Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Tis The Season For Cookies

Well, once again, the holidays are upon us.  I really wanted to do a Thanksgiving recipe post but I was out of town that week and things were crazy leading up to our trip.  I hope I can make it up to you next year.  But I don't intend to slack on other holiday recipes so I figured I would start with cookies.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not much of a baker.  All that measuring irritates me.  I would much rather be able to just throw things in here and there.  But at holiday time, I do like to bake cookies.  Right now, my 6 year old helps me but I can't wait until my almost 3 year old is able to help too.  I think it's a great bonding experience.  Every Christmas when I was a kid, I would go to my maternal grandmother's house and help her decorate her gingerbread cookies.  It was something I looked foward to every year.  Once my daughter was old enough, I got the recipe from my mom and started the same tradition.  I'm sure I could find an easier, more updated recipe but I like carrying on the tradition exactly as it was.

Swedish Ginger Christmas Cookies

1/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C molasses
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 C butter
1 egg
2 1/2 C AP flour

In a saucepan, combine sugar, molasses and spices.  Cook over medium heat until it reaches boiling, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and add the baking soda and butter.  Stir until the butter is melted.  With an electric mixer, blend in egg until smooth.  With a wooden spoon (or an electric mixed with a paddle attachment) beat in 2 cups of flour to make a stiff dough.  Put remaining 1/2 cup of flour on a board or counter and need the dough until all the flour has been incorporated.  Shape dough into a smooth ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Roll out dough onto a lightly floured board.  Roll as thin as possible.  Cut out cookies with Christmas shaped cookie cutters. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

My daughter and I decorate them with a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze and sprinkles, just like I did with my grandmother.

This next recipe is also from my maternal grandmother and I have passed it on to several people, including my father-in-law who added them to the cookies he and my mother-in-law make ever year at the holidays.


2 C AP flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 C butter
3/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/4 C molasses
1/2 tsp. salt
White sugar for rolling

Cream together butter, brown sugar and spices.  Add egg and molasses.  Stir in dry ingredients, mixing well.  Form into small balls.  Roll the balls in white sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until edges are slightly crisp.

The next recipe comes from my mom but I am sure there are similar versions all over the place.  These are SO simple to make and SO good.  Even though the are called cookies, they're really bars.

7 Layer Cookies

1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed to fine crumbs
1 stick butter or margarine
1-14 oz package shredded coconut
1-12 oz. package chocolate chips (or butterscotch or whatever you have)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 C chopped nuts (optional...I'm not using them today)

Preheat oven to 350. While oven is heating, put butter in 9x13 pan and put pan in oven to melt butter. Once butter is melted, take out pan and add graham cracker crumbs. Stir to combine and press mixture in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle coconut over crust (I didn't quite use the whole package). Sprinkle the chips on top of the coconut. Drizzle the condensed milk over the whole thing. Bake for about 20 minute or until the coconut is slightly browned.

These next cookies are my hubby's favorites.  I really like them too and I think they are a great holiday cookie.

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats ( not instant)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter; mix well to cream together.

Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Add the cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour and mix well.

Fold in the oatmeal, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips- making sure that all ingredients are uniformly distributed.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 3 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes, just until the edges are lightly golden.

Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer cookies to cooling rack.
My last recipe is MY favorite.  And apparently, it's a favorite at hubby's office too since they always ask me to make them.  My hubby got the recipe from a coworker back in CT so I'm not sure where it originally came from. 
Italian Biscotti
1 C sugar
1/4 C butter, melted
3 eggs
1 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. anise extract
2 C AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 C whole almonds

Preheat over to 350.  Beat sugar and eggs together until creamy.  Beat in melted butter and extracts.  Mix together flour and baking powder.  Add to the batter and beat until well blended.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.  Shape dough into a 9 x 6 inch oval, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.  Remove from oven and cool slightly but NOT TOO MUCH or you won't be able to cut them.  Slice dough diagonally into 1/2 inch thick pieces.  Put the slices back on the cookie sheet and return to the oven.  bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Well, there you go.  I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do!