This week, the Pittsburgh Today Live kitchen is full of delectable smells as Rania Harris is baking up some holiday-themed treats!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ancho Chile Pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using your Cuisinart stand mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and vanilla in large bowl at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.
Combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, Ancho Chile pepper, salt and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar to coat completely. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ginger Snaps

¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening and sugar and then add the molasses and the egg. Add sifted dry ingredients and beat till smooth roll and coat with granulated sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes

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