Starting with Thanksgiving, we enter the “stuff your face” days of the calendar year. Some people refer to this as the “holiday season,” me, I just think of it as the guilt myself into a meaningful New Year’s Resolution that I will abandon season.
No matter what you call it, this is a season of sweets and good food, so Days 6 and 5 on my list will consist of some of my favorite goodies. Some you’ll need to make, some you can go buy.
This list is dedicated to Christmas Cookies and Holiday themed desserts.
6. Sourdough Cookies (with or without frosting)
This is a staple in my parent’s household. I can remember decorating and cutting these cookies when I was a child, all the way up to my adult years. Pretty simple to make and taste pretty delightful with milk.
Sourdough Sugar Cookies Recipe:
Yields: 3 to 5 dozen depending on size
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract or almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sourdough starter*
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, cream vegetable shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs, lemon or almond extract, and vanilla extract until mixture is fluffy. Stir in sourdough starter; set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into sourdough mixture. Refrigerate dough, covered, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured board, roll dough to 1/4-inch thick; cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. When cool, frost with Lemon-Milk Frosting and decorate as desired.
Yields 3 to 5 dozen cookies (depending on the size of cookie you make).
Courtesy of What’s Cooking America. Full recipe and frosting recipe found here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cookie/SourSugarCookies.htm
5. Gingerbread Cookies (not necessarily men, but whatever)
Though we don’t make them often, the smell of Gingerbread cookies being made is delightful and should really be captured in a fragrance to spray if it has not happened yet.
Here is Alex Guarnashelli’s recipe from Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipe-collections/gingerbread-cookie/index.html
1 1/2 sticks lightly salted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 orange, zested
The dry ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup additional for rolling, if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
The wet ingredients:
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 lemon, juiced
Easy Orange Frosting, recipe follows
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, add the butter, sugar and orange zest and beat until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk to blend. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses and lemon juice.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the butter and sugar are integrated, lower the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Add the egg mixture and when blended, remove the bowl from the machine. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press the first half of the dough in between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the second half. This step will make it easier to finish rolling out the dough when it has chilled. It will also mean you only have half of the dough getting warm as you roll it.
Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the first half of the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly flour the cookie cutter(s) and cut the shapes, making as few scraps as possible. Use a metal spatula to gently transfer them, cookie by cookie, (the cookies should be similar size) to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough and transfer them to another baking sheet. A note about crowding the tray(s): these particular cookies can spread a little. Leave room between the cookies. Better to use 3 baking sheets with fewer cookies than to crowd them on 2 trays. Bake until brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.
Got scraps? Form the scraps into a ball, press it flat and chill in the refrigerator. These cookies may be a little more “tough” because the dough will have been worked a little more than the others.
Why not have a little frosting on your gingerbread
Easy Orange Frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
In a medium bowl add all of the ingredients and whisk together to combine. If too thick in consistency, add a touch more orange juice or water to thin out.
Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe the frosting between 2 of the gingerbread cookies. Press the 2 cookies halves gently together.
4. Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies
These are easy to make – I mean, Pillsbury takes all the work out it for you with their Break-n-Bake line.
This is the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Recipe as found on Very Best Baking’s website (http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/original-nestl%C3%89-toll-house-chocolate-chip-cookies/detail.aspx)
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
• 1 cup chopped nuts
PREHEAT oven to 375° F
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.
SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION:
PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.
3. Monkey Bread
Not always featured around this time of the year, and can be made all year round, Monkey Bread is just a great addition to the dessert table for any Christmas party.
My sister-in-law makes the best version of this dish, but here is the official Grands! Recipe from Pillsbury: (http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/grands-monkey-bread/7a1e41b1-4708-4028-8ce6-fcb5baebbc19)
• 25 min
• Total time 1 hr 5 mins
• Ingredients 7
• Servings 12
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
2. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
3. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
Now here is the hard part – I put this list in order of what I like/prefer, so really, at least to me, there is no #2 on this list as both of these next two are absolute favorites of mine and are typically found around this time of the year.
2. White Fudge Oreo’s
It’s an Oreo dipped in white fudge. They are usually only found during the winter months and are addictive and so bad for you…BUT THEY TASTE AMAZING!
There’s no physical baking or cooking for you to do. It’s just finding them at your local grocery or drug store and buying them.
1. Peanut Butter No Bake, featuring Special K
First of all, not THAT Special K – unless you were thinking of the bran cereal from Kellogg’s, then yes, that one.
These are one of my favorite cookies that are made pretty much every year by my mother. I’ve tried making them before and I don’t have her powers (read: patience and attention to detail and touch). But yeah, these are amazing.
There’s really not much to this recipe:
SPECIAL K COOKIES (NO-BAKE)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. clear light Karo syrup
1 (12 oz.) jar chunky peanut butter
4 c. Special K cereal
Bring sugar and Karo syrup to a boil. Add peanut butter. Pour over 4 cups Special K cereal. Blend. While warm drop by spoonful on waxed paper. Let cool.
You’ve still got time this weekend to kick out some cool treats for holiday gatherings!