Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Cookies (edited Nov.28)

I am going to share with you a couple of my families favorite cookie recipes and another of my own that I love to make at Christmas but also make other times with my oldest.  At the bottom of each recipe I also share some tips I have figured out to make things a bit easier.
Whipped Shortbread Cookies (my mom’s recipe)
Every time I try to double this recipe it doesn’t come out as good so take that under consideration.
2 cups of butter – at room temperature (good butter, don’t cheap out it’s Christmas!)
1 cup icing sugar 
1/2 cup corn starch                                                                                      
3 cups flour                                                                                          
1 tsp vanilla                                                                                 
Small candies (M&M’s or Smarties) or candied Cherries
  1. Put butter in your mixer and beat until slightly fluffy, then add the icing suger and beat until fluffy again.
  2. Add the corn starch, flour and vanilla and beat…keep going…it takes a while…until it is all nice and mixed and super fluffy.  (The fluffier it is the more it will melt in your mouth.)  DSC03587
  3. Start preheating the oven to between 300F and 350F, I use 325F.
  4. Now you can put cookie drops on the baking sheet or use a cookie press to get the nice flower and tree shapes.
  5. Add a candy, candied cherries, or something on the cookies to mark the middle (for the flower) or top (for a tree) as an added treat, kids love M&M’s.
  6. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.  (Ultimate temperature and length of time depends on your altitude but just keep a close eye on the first pan and watch for slight browning on the bottom edge of the cookie and take them out…there is no eggs so no chance of salmonella poisoning so don’t worry too much).
When my Munchkin is helping me I tend to use my small cookie dough scoop, easier for him to use and he likes to mash down the cookie ball.  But I do use a cookie press when he gets tired of making the cookies with me.  A trick that I read somewhere (I read it last year and can’t remember or I would give them credit) is to freeze the cookie sheet.  This makes the cookies stick to the frozen cookie sheet instead of sticking to the gun (you know, the whole tongue on a frozen pole that EVERYONE has done at least once in their life)…it really works and it saves you from eating all the cookie that don’t turn out…I mean, you could just put it back in the press but what is the fun in that!  Smile

Brown Sugar Shortbread (my mom got this from someone else)
1 cup butter – at room temperature (once again, use good butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar                                                                                        
1 egg yolk                                                                                                         
1 tsp vanilla                                                                                                         
2 cups flour                                                                                                      
1 tsp baking soda                                                                                              
Pecan’s  (optional)
  1. Put the butter and sugar in mixer and beat until fluffy.
  2. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and baking soda and mix in.
  3. Add the four and then beat until fluffy (can take a long time just like above). DSC03574
  4. Preheat oven to 300F
  5. Roll into 1 inch size balls and place on baking sheet, then flatten twice with a fork making a criss-cross design.
  6. Top it off with a Pecan or chocolate or whatever you want. DSC03577
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 mintues.
These cookies are delicious and not as sweet as the traditional shortbread.  The first time I had them I didn’t really like them but now they are my favorite!  I use my little cookie scoop for these as well, then all the cookies are symmetrical and it takes less time than forming each ball of dough.
Sugar Cookies (Our Best Bites)
So I follow the Our Best Bites Sugar cookie recipe, although I just change the amount of flour I put in it – they call for 3 cups of flour but I put about 2 and 1/2 cups of flour – this is due to elevation changes and things like that.  (I also prefer the almond extract but can no longer use it as it turns out my husband is allergic to almonds…guess that was the little itchiness he got in the throat…ooppps.)  They also have some awesome decorating suggestions!
A couple of tricks I have for these (as they take time since you have to cool the dough, roll it out, make the shapes…) are -
  • Roll the dough out between PARCHMENT paper before you cool it.  This way you don’t add more flour to the dough (which makes them a drier cookie) and you don’t get a sticky/flour mess on your counter, so less clean up.
  • Now, something that I didn’t know (as I confused PARCHMENT paper with WAX paper) is that parchment paper can go in the oven.  So this helps you out big time and here is how -
    • Cut out your shapes in the rolled out dough after it has cooled (little ones love doing this) and then peel out the left over dough.  Slide the parchment paper onto your cookie sheet (the best are the double walled ones with no sides) and put them in the oven.  (*IF you do this make sure to leave space between the cookies as they do raise!*)
    • When they are cooked you can take them off the paper and they are perfectly shaped.  No more trying to pull the cut cookie off the counter or wax paper to move to the cookie sheet…also, you don’t have to clean the cookie sheet after!  Win-Win!  (And I think that parchment paper is compostable…but not 100% sure)
  • Another thing I do is put sprinkles on the cookies before I bake them.  This saves having to decorate them afterwards (and both kids like to do this…easy for even a one year old).  I don’t do this to all of them, I save a few for Munchkin#1 to have some fun one afternoon decorating them but they aren’t the pretty ones…that is for sure.  Sometimes I am more ambitious and decorate them all pretty but I usually don’t have time.
sugar cookies
Those are the cookies that I made this year.  I usually make more but these will do.  I also have some Turtles, chocolate houses and squares that I will be making…share those later!
Happy Baking!

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