to harden faster, they will lose their shiny chocolate-y appearance, which can be a bit disappointing – though it won’t affect the taste.
 
When chocolate is nearly firm, sprinkle a few crystals of sea salt on to the chocolate-covered side of the cookies.
 
Cookies should keep for three to five days.
 
Serves: 6 biscuits
 
Prep time: 30 minutes, including baking time
 
1 ¼ cups of flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder together.
 
Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Using fingers, combine butter and dry ingredients into a dough. Roll out and cut with biscuit cutter.
 
Bake on silpat-covered baking sheet for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve immediately.

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