Have Yourself a Merry Little Cookie Collection

I LOVE the holiday season, and nearly everything about it,  fostering a child-like adoration for A Charlie Brown’s Christmas,  the bustle and trimmings,  and especially the peace and quiet magic that is Christmas Eve. One of my favorite aspects though, has got to be the cookies. Not actually eating cookies, strange as that may sound, but baking and decorating them, enjoying their seasonal scents, and the fun of exchanging them. Last year, I held my first cookie swap, and  it felt like an instant tradition, though it was a good amount of work. But this year, when the holidays seemed to creep up even faster and more furiously than ever, I considered writing it off (as if!). Talking with my wonderful, cherished Kinder-teammate Melissa, however, shed light on a possible compromise: why not organize a super simple one at school, spreading the holiday cheer without the prep and clean-up? It sounded so simple, and was…until my wisely persuasive and enthusiastic friend Mary determined we had to have a cookie swap with some of our mutual runner/triathlete friends, too.  Since I was secretly nurturing the same idea, I went from organizing 0 to 2 cookie swaps in the space of 48 hours. And actually, the contrast between the two seemed like a fun experimental observational opportunity. Of course, it wasn’t really an experiment, given that neither teachers nor runners/triathletes are one-dimensional, and both groups held individuals who easily belong in both categories. Still, I tried my best to learn more about my  friends via cookie choices, and here’s essentially what I did gather: 1) No one appreciates extra homework (like emailing cookie recipes) during the holidays, and especially not teachers. Only three teacher swappers provided me with a recipe on time, and 2 of the 3 were my own teammates.  Runners/triathletes were much more disciplined about following through with “the plan”. 2) You can call your general cooking style a reflection of yourself and your ideals, but cookies have an identity all their own (beginning with the infamously independent gingerbread man, of the can’t catch me, nobody can ilk), very distinctly separate from you, and thus it is really silly attempting to tie holiday cookie choices too much to one’s personal nutritional philosophy. Going for broke on making festive treats doesn’t  mean you’ve got to gorge yourself on what you’ve got, so, taking a little hiatus from the usual healthful focus of this blog, enjoy some of the collected recipes shared here by friends.

I can’t credit the majority of these recipes for their original sources, but will update info as I find out more!

Citrus-glazed Cream Cheese Snowballs

Cookies:

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour, ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup  cornstarch
  • 1 cup  powdered sugar
  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/4  cup  (2 ounces) block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract

Glaze:

  • 1 3/4  cups  powdered sugar
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lemon juice

1)      Preheat oven to 375°.

2)      Combine flours and  cornstarch medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

3)      Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, cheese, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed fluffy. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined (dough will be dry and crumbly). Shape dough into 36 (1-inch) balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.

For glaze, combine 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Dip tops of cookies in glaze; place on wire racks. Let cookies stand until glaze is set.

Mint Chocolate cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate syrup
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons creme de menthe liqueur
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of softened butter until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the chocolate syrup. Stir in the flour until just blended. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool completely in the pan.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup butter or margarine and creme de menthe until smooth. Spread evenly over the cooled brownies, then chill until set.

In a small bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then spread over the top of the mint layer. Cover, and chill for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ Cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • ¾ Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/8 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup dutch process unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ cup flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine butter and sugar in large bowl.  Using electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light.  Add egg, vanilla, peppermint and salt and beat until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low, mix in cocoa.  Then add flour and mix until well blended.

Pack dough into a cookie press.  Fit with desired design plate.  Press dough out onto ungreased cookie sheets spacing 1” apart.

Bake until firm to touch, about 10 minutes.  Cool on baking racks.

Cranberry Pistachio Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg

Method

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Carefully spoon half each of the flour mixture, oats, cranberries, sugars and pistachios into a (1-quart) jar to make colorful, even layers then repeat process to make the same layers with remaining ingredients. Seal jar until ready to use.

To make the cookies, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, vanilla and egg then add contents of jar and stir until combined. To form each cookie, drop 1 tablespoon dough onto a baking sheet, spacing cookies 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread out completely and are deep golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and set aside to let cool.

Energy-Packed Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c light butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a non-stick baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a small bown, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoon onto baking sheet leaving 2 inches between cookies.  Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.

Gingersnap Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup candied/crystallized ginger (chopped)

Directions:
1. Mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a bowl.
2. Cream the butter and brown sugar.
3. Beat in the egg followed by the molasses and the candied/crystallized ginger.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
5. Form the dough into small balls, place them on a baking sheet and press them down with your palm.
6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 8-10 minutes.

Gingersnaps II

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients.  Roll into balls and dip in sugar.  Bake at 350 until the cookies crack on top: about 5-10 minutes.

Seven Layer Bars

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C

Place butter in 13 x 9 inch pan and melt in oven. Swirl to coat bottom and sides with butter.

Spread crumbs evenly over bottom of pan. Layer chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and nuts over crumbs. Pour condensed milk over nuts. Sprinkle coconut over condensed milk.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until combined. Beat in egg and then molasses until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in dry ingredients, just until a dough forms.
  3. Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each equal to 1 tablespoon. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat.
  4. Arrange balls on baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until edges of cookies are just firm, 10 to 15 minutes (cookies can be baked two sheets at a time, but they will not crackle uniformly). Cool 1 minute on baking sheets; transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days.

From Everyday Food, December 2005

Molasses Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

1.                       Melt the shortening in a large pan on the stove, and cool.

2.                       Add sugar, eggs, and molasses, beat well.

3.                       In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together and add to the pan. Mix well and chill 3 hours or overnight.

4.                       Form into walnut-size balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

5.                       Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes.

6.                       Store in an airtight container to keep from getting overly crisp. If they do lose their softness, an easy way to restore it is to place one slice of fresh bread in the container with the cookies for a couple of hours or overnight and they will be soft again!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Almond Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons gluten free baking flour mix (mostly garbanzo and tapioca flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup almonds, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped

Preparation

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then almond extract. Add flour mixture and beat until blended. Stir in pecans and chocolate. Gather dough together; divide in half. Wrap in plastic and freeze 20 minutes to firm.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Using floured hands, form each dough piece into 14-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer parchment with logs to rack. Cool 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Place 1 log on cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut log on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stand slices upright on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining log.

Bake biscotti until dry to touch and pale golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on rack. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container.)

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • ½ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tsp Water
  • 2 Cups Cake Flour
  • 1 Cup Chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 375

Cream butter and sugar; add vanilla and water.  Add flour and pecans.  Form into balls.

Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Once cool, roll in confectioner’s sugar.

Yields 12 to 24 cookies.

Lemon Iced Ambroisa Bars

(from Cookie Exchange Recipe Book by Cyndi Duncan & Georgie Patrick)

  • 1 ½ Cups Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Cold Butter
  • 2 Cups Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 Eggs Beaten
  • 1 Cup Flaked Coconut
  • 1 Cup Pecans, finely chopped
  • 3 TBSP Flour
  • ½ Tsp Baking Powder

Preheat oven 350.  In medium bowl, combine flour and powdered sugar.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Press onto bottom of lightly greased 13×9-inch pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except icing.  Mix well.  Spread evenly over baked crust.  Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.

Cool; top with lemon icing and chill.

Yields 24-36 bars depending on how you cut them.

Icing:  2 Cups Powdered Sugar; 3 TBSP Lemon Juice & 2 TBSP Butter

Combine all ingredients until smooth and spreadable.  Add more lemon juice, if necessary.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

(from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone)

·      ½ Cup Earth Balance Butter (I used Smart Balance Butter)

·      ½ Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter (I used Organic Creamy Peanut Butter)

·      ¾ Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs or 10 Graham Cracker Squares

·      ¼ Cup Maple Sugar or other granulated sweetener (I used ¼ cup Agave)

·      1 Cup Carob Chips (I used Dark Chocolate Chips)

·      ¼ Cup Soy Milk

·      ¼ Cup Pecans, Almonds or Peanuts (I used Pecans)

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Melt butter over medium heat; stir in peanut butter, graham crackers, and maple sugar and mix well.

Remove from heat and evenly divide mixture, approximately two tablespoons per cup, into muffin cups.

Combine chocolate and milk in another pan.  Stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted.  Spoon chocolate evenly over peanut butter mixture.  Top with chopped pecans.

Place in refrigerate and chill 2 hours prior to serving.

Yields 12 cups.

Chocolate Meltaways

  • GANACHE:
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons half and half
  • COOKIE DOUGH:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ARGO® Corn Starch
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup GANACHE

1.       Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.       To prepare GANACHE: Place chocolate chips and half and half in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH power (100%) for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until chocolate begins to melt. Stir together until smooth. Set aside.

3.       To prepare COOKIE DOUGH: Combine flour, corn starch, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in medium bowl; set aside.

4.       Beat butter in a large bowl with mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add flour mixture and vanilla to butter and blend. Add 1/2 cup ganache (reserving remaining ganache for later use) to butter mixture and beat until well blended. (If necessary, refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until easy to handle.)

5.       Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack until cooled to room temperature.

6.       Drizzle remaining ganache over cookies (see recipe tip below). Store cookies in air tight container.

7.       RECIPE TIP: Transfer ganache to a sealable sandwich-size plastic freezer bag using a rubber spatula. Seal bag and snip a small tip off the lower corner of bag. Squeeze ganache through opening to pipe onto cookies.

Photo credit: Flikr User Cinenation

  1. Christina Gillen
    December 18, 2009

    I somehow feel like I have experienced a cookie swap by just reading all these recipes! Yum….and a very Merry Christmas to all.

  2. Robin
    December 19, 2009

    What a delicious combination of holiday cheer. Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

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