Christmas cookies

I am reposting my Christmas cookie update from last year.  This is the reason that the dinners this week are on the quick and easy side – I’m doing a lot of baking.  Here are some ideas to get you inspired!

Even people who never bake the rest of the year will give it a whirl at Christmas.  It’s nice to have cookies around to give as gifts, to share with friends at impromptu get togethers or to keep your sugar level up to get you through the shopping, the wrapping and the baking.  I was busy baking this weekend and have organized these recipes from simplest to hardest.  Drop off at whatever degree of difficulty you like!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

These are classic cookies and everyone loves them.  Most people put a Hershey’s Kiss in the middle which is delicious.  A few years ago I decided to use Dove dark chocolate instead.  That made them even more popular and it also made them easier to store because the cookies are flat.  This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies so buy enough chocolate pieces – I now use a mix of the kisses and the Dove.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • approximately 60 unwrapped Hershey chocolate kisses, Dove dark chocolate squares or other chocolate candy

Soften the butter.  Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Put the brown sugar and granulated sugar in a mixer and beat.  Add butter and peanut butter and beat until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla and beat.  Gradually beat in flour at low speed.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour or up to overnight.  Preheat oven to 375.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and space about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  Use your finger to make a depression in the middle of each cookie.  Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly browned (you’ll get better results if you rotate the cookie sheets from bottom to top racks halfway through).  Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheets for 2 – 3 minutes.  Place a chocolate candy in the depression of each cookie and remove to a rack to cool.  These will keep well in a tin or container.

Oatmeal Lace cookies

These are very simple to make – the only time consuming part is because of the size of the cookies, only 6 fit on a cookie sheet so it takes a while to cook them.  You can use that time to be mixing the batter for one of the above cookies!

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3 TB flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Cover cookie sheets in aluminum foil – shiny side up.  Drop batter onto foil by teaspoons.  These spread out and become very thin so don’t try to get more than 6 cookies on a sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8 – 10 minutes.  I then slide the foil onto the counter and let them cool there for a couple of minutes and then remove.  (You can reuse the foil for subsequent batches.)

Sambuca Cookies

One of the few flavors that I have never cared for is licorice.  In spite of that and the fact that Sambuca has a strong anise taste, I love these cookies.  They puff up nicely and always look pretty.  They are a little messy to make but not difficult.

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Sambuca
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler until smooth.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, walnuts, Sambuca and sugar.  Stir in flour mixture and chocolate.  Chill covered for about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350.  Pour confectioner’s sugar on a plate.  Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and then roll in confectioners sugar until well coated.  Arrange on lightly buttered cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10 – 12 minutes and cool on racks.

Chocolate Toffee cookies

This is another extremely popular cookie.  I made these for the bake table at our church bazaar for many years and the woman who ran the bake table told me that she had people come in and ask for these cookies specifically from prior years.

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 2 TB sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TB dark rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 package Heath bar bits
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add egg, rum and vanilla and beat.  Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and stir into butter mixture.  Add Heath bits and almonds and mix.

Preheat oven to 350.  Use a tablespoon to drop batter onto baking sheets- about 2 inches apart.  Bake about 10 – 12 minutes and allow to cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute.  Cool cookies on a rack.

Mexican chocolate cookies

I made these for the first time this year.  They are delicious.

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and beat to combine.  Gradually add flour mixture with mixture on low speed and beat until combined.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder

Combine in a small bowl.

Form dough into balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake about 10 minutes at 400.  Let cool on racks.

Ginger Cookies

This makes a very large number of very small cookies.  I like anything with ginger to taste spicy so I increase the amounts of the spices – if you like yours tamer, you might want to reduce a little bit.  The key to these is to keep them very small – each year when I make them, I take out my 1/8 teaspoon and use it to measure the size of the first couple – they look so little that it doesn’t seem like they are going to work but they turn out perfectly.  Use a nonstick baking pan or prepare to scrape the cookies off with a saw.

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 1/4  tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (grease your measuring cup with butter before measuring)
  • 12 TB softened butter.

Sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt.  In a mixing bowl, cream together brown sugar, egg, molasses and butter.  Add flour mixture and beat on low speed.

Scrape dough into a 1 gallon resealable freezer bag.  I find the easiest way to do this is to put the bag in a large measuring cup or bowl with the top open.  Squeeze the air out and close it securely.  Cut a very small piece off of one corner and use the bag to pipe small dots about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.  Don’t worry if the batter makes little peaks – they will flatten as they cook.  As noted above, do use a 1/8 teaspoon as a guide for size.  Bake about 5 minutes.  Let cookies cool for 3 – 5 minutes on sheet and then move to wire racks to cool.  (Cookies will stick to each other if they are too close together.)  Store in a tin or airtight container.  Warning – these are addictive and because they are small, it’s easy to eat a lot of them!

Chocolate Peanut Butter pinwheels

This one is my husband’s favorite.

Filling

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

Melt together over low heat, stirring regularly.

For dough

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until well combined.

Halve the dough and roll out each half into a rectangle between two sheets of wax paper.   Rectangles should be about 12 by 8 inches (I find it helpful to use a ruler as a guide.)  I also trim dough to keep shape as rectangular as possible.  Remove top sheets of wax paper and divide filling between rectangles, spreading evenly.  Roll up each rectangle like a jelly roll beginning with a long side.  Use the wax paper to assist in rolling.  Wrap rolls in wax paper and foil and then chill until firm.  (One of the reasons that I like these cookies is that I make the rolls on the weekend and then bake the cookies during the week – at that point, it’s a slice and bake cookie.)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut rolls crosswise into slices about 1/8 inch thick and arrange on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until pale golden and set.  Transfer to racks to cool.

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About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

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