Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Christmas Cookie Recipes

We exchange handcrafted gifts with my siblings. We started this several years ago and it just works for us. My contribution to the gift giving is the annual box of cookies. I also can goodies, and this year they get Apple Lemon Thyme/Pineapple Sage Jelly and Pearsauce. I've decided to share some of my sure-fire cookie recipes with you.

First, I'll tell you somethings that I can't live without.

1. A stand mixer. We were given a stand mixer for our wedding. I have since moved on to the lovely Kitchen Aid. My husband made me buy it. Even though I got it on a Black Friday deep discount early AM Target sale, I felt guilty. I called him from the parking lot and cried. Now I cry tears of joy. I was gifted two additional bowls for it. It makes cookie baking so much easier.
2. My Tupperware cookie roll out mat. It's really a pie roll out mat. I use it for cookies, though.
3. Parchment Paper
4. Pam
5. Mini chips. They make for better flavor dispersal.
6. Vanilla extract. I can't use the Imitation Vanilla Flavoring. Once you've gone real, you can't go back.
7. Butter. Christmas cookies weren't meant to be low fat.
8. My gigantic wire cooling rack. It holds many dozen cookies.
9. My Pampered Chef cookie scoop. I have the small one and when a recipe says it will make 36 cookies, the Pampered Chef small scoop will make exactly 36 cookies. Generic scoopers kick the bucket. This one was worth every single penny I paid for it.

Now onto the stuff that you are actually here for! I know that all of you have the basic recipes, which is why I skipped them. I passed on the different from the rest recipes that I have.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract (I always use more.)
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
2 1/2 c quick cooking oats (I use apple cinnamon breakfast oatmeal for at least half of this.)
1- 10 oz pkg Cinnamon Chips
1/4 c raisins or craisins (I use craisins.)

Heat oven to 350 F. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Combine flour and baking soda, then add to butter mixture. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and c/raisins. (Batter will be stiff.) Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. About 4 dozen cookies. My favorite!

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
3 1/2 c flour
1 1/3 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c orange juice
1 egg yolk

1/2 c raspberry preserves for filling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg YOLK and orange juice, mix in flour until just blended. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Press thumb into center of each cookie, making a deep indentation. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and fill with raspberry preserves. Very little goes a long way. Use caution to not overfill. It just burbles over and makes a yummy, but messy looking cookie. Return to oven for 5 minutes, then immediately remove and cool cookies on a wire rack. Makes probably 6 dozen cookies or so. Mom's favorite!

Almost Candy Bar
1/2 c butter
1 pkg Devil's Food Cake Mix (NOT prepared.)
6 oz butterscotch chips*
6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 c coconut*
1 c chopped nuts*
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

* I admit that I use whatever I have or am in the mood for. I use many mini chocolate chips. I also use M&M's, heath bar bits and mini marshmallows. I'm not a fan of nuts or coconut.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cut butter into the cake mix with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking pan. Press lightly. Sprinkle with candies of your choosing and pour sweetened condensed milk over all the ingredients. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until light and golden brown. Cool completely. Cut into small bars as these are VERY rich. I place the small bars onto cupcake papers to keep them all separate. They are kind of sticky. My best friend's husband loves these!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Have I mentioned my love for chocolate?

2/3 c butter
1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 T water
1 t vanilla OR peppermint extract (I always use more.)*
2 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1- 12 oz pkg chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 F. Cream butter, brown sugar, water and extract in a large bowl on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating on low speed until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 " apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until cookies are set. Cookies will appear soft and moist. Do not over bake. Makes about 3 dozen.

* I accidentally grabbed the wrong extract once. I found that the peppermint was delicious!

Chocolate Covered Graham Cracker Pretzels

My apologies for not being able to give you an actual pretzel/chocolate ratio, but I can give you my tips.

1. I use a 50/50 combination of dark chocolate/milk chocolate merkens. (Melting chocolate wafers.) I love dark chocolate and most of the people I know love milk. I have found that by making the combo, everyone loves them and no one complains.
2. I'm excited! I've found chocolate graham pretzels to dip in chocolate. More chocolate can't be a bad thing, right?
3. I make my own double boiler with a pot and a metal bowl.
4. I use a tweezer to dip my pretzels. Don't worry, it is a tweezer specifically in the kitchen for this purpose. We'll call it a kitchen tweezer, even though it is from the HBA section of the grocery.
5. I like to sprinkle little non-pariels (the little colored round balls) on the tops of the pretzels.
6. Since we are in chilly NE Ohio, I place a TV tray table on my back step (Klassy, I know) so that I can cool these off faster than in the freezer. By the time I've finished a cookie sheet of them, the other sheet is ready to be pulled and used again! Yes, I just sling them in and out of the back door. No, no one has ever helped themselves, though it has snowed on them from time to time!

Just Like Thin Mints

A couple of pounds of mint flavored melting chocolate
A box of all purpose crackers AKA generic Ritz. (I buy Value Time for 1.00 a box.)

Dip the crackers in the chocolate. Sprinkle with non-pariels. Cool. Eat. Imagine that you are eating Thin Mints. The Girl Scouts can't care this time of year? They aren't peddling their goods until January, right? This is another one of my favorites!

Graham Cracker Brownies
This is one I haven't tried yet, but I found the recipe in the Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 7 that I borrowed from the library this week. I'm hoping to make them this weekend as my first Christmas cookie batch to freeze.

2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Spread into a greased 8" x 8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and cut into squares. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Apple Lemon Thyme/Pineapple Sage Jelly

Unfortunately, my recipe isn't currently in my recipe box-- I don't know why. However, if you follow a basic juice jelly recipe, that's all I use. You do need to do a 4 hour steeping of your juice beforehand. Add 10 sprigs of Lemon Thyme and 10 leaves of Pineapple Sage, heat to just boiling for a minute or so, turn the burner off, place a lid on the pot and leave it for 4 hours. Don't move it from the burner. Just let it sit and enjoy the herbs. Remove the herbs prior to making into jelly.

See, I anticipated your need. I knew that you would skip over all the cookie recipes that I had and would want the jelly recipe. As for the Pearsauce, I'm a taster. When it tastes good, I know that it is ready to can. I use a lot of cinnamon and brown sugar. It does get a good fresh grating of nutmeg, though. Yum.

Happy baking!

Next week: I have no idea. It'll be surprise week here at WFMW! Ooo! Maybe I can be all organized and take photos of the American Girl wardrobe boxes that I'm making. Okay. Yep. That'll be it. Save yourself the hundred dollars or so! I'll show you what I did. Now, if I can just get those darned things started . . .


Jerralea said...

These sound yummy! I'm going to try the Almost Candy Bar cookies.

Thanks for sharing!

Jamie said...

Seriously... viewing that picture you must be a super neat baker! When I bake there are ingredients and dough ALL over the place. My mixer never comes out looking good.

I am so making the graham cracker pretzel thing after the holidays!!

Thanks for sharing!