Cookies and Memories . . .

I took a couple of days before Christmas to make Christmas cookies. I guess I was feeling nostalgic and probably missing my mother who has been gone for over ten years now but suddenly decided to include a batch of a favorite Christmas cookie in the bunch – Pfeffernusse. It is a small, roundish cookie with a lot of spice packed into it covered in a thin icing. To those used to cutout cookies loaded with icing and decorations, these might be pretty plain but enjoying a few of them with hot coffee or tea and you know you just found the best of the bunch. Not a difficult recipe but a very spicy one!

Pfeffernusse Cookies (translation: Pepper Nut Cookies)

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons thick sour cream
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside. Combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, and sour cream and stir together until melted and smooth. Cool for five minutes and then stir in the flour mixture. Add the egg and vanilla and mix in thoroughly. Bring the dough together into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate four hours to overnight to let the flavors develop.

To bake:
Preheat oven to 350 degree.

Form the dough into balls about an inch in size. A cookie scoop makes this an easy job if you have one. Keep the dough chilled so work quickly.

Place the the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake approximately 15-18 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Let cookies cool before removing them to a cooling rack. When the cookies are completely cooled, it is time to make the glaze.

Glaze:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons of hot water or enough to make a workable glaze. Dip each cookie, face down, into the glaze, let excess drip off, and place on a cooling rack to dry. If you are quick or have a helper, you can use some colorful sprinkles on them.

The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

All Your Christmas Cookies in One Recipe!

When I was little, my mother had a similar recipe for making many kinds of cookies out of one dough. Over the years, it has evolved so here are some of my favorite ways to make use of one cookie dough for a variety of flavors. We used to have Christmas Cookie Baking days with friends and this was always a great way to get started. Another plus is that you can make up all your favorite options listed and refrigerate them and spread out the baking time over several days. This is also your warning . . . December is tomorrow so can Christmas be coming rather quickly?

All Your Christmas Cookies in One Recipe
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter flavoring/extract
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, extracts and spices. Mix in the dry ingredients until well-blended.

Now, you are ready to bake . . . But what kind of cookies do you want to make? All this beautiful dough ready for creation . . . Divide your dough into eight portions and start thinking!

Cherry-Orange Drops
Additions:
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
½ cup diced green and red maraschino cherries
½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix in a an eighth of your prepared dough. Refrigerate dough for an hour. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden in a preheated 375 degree oven.

Wedding Cookies
Additions:
Those popular Wedding cookies will take another eighth of your dough Simply stir in 1 cup of finely chopped pecans and chill dough for four hours. When dough is ready, shape into small balls on a parchment-line baking sheet. Cookie scoops make this easy. You don’t want golf ball size here. Bake at 375 degrees until set and browned on the bottom, depending on the size of the balls, about 5-8 minutes. Watch them carefully! Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a cup of powdered sugar in a bowl. If you happen to have vanilla powder on hand, do put a few teaspoons in the sugar. Now roll each of the warm cookie balls in the sugar and set aside to complete cooling. You want to do this when they are still warm.

Chocolate Cinnamon Balls
Additions:
Similar to the Wedding Cookies but with a spicy, chocolate element. Add in ½ cup finely diced walnuts and ½ cup of mini-chocolate chips. Follow the directions for baking the cookies like the Wedding Cookies. Let the cookies rest before rolling them in a mixture of ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and a dash of ground cloves.

Crispy Cut-Out Cookies
No additions here but you will need to chill the dough a couple of hours to facilitate rolling it out. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about an eighth of an inch thick. The fun part? Using your choice of cookie cutters to create you edible Christmas good wishes. Place your cookies on a parchment-line baking sheet(s) and bake about 6-8 minutes in 375 degree oven. Watch carefully to insure golden cookies. A quick brush of icing is a cup of powdered sugar and enough cream or milk to form a spreadable icing. Those plastic pastry brushes are great from quick icing. Be sure to have some sparkly sugar or colorful decorations to add before the icing sets.

Gingerbread Men
Additions:
1/4 cup molasses
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Follow the directions for cooling, cutting, and baking the Crispy Cut-Out Cookies. Hope you have a gingerbread man cookie cutter on hand!

Chocolate Sandwich cookies
Again, no additions but a fun, tasty cookie. Take your eighth portion of dough, divide in half, and roll each into a roll about 1 ½- inches in diameter. Refrigerate a couple of hours and then slice the cookie rounds about an eighth thick and place on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake in 375 degree oven for 5-8 minutes. Let cool a bit before removing to a cooling rack. Meanwhile, carefully melt a cup of milk chocolate chips. Take one cookie and spread some chocolate on the bottom and sandwich it (bottoms sides facing) with another cookie. For a fun decoration, when the cookie sandwiches are done, Melt ½ cup white, mint, or peanut butter chips (Your choice!) and drizzle it over the tops of the cookies and sprinkle with some colorful sugar or decoration.

Sugared Cookies
No additions but some colorful sugar would work well here. As usual, make sure the dough has been refrigerated at least an hour. Scoop up heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough, roll in the sugar, and place about two-inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Press gently down on each cookie – not TOO thin! Bake for approximately 5-6 minutes or until lightly golden in 375-degree oven. Let rest before removing to cooling racks.

Brown Butter Frosted Walnut-Nut Drops
Additions:
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix in the walnuts/cinnamon and refrigerate the dough. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls on parchment-lined baking sheets about two-inches apart. Bake for approximately 5-7 minutes or until golden and set. Now, this is what elevates the cookie to dramatically tasty! In a small pot, melt a stick of butter and watching carefully cook it until it starts to brown, stirring constantly. Remove from stove and add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and enough cream or milk to combine. Mix well. It should not be runny but not too thick, either. Add drops of milk or cream if it is too thick. Now, pick up each cooled cooking and dip it halfway into the icing and set back on the cooling rack to set. Before it sets, however, would be a good time to sprinkle some chopped nuts or colorful decorations on them.

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies
Additions:
2 ounces of melted and cooled baking chocolate
Mix the chocolate into your eighth portion of dough thoroughly. Divide in two and form into two rolls about 1 ½-inches in diameter and cool for two hours. Slice off rounds of cookies into approximately one-eighth slices. Place on the parchment-line baking sheets and bake for 5-6 minutes. They should be set but be careful of scorching. Chocolate tends to do that! Let rest on baking sheets before removing to cooling rack. Meanwhile, beat 1½ sticks of softened butter with approximately two cups powdered sugar. Drops of milk or cream helps if it is too thick. You need fluffy and spreadable here. Tint it with a tiny bit of red food coloring to get a pink hue. You can add ½ cup of crushed candy cane to the frosting or simply flavor with a drop of peppermint extract.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Prepare the dough and baking as shown above for the Chocolate Peppermint Patty cookies. This time, beat together ½ stick of softened butter, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, and enough cream or milk if it needs thinning down a bit. Fill the cookies as shown in previous recipe. For an added treat, melt 1 ½ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip each cookie half way in and then set on waxed paper to set.

Yes, I know there are eleven choices here. You can pick our favorite eight! You can also divide a couple of your ‘eighths’ of dough in half which would work well with the drop cookies to try all eleven ideas.

World’s Best Cookie!

Well, it might not be the world’s best cookie but it certainly can be a contender. It is also easy to put together and people do tend to go back for more than one. Santa-approved, of course.

World’s Best Cookie

1. 1 cup butter (do not substitute)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup salad oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
31/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup regular oatmeal
½ cup coconut
½ cup chopped pecans1 cup cornflakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter, sugars and vanilla with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and salad oil, mixing well.
Add baking soda, salt and flour and mix well. Add oatmeal, coconut, pecans and cornflakes and stir well.

Form into balls the size of walnuts. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with fork. Bake for 12 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen.

Chocolate Spice Snickerdoodles

Okay, being December 24th, you could be down to the wire on Christmas preparations and find yourself without a single cookie to put our for Santa this evening. Of course, with all the fad diets out there, he might be on a low-carb regime but . . . in order to take no chances, this is a relatively quick recipe that always produces good results.

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

3 cups sugar
1 cup softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, blending well. Add flour, cocoa, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

Combine the 4 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Measure out 1/4 cups of dough and form into balls. Roll balls in cinnamon/sugar mixture and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until set. Remove immediately from baking sheets onto a cooling rack.

Makes approximately 3 ½ dozen big cookies. Can be made smaller but be sure to adjust baking time.

Christmas Cookie Baking!

Practiced some holiday baking during the week. Our church had an Advent Festival so I brought in some homemade treats for them to sell. For the first time in a couple of years, I baked with wheat flour and enjoyed it quite a bit! Yes, I can duplicate just about any wheat flour recipe using gluten-free ‘flour’ blends but it was nice to go back to my old methods just for the day.

I had another reason for bringing wheat flour offerings. My husband is gluten-sensitive so having wheat flour in the house doesn’t bother him unless he eats anything made from it. However, people with celiac can be effected by just being around wheat products and since my home is not thoroughly ‘cleansed’ of all that is gluten, I don’t like to advertise my treats as being gluten-free when they might not be safe for someone with more sensitive issues.

I am able to just about replicate a good loaf of bread without using wheat flour now, but it was great to just through together a ‘regular’ batch and get the feel of the real deal under my hands. I suppose that might account for the fact that I kind of went overboard in my baking . . . just having too much fun!

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Christmas Cookie Recipes!

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.

 

Fiesta 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.

Christmas Cookies – Cinnamon Lemon Spiral Cookies

Almost like a cinnamon roll! Perfect for a holiday breakfast addition or just to have around for snacking during the holidays. Would also make a nice statement on a Christmas cookie plate.

Cinnamon Lemon Spiral Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cups granulated sugar
2 cups butter
1 tablespoon (packet) yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup scalded milk, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

I cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of cloves
Zest of one lemon, finely grated

In a large mixing box, combine Flour ½ cup sugar and cut in the butter until it resembles peas in size. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm 1/4 cup of water and all it to the milk, vanilla, and eggs, mixing together well. Add to the flour mixture and mix into a ball of dough. Cover with greased/vegetable oil sprayed plastic wrap and refrigerate eight hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or use light coating of vegetable oil spray.

On a well-floured board, roll out the dough into a rectangle about one-quarter thick. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and lemon zest and sprinkle liberally over the rolled out dough. Roll the dough up along the long size, pinch the edges closed and roll onto the seamed side. Cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch slices (thinner is crisper/thicker is more cake-like) Place cut slices on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven and the thickness of your cookies. Cool a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet. Glaze cookies while still a bit warm.

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon or so of finely grated lemon zest
Enough fresh lemon juice to form a glaze.