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Sweeten season with two merry cookies

If you’re only going to make two cookie recipes this holiday season, may I humbly suggest these two scrumptious cookies? One is the ultimate deep rich chocolate cookie; the second is the ultimate buttery soft vanilla cookie. They are so perfectly compatible yet totally different. And the cherry on top is one uses three egg whites and the other three egg yolks. It’s like it was meant to be.

I don’t often go crazy for cookies, as I’m more of a savory treat kind of gal. (Open a bag of barbecue potato chips and I’ll follow you anywhere.) But these cookies! I love everything about them. I think it’s because they each have an exceptionally pure and assertive main ingredient, namely chocolate and vanilla, an appealing mix of textures and neither are overly sweet. They’re also inexpensive to make.

In the chocolate cookies, I used dark chocolate chips and dark cocoa powder and got an intense bittersweet dark chocolate flavor. If that’s not your cup of tea, (um, cocoa?) feel free to substitute semisweet or even milk chocolate chips.

They are the perfect marriage of a chocolate truffle and a cookie. A little chewy, with crispy edges and the centers are creamy like a chocolate truffle. And they are gluten free.

The other cookie is very vanilla, and I don’t mean plain. This isn’t your ordinary sugar cookie. This cookie is warmly fragrant, softly crisp, crunchy and crackly at the edges and buttery rich and chewy inside.

Both these cookies will stay fresh for up to seven days in an airtight container, stored at room temperature. Homemade cookies make wonderful gifts and both recipes travel well. Just be sure to save a few for Santa, I hear he likes one of each. Enjoy the holiday season!

ULTIMATE DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES

What you’ll need:

1½ cups bittersweet or dark chocolate chips (about 10 ounces), divided

2½ cups powdered sugar, divided

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Special Dark)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

3 large egg whites, room temperature

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in microwave, stirring each 30 second interval until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

In medium bowl, whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt to blend, set aside.

Using a stand mixer, (ideally) or a hand mixer and large bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar and continue beating until it’s smooth, fluffy and creamy. On low speed, gradually beat dry ingredients into the meringue mixture. Now, stir in lukewarm melted chocolate and ½ cup chocolate chips (I chopped the ½ cup chips to make them smaller so they’d distribute evenly, but you could use mini chocolate chips here, if you have them).

FYI: This dough will become very stiff. Really.

Place the remaining ½ cup powdered sugar in bowl. Roll 1 scant tablespoon dough into ball, then roll the ball in powdered sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10-12 minutes.

Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to rack to cool.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

ULTIMATE SOFT VANILLA COOKIES

What you’ll need:

2½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1½ cups granulated sugar, divided

3 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, (ideally) or a hand mixer and large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract. Gradually, add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Be mindful not to overmix this or your cookies won’t be super soft.

Roll dough by the tablespoon, about the size of a walnut, then roll each ball in granulated sugar and place onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until tops of cookies start to crack.

Cool for five minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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