Cookies for the Twelve Days of Christmas
Done and Ready in Three!
No matter how much time you seemed to have in September, you suddenly find your minutes counted and Christmas facing you in less than three weeks. Your dreams of “sugar plums” are reduced to a package of cookies from a grocery store shelf. With a little planning, however, you can fill the family cookie jar for the holidays and still have plenty to share.
The best way to start a baking adventure is to inventory your cupboards to see what you already have on hand. The cookies use pretty basic items which you probably use on a daily basis, anyway. It isn’t much fun to start a baking project only to find something is missing. Kind of takes the joy out of the day if you have to tear off to the grocery store in the middle of your Christmas baking.
Preliminaries: The Grocery check list!
Spices: Ground nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves
Butter (Remember that one stick equals ½ cup)
Candied fruitcake fruit (Get the smallest container. Soaking it with brandy or rum the night before isn’t a bad idea!)
Lemons & oranges (Being used for fresh zest)
Instant coffee powder
Milk (Whole milk or 2% will work)
Light corn syrup
2½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup finely chopped pecans
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1¾ cups butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a pan over low heat, melt the butter, letting it simmer but avoid burning. Add the brown sugar and beat it until well mixed. Let cool before adding egg, beating vigorously until smooth. Add vanilla and flour mixture until well combined.
Form dough into two logs, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap them in wax paper and refrigerate about 30 minutes, then shape them into smoother, more even rolls. Freeze for two hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove rolls from freezer and slice into ¼ inch thick cookies. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for approximately ten minutes or until just golden. Cool and store in airtight container for one week or freeze for up to 2 months.
While your Butterscotch Cookies are freezing . . .
3 large eggs
2¼ cups dark brown sugar
¼ pound mixed, chopped, candied fruit
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves.
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
Confectioners’ sugar, Juice and grated rind of one lemon.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8 x 10-inch baking pan, dust it lightly with flour. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, one at a time to the brown sugar, beating well after each addition. Stir in the candied fruit, spices. Into another bowl combine the flour and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, combining well. Spread the cookie batter into the prepared pan and bake it for 15 minutes or until deep, golden brown.
While it is baking, add lemon rind, juice and enough confectioners’ sugar to make a thick icing. Spread over the warm cookies. When icing has set, cut into serving size squares.
Mexican Fiesta Cookies
1 cup butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 heaping tablespoon instant coffee
1 cup finely chopped nuts
½ cup chopped, drained, maraschino cherries.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar for coating.
Beat butter until light; gradually add sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to blend well.
Sift together flour, cocoa, coffee powder. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Blend in nuts and cherries; chill until easy to handle dough.
Shape dough into one-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove cookies to cooling racks and, while still warm, roll in confectioners’ sugar.
While your Fiesta cookies are firming up in the refrigerator, get started on . . .
2 sticks butter
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to325 degrees and either butter, use vegetable oil spray, or line two 8×8-inch baking pans with parchment paper.
Melt together the butter and unsweetened chocolate – microwave works well for this but don’t burn your chocolate! Stir in the granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat very well.
Stir in the flour, salt, and nuts if you are adding them to your brownies.
Divide the brownie batter between your two prepared pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with only crumbs, not damp batter. Let the pans cool on a rack before cutting.
You can eat them warm from the pan with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. Cold, they stand up nicely to a dab of frosting and a walnut half or a Christmas-theme candy.
At this point, you will have four batches of cookies stored away . . . children depending! Now is the time to round up the children and your cookie cutters.
Easy Roll-Out Sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons baking powder
4½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour, mixing well. The dough will be stiff so you may have to blend the last bit by hand. Do not chill dough. Roll out a portion of dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out desired shapes and bake on ungreased sheets for 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool before decorating.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
Mix sugar and milk thoroughly. Add corn syrup and incorporate well. Icing may be divided up and tinted according to your creativity. Colored sugar, sprinkles, bits of crushed candy cane, candied fruit or nuts can brighten up your cookies.