“Think about what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for nap.” ~ Robert Fulgham
It’s holiday cookie time. This tradition is deeply rooted in history as it originated in the Medieval period, when cooks baked sweet foods to mark special occasions. When ingredients and spices like dried fruits, black pepper, cinnamon and ginger were introduced in the Middle Ages, these items became incorporated into the baked goods and thus, the Christmas cookie was born. Many of the recipes and ingredients that comprised the holiday traditions during those times have remained unchanged today.
The traditional Christmas cookie “swap” that many people participate in originated in the 1960s when it was suggested in a Betty Crocker cookbook that women hold a cookie exchange party.
“A Party Idea: A popular once-a-year party is the Christmas cooky swap party. Friends and neighbors gather, each bringing one dozen of her holiday specialty for each woman at the party. Cookies are set out to sample and admire and coffee is served. Afterward each one takes home a wonderful variety of festive cookies.”
—Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, facsimile reprint of 1963 edition [Hungry Minds:New York] 2002 (p. 37)
Personally, I have never participated in a cookie swap and find making cookies a daunting and dreadful task. There are so many things that could go wrong, and they usually do if I am the one that is baking. You have to be mindful of so many details when baking and take great care when deviating from any ingredient or measurement. This year I made it a goal to make some of my favorite cookies to prove to myself that I was capable of baking.
Here are some recipes that I have tried and perfected. They’re pretty easy and drama free. The first recipe is for my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. Since I was a little girl, this has been my family’s favorite and traditional Christmas cookie. My mom, who also lacks a love of baking, makes these cookies every year and we devour them. When I asked her for the secret recipe, she replied, “Oh, I just follow the recipe on the back of the bag of Nestle Semisweet Morsels.” She left out one important detail: USE CRISCO INSTEAD OF REAL BUTTER FOR THESE CHOCOLATE CHIPS. If you don’t have crisco or shortening, my aunt’s advice for perfect chocolate chips is to follow the Nestle’s recipe but add an additional 1/4 cup of flour and chill the batter for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking in the oven. Otherwise, you will end up with chocolate chips that look like this:
when you really want chocolate chips that look like this:
My Mother’s Fairytale Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of Crisco shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)
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.
Fairytale Raspberry Pecan Thumbprints
(Yields around 24)
This recipe is a slightly altered version of Martha Stewart’s Iced Thumbprint Cookies, which can be found here on her website. These thumbprints are buttery, nutty and extremely rich. I love them for that!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 jar of seedless raspberry jam
- Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour, salt, and pecans. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 325. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls, and space 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Press thumb into center of each cookie. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven; press centers with the end of a wooden spoon. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets.
- Fill the cookies with the raspberry jam as you serve them. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Fairytale Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
This unique recipe for spiced chocolate cookies is from Everyday Food. It’s different and delicious with the addition of chili powder. It can be found on Martha Stewart’s website.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder (if using). Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.).
Fairytale Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Yields a little over 24 cookies.)
This is a fool proof Betty Crocker website that comes straight from their Sugar Cookie mix. Mint chocolate chip is my favorite flavor of ice cream and is on its way to becoming one of my favorite cookies! This is also a great recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. (March really isn’t that far away. Save this!)
1 pouch of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract
6 to 8 drops of greed food color
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips (Look for Andes, available at Walmart).
1 cup of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.
- Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
|Low Sugar Kisses. Mine are a little disfigured, but taste great!
Fairytale Orange Dark Chocolate Kisses
(Low Sugar Recipe)
(Yields 36 cookies)
This is a low sugar recipe, adopted from Better Homes and Gardens, that great for diabetics or people who are just trying to be a little bit healthier this holiday season. I didn’t make my cookies big enough for the chocolate chips – so make sure you don’t follow my lead! But they taste great.
cup tub-style vegetable oil spread1/4
cup butter, softened2/3
cup sugar or sugar substitute blend* equivalent to 2/3 cup sugar1
teaspoon baking powder1/8
cups all-purpose flour1-1/2
teaspoons finely shredded orange peel40
dark chocolate kisses
1. In a large bowl, combine vegetable oil spread and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until very light and fluffy, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg white. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the orange peel. If necessary, cover and chill about 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes or just until edges are set and bottoms are very lightly browned.
3. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool. Makes about 40 cookies.
|Christmas Cookie goodie bag! A nice party favor for your holiday guests. If you are making thumbprints, be sure to wrap them separately in saran wrap first.
|Santa, we’re ready for you!