Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Your house is probably much like mine around the holidays. There are just certain activities, recipes and other traditions that make the season for your family and friends. Without them, it just doesn't feel right.
I'm guessing that cookies are probably one of those traditions. For us, there are four must-make recipes. Any others are welcome, but just nice extras. The Thumbprints, Almond Butter Cookies, Chocolate Snowballs and Maple Walnut bars are not optional.


Thumbprints

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. softened butter
2 eggs, separated
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 /2 t. salt
1-1 1/2 c finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and salt. In a large mixer bowl, cream shortening, butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until foamy but not stiff. Roll dough into walnut sized ball, dip in egg white and roll in nuts*. Place 1" apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make a depression in center of each ball with your thumb. Bake 17-20 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Cool completely and fill the centers with buttercream icing.
*I'm going to share my trade secret for not making a complete mess at this stage. Get your materials closely lined up: egg white near your right hand, dough in front of you, nuts near your left hand and cookie sheet at your left side (or reverse it if you want). Use just your palms to roll the dough balls and drop them about four at a time into the egg. Then use only your right finger tips to coat them with the egg and drop them into the nut bowl. Then use only your left finger tips to roll them in the nuts and place them on the cookie sheet. By assigning a specific task to each part of your hands, you will keep from polluting each step with the others. You'll be able to finish quickly and not spend half the time washing your hands.

Buttercream Icing

5 1/3 T. softened butter
1/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
dash salt
4 c. powdered sugar
food coloring paste (made by Wilton-liquid FC works, but you will need much more to get the desired color. Pink is for Valentine's Day.)

In a small mixer bowl, beat butter, milk, vanilla, salt and food coloring until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until icing reaches desired consistency. You will want it to be a little stiff. After you fill the thumbprints, let the cookies sit out until just the surface of the icing dries so that it won't stick to your plastic wrap.

Almond Butter Cookies

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 egg
1 T. light corn syrup
1 t. almond extract
1/2 t. salt
3 1/3 c. flour*

Cream sugar, butter, shortening, egg, syrup and extract. Gradually add salt and flour and mix until just combined.
Now you have options. You know those clay cookie molds like the Brown Bag Cookie Molds? This dough works really well with them. Follow the mold instructions. Bake at 350* until the edges just begin to show a hint of browning.
You can also roll this dough out and make cut out cookies. Or you can use it in a cookie press. *If you use a cookie press, cut the flour down by about 1/2 cup so that the dough is soft enough to use with the press. I'm partial to the cookie press. What slacker wouldn't be?

Chocolate Snowballs

3 c. flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. softened butter
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325*. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa. In a large mixer bowl, cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Slowly add flour mixture and blend until dry and crumbly. With your hands, work the dough until a ball forms and the sides of the bowl come clean. Roll the dough into small balls and place 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. You should get 4 1/2-5 dozen cookies. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until outside of dough is dry but inside is still soft. Cool on pan. While just barely still warm, roll the cookies in powdered sugar. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.

Maple Walnut Bars (These are DH's personal favorites.)

2 c. flour
1/2 t. soda
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. real maple syrup
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 325*. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and soda. In large mixer bowl, cream together sugars, syrup, egg and vanilla. Add flour and blend until just combined. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan and bake 45-50 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely and then frost. Store in fridge.

Maple Frosting

1/2 c softened butter
2 oz. softened cream cheese
1 T. brown sugar
3 T. maple syrup
6 T. powdered sugar

Cream all ingredients in a small mixer bowl and frost bars.

Snickerdoodles

1 c. shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

4 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

In a mixer bowl cream together shortening, sugar, and eggs. In separate bowl, whisk flour soda, salt and cream of tartar. Don't make the mistake of thinking the cream of tartar is optional unless you want nice little concrete circles on your cookie tray. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture and blend well. The dough will be crumbly. With your hands, work the dough until it forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are clean. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so. When chilled, form walnut sized balls of dough and roll them in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place 1 1/2 " apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400* 8-10 minutes. You do not want them to brown.

**Just in case you're wondering, these are all handwritten recipes in my very own personal stash, and therefore fair game. ;)

2 comments:

  1. Gosh, I'm kinda glad we don't live closer...I think I'd weigh quite a bit more with all the cooking you do, my friend!

    You're amazing! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You know what they say...Never trust a skinny cook. ;)

    S

    ReplyDelete

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