Christmas without cookies?
Don’t even think such a thing! Somehow food and holidays are almost synonymous, and so it is with Christmas and cookies. Nothing represents the spirit of loving, nurturing and giving more than a homemade cookie. It is small and pretty, sweet and comforting. A cookie is a treat that doesn’t need to be eaten right away either. It will last, sometimes for months (if well hidden), to be savored when one desires.
Cookies are always appreciated, and they are forgiving—even if not perfect, they are enjoyed. But they are more apt to be perfect if a few tips are kept in mind.
First of all, read the recipe over carefully before you start. Bring all ingredients to room temperature before starting. Preheat the oven for at least 15 minutes before baking. Use only fresh flour, baking soda and baking powder. If the flour has been stored in a humid place, it may have absorbed too much moisture, resulting in cookie dough that is too soft. Measure carefully. If too much flour is added, the cookies will be dry and crumbly; if too little, they will spread and be thin. Unsalted butter and unsalted nuts will give the best flavor. Always use large eggs; most recipes have been created with this size in mind.
For even baking, use a shiny, heavy-gauge-aluminum baking sheet with a small rim on one end or both ends, not all four sides. Grease the pans only if specified in the recipe. Make all cookies on the same sheet approximately the same size. Don’t over-bake cookies; they will usually be dry. Use a timer; check cookies at the minimum suggested baking time to prevent over-baking. Allow baking sheets to cool completely before placing the next batch of dough on them. When removing cookies from the oven, let them cool one minute, then transfer them to a wire rack in a single layer with no overlapping. Cool cookies completely before storing them.
Store soft cookies in a container with a tight-fitting lid, and crisp cookies in a container with a loose-fitting lid. Ship Christmas cookies packed in boxes layered with green “Easter grass.”
Favorites in our home are not even baked—a real plus when traveling in an RV.
Melt together 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 cup of chocolate chips; add 1 beaten egg and let cool. Add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and 2 cups of colored miniature marshmallows.
Sprinkle 18 inches of wax paper with angel flake coconut. Roll cookie mixture up in the wax paper. Chill overnight; slice and serve.
RUM OR BOURBON BALLS
2 cups of vanilla wafers, ground fine
1/3 cup of rum or bourbon
2 tablespoons of cocoa
1 cup of finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
1 cup of powdered sugar
Mix all above ingredients together; form into walnut-sized balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Store in tightly covered container for at least a week before using. Makes about four dozen.
Here are some other favorites that need baking:
3/4 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of molasses
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger, cloves
Cream butter and sugar; add egg and molasses and beat well. Mix flour, soda and spices together and add to butter mixture. Roll into small balls and dip into sugar. Place a half-inch apart on greased cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes in preheated 375-degree oven.
Cream 1 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar together; add 2 eggs and mix well.
Mix together 2 3/4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and one-half teaspoon salt; mix into butter mixture. Chill dough.
Roll into walnut-size balls, and then roll into mixture of 2 tablespoons each of sugar and cinnamon. Place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 10-15 minutes.
PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS
48 Hershey’s Kisses
1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add sugars; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated 375-degree oven or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Makes about four-dozen cookies.
LEMON NUT WHITE CHIP COOKIES
1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 cups of white morsels
1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts or cashew nuts
1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter and sugars in large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in egg and lemon juice; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels, nuts and lemon peel. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned in preheated 375-degree oven. Cool on baking sheets 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about three-dozen cookies.
ULTIMATE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
1 bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of chopped walnuts
In a double boiler over hot water, melt the bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir in chocolate mixture.
In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts.
Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 8 inches long. As dough will be very soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough log shape. Wrap tightly. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.
Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into three-fourths-inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 12-14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet. Makes about two-dozen cookies.
The year is growing gray at the temples now. The warm colors of fall are gone—trees are bare, the ground is brown, earth’s creatures lie dormant. It may not be winter quite yet, but it might as well be.
HINT OF THE MONTH: Traveling and find you have no baking powder? Try this homemade mix. It works! Mix 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use the same measurements as the commercial mix.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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