Archive for the 'Christmas' Category

Gingerbread Cookies

I made these gingerbread cookies for my family’s Christmas dinner last weekend.  These cookies tasted fantastic- definitely the best gingerbread cookie recipe I’ve ever tried!  They are soft and chewy and have the perfect balance of spices in them (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, & cloves).  I decorated these cookies with the same batch of royal icing that I used to decorate my Christmas sugar cookies.  This was a very efficient way to decorate all 8 dozen cookies!  (In case you’re wondering, it took me about 3 hours to decorate all of the cookies).  This is a wonderful recipe that I plan to make every year from now on.  Happy Holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices to combine; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the molasses and egg until combined.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least one hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  Place the cookie shapes onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.  Decorate as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats; Originally from Good Things Catered and All Recipes

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Here are a few photos of the sugar cookies I made for Christmas this year.  I used cookie cutters in the shape of presents, peppermints, Christmas trees, candy canes, and holly leaves.  I also used my crinkle-edge-square cookie cutter to make cookie place cards/favors for a family Christmas dinner.  These cookies were so much fun to decorate!  The recipes for the sugar cookies and royal icing are posted below.  Enjoy!

Presents. This is a new cookie cutter that I got from Target this year. It would be perfect for birthday present sugar cookies too.

Lots of Christmas trees!

 

Holly leaves

 

Peppermints. The cookie cutter is from http://www.coppergifts.com. And the design was inspired by the book “Cookie Craft Christmas” by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer.

Candy canes

 

Cookie favors and place cards

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and powdered sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Blend in the egg, almond extract, vanilla extract, salt and flour.
  3. Chill the dough until firm.
  4. Roll the dough out to ¼” thickness on a well-floured surface.
  5. Cut with cookie cutters.  Place on greased (or parchment lined) cookie sheets, and bake at 375° for 8-10 min. The cookies should not brown.
  6. Frost and decorate the cookies when cool.

Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on size

Source: Annie’s-Eats

Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons meringue powder
  • scant ½ cup water
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • few drops almond extract (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine the meringue powder and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat until combined and foamy.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)
  3. Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. (The corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.) Increase the speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.  (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

This “stiff” icing is perfect for outlining cookies or piping details onto cookies. To fill in the cookies, add water to the icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. (This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called “flooding.”)

Yield: This will cover 2-3 dozen 3.5 inch cookies in 2 colors.  (I usually double this recipe.)

Source:  Bake at 350

And here is a photo of the Christmas cookies I made last year (in 2009).  This was the first time I had ever used royal icing to decorate cookies.  As you can see from this photo, practice really does make perfect!  This year, my royal icing colors were so much richer (ie- they are actually red and dark green instead of pink and pale green!)  To get the icing colors to look like this, I now use only Americolor gel food coloring.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

I kicked off my Holiday baking this year by making these chocolate peppermint bark cookies.  These cookies are so yummy!  Originally I was just going to make chocolate peppermint bark, but when I saw this cookie version, I couldn’t pass it up.  Basically, it’s a shortbread-type cookie topped with a layer of dark chocolate with white chocolate swirled on top.  Crushed candy canes are then sprinkled on the chocolate for a festive touch.   These are the perfect cookies to serve at a Holiday party.  Or, just make them for yourself, like I did!  :)  I highly recommend adding these to your Christmas baking list this year!  (FYI – There are currently 12 different kinds of cookies on my list… I better get baking! :)  )

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies or candy canes (about 3 ounces)
  • 2 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with a long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sides of the pan.
  2. Whisk the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar.  Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, then the egg yolk.  Gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.
  3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into the prepared baking pan, spacing evenly.  Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Pierce dough all over with a fork.
  4. Bake the cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and the edges begin to come away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.  Place pan on a rack; immediately sprinkle the chopped bittersweet chocolate over.  Let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the chopped white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  (This doesn’t take long – be careful not to burn it!  In my microwave, it took about a minute.  I started by microwaving the chocolate for 30 seconds, then I stopped the microwave, stirred the chocolate and continued microwaving it in 10 second intervals, stirring each time until it was fully melted.)
  6. Using a small offset spatula, spread the bittersweet chocolate over the top of the cookie in a thin even layer.  Immediately drizzle the melted white chocolate over the dark chocolate layer.  Using the tip of the offset spatula (or a butter knife) held vertically, carefully swirl the white and dark chocolate together to create a “swirly” pattern.  Then sprinkle the chopped candy canes on top.
  7. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  8. Using the paper overhang as an aid, lift the cookie from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, cut the cookie into irregular pieces.  Enjoy!

Note: These can be made 1 week ahead.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper.

Yield: About 36 cookies

Source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane cookies have been one of my favorite Christmas cookies for as long as I can remember.  They are one of 3 kinds of cookies that I make every year, exclusively at Christmas time, which makes them extra special.  I look forward to these cookies all year long!  (In case you’re wondering, the other two of my “Christmas only” cookies are Chocolate Crinkles and Butter Snowballs, pictured below.)

Traditionally, these candy cane cookies are just red and white, but last year I decided to switch things up a bit and make some of them green and white too.  I think they turned out cute and I like how they represent both Christmas colors.  These delicate cookies have a nice almondy flavor and the crushed peppermint candy canes on top give them a hint of minty-ness which makes them extra yummy.  You should definitely consider adding these cookies to your Christmas baking list!

Candy Cane Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract (peppermint extract can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Red and green (optional) food coloring

Candy cane topping:

  • ½ cup crushed candy canes
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the candy cane topping: In a small bowl, stir together the crushed candy canes and sugar.  Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Then add the egg, almond extract and vanilla extract.  Beat until smooth.  Gradually stir in the flour mixture, beating on low speed just until the flour is blended.
  5. Divide the cookie dough in half.
  6. To make all red & white cookies: Take one half of the dough and knead red food coloring into it until the dough is tinted red.  To make half of the cookies red/white and half of the cookies green/white: Take one half of the dough and separate into 2 equal parts.  Tint one part red and the other part green, using food coloring.
  7. To assemble each cookie: Take one rounded teaspoon of red (or green) dough & one rounded teaspoon of white dough and roll each into a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 4-inch long rope.   Place 1 red (or green) and 1 white rope side by side on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Press the 2 ropes together lightly, twist them together, and then curve the top of the cookie down to form the handle of a candy cane.
  8. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes.  Immediately after taking them out of the oven, sprinkle the cookies with the crushed candy cane and sugar mixture.  Cool slightly on the pan, and then remove them from the cookie sheet to cool completely.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Source: Betty Crocker

My other favorite Christmas Cookies:

Chocolate Crinkles

Butter Snowballs

One Year Ago: Pomegranate Fizz Cocktail

 

 

 

 


Butter Snowball Cookies

Butter Snowball Cookies


Every year when I get together with my Mom and sisters for the holidays, we bake Butter Snowball cookies.  Baking Christmas cookies during the holidays is one of our traditions, and Butter Snowballs are a favorite, along with Chocolate Crinkles, Candy cane cookies, and Sugar cookies.

This recipe was passed down from my Great Grandmother, and we have been making them for as long as I can remember.  My in-laws refer to these cookies as Russian Tea Cakes, and I’ve heard that they are known by other names as well.  Regardless of what you call them, they’re small, delicious, and melt in your mouth!

Recipe from: Great Grandma Brandt & Betty Crocker

Butter Snowball Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½  cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2  ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup finely chopped nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl.  Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cool slightly on wire rack.
  5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack.  Roll in powdered sugar again.

Makes: 4 dozen cookies (recipe can be doubled)

Chocolate Crinkles

For as long as I can remember, my family and I have been making Chocolate Crinkles during the holidays.  They are one of our favorite kinds of Christmas cookies, and every December we get together to bake these cookies (as well as a few other family favorites).  These cookies are moist, chewy, chocolatey, and delicious!

Recipe from: Betty Crocker

Chocolate Crinkles

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted & cooled
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar and vanilla.  Stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll around to coat and shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Makes: 6 dozen cookies

Sugar Cookies

One of the things I love about Christmas is that it gives me an excuse to bake lots of cookies.  Today I made my first batch of Christmas sugar cookies.  I used this recipe for the cookie dough and decorated the cookies with royal icing.

Here are a few photos:


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