Instead of fighting the crowds on Black Friday, start your Christmas baking! These recipes are relatively easy to accomplish and freeze well. In fact, one year, I had prepared gift tins of cookies for several friends. As happens in life, one ‘friend’ decided Christmas was the good time to suddenly start ignoring us, even in person, so we didn’t meet and greet during the holidays. Around February, my son discovered a happy surprise – the huge tin or cookies I had prepared to give to the ex-friend who now had some kind of issue going on entirely in her own head. He wanted to know if he could have them but I warned that after three months in the freezer, I wasn’t sure how good they would still be. He happily opened up the tin and the scent of Christmas baking immediately scented the air. They were just about as good as when they were packed for gifting. A funny result of this find was my husband’s expression when he came home from work that evening. He watched my son come back from the freezer in the garage, followed his passage through the kitchen to his room with a very quizzical look on his face. He turned to me and asked, “Was I seeing things right. Did that kid just walk by with a handful of . . . Christmas cookies?”
Butter-Rich Butterscotch Cookies
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup very finely chopped pecans or walnuts
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups butter (You need it for taste here. Margarine just won’t do!)
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 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 rolls, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, minimum of an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove rolls from freezer and slice into 1/4 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 covered container for one week or freeze for as long as two months. Make approximately five dozen cookies.
1 cup butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 heaping tablespoon instant coffee
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup chopped, drained, maraschino cherries
1 cup powdered sugar for coating
Beat butter until light; gradually add sugar. Continue beating 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 one inch apart on ungreased
baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove cookies to
cooling racks and while still warm, roll in powdered sugar. Makes
approximately 4 to 5 dozen cookies..
Holiday Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add baking power and flour, mixing well. The
dough will be stiff so you may have to blend the last bit by hand.
Don’t force it. If the weather is dry, less flour may be needed. Do not chill dough.
Roll out a portion of dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out desired
shapes and bake on ungreased baking sheets for about eight minutes or
until lightly brown around the edges. Remove from baking sheets
immediately and cool thoroughly before decorating.
Christmas Cookie Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk or light cream
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
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 will
brighten up your cookies.