Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Cookies Galore

A plate of Christmas cookies
I love Christmas cookies-- always have. My mother makes the best Christmas cookies (in fact a lot of these recipes are hers)  and some of my favorite childhood memories are of Christmas cookies (especially the ones where we snuck into the deep freeze and ate the frozen cookies before Christmas). I still love eating frozen cookies.

Right around Thanksgiving I start getting the restless urge to make Christmas cookies. To the left are a plate of cookies I made this year (lemon ginger pinwheels, crescent cookies, peanut butter blossoms, almond glazed sugar cookies, raspberry linzers, thumbprints, coconut chocolate macaroons, peppermint bark, and almond bark. Below are  some of the recipes for my favorites. I hope you try some and like them as much as I do.

Almond Glazed Sugar Cookies (A Land of Lakes Recipe)

Cookie Ingredients: 

1 Cup (227 g) of Butter, Softened
3/4 Cup (169 g) of Granulated Sugar
1 Tsp of Almond Extract
2 Cups (250 g) of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp of Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp of Salt

Glaze Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups (170 g) of Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp of Almond Extract
4 to 5 Tsp of Water
Sliced Almonds

Heat oven to 400°F/204 C. Combine all cookie ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten balls to 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick with bottom of buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

Combine all glaze ingredients except almonds in small bowl with wire whisk. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze and sliced almonds as desired.

Notes for this recipe-- The quality of ingredients make a difference in this recipe; remember to dip the glass in sugar often to prevent the dough from sticking to the glass. You could change the flavor of the cookies by changing the extract.

Walnut Crescents

1 Cup (227 g) of Butter, Softened
1/4 Cup (28 g) of Powdered Sugar (plus more to roll the cookies in)
1 1/2 Tsp of Water
2 Cups (250 g) of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup (114 g) of Chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 F/ 191 C.

Cream butter and 1/4 Cup (28 g) of powdered sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into rolls 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) in diameter and cut into one inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Shape each piece into a crescent, place on ungreased cookie sheet, and push ends down on sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and roll in powdered sugar. Once the cookies cool, roll again in powdered sugar.

Notes for these cookies-- It is important to roll the cookies twice in the sugar. I try to have someone around to help with rolling the cookies in powdered sugar- it makes the process go quicker. The cookies tend to be fragile so (at least for me) there are broken cookies to enjoy while baking. Instead of chopping the walnuts, I used ground walnuts.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

1 3/4 Cups (219 g) of Unbleached all-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup (113) of Granulated Sugar (plus more to roll cookies in)
1/2 Cup (107 g) Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 Tsp of Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp of Salt
1/2 Cup (95 g) of Shortening
1/2 Cup ( 129 g) of Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Large Egg
2 Tbsp of Whole Milk
1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract
48 Chocolate Kisses

Preheat oven to 375 F/ 191 C.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients except kisses. Blend at low speed. Shep into balls (about a rounded teaspoon full). Roll balls in sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F/191 C for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and top each cookie with a kiss pressing down firmly so that the cookie cracks around the edge.

Notes- Remove the chocolate kisses from the foil BEFORE you start the cookies. You can use any flavor you like-- but I like the milk chocolate. This is a fun cookie to make with kids-- it is easy and kids tend to love them because they get a cookie and candy.

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