Annual Cookie Review

Annual Cookie Review

In case you haven’t noticed, the last twelve posts have been a very brief monthly wrap-up combined with a cookie recipe.  Here is a list of all the posts:

January-Hot Cocoa Cookies

February-Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

March-Cream Cheese Almond Bars

April-Sugar Cookie Bears

May-Peppermint Swirls

June-Candy Cane Thumbprints

July-Orange Shortbread

August-Mexican Wedding Cakes

September-Peanut Butter Pretzels

October-Citrus Gumdrops

November-Chocolate Crinkles

December-Gingerbread

There are several other holiday treats that didn’t make this year’s list, so if you ate something at my house and I didn’t share the recipe, let me know and I’ll put it up!

 

Gingerbread

Gingerbread

December 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #12

A favorite photo…

A few highlights…

  • A December rich in favorite activities and traditions (in contrast to our Senegalese adventure from last year)
  • Nathan as Gabriel and Katya as a black sheep in the Christmas pageant
  • The annual studio Christmas recital
  • Celebrating the season many different times with groups of family and friends

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
December in Review
This is the gingerbread I have made every year since Than and I were married. If you don't roll it too thin or bake it too long, the cookies stay soft and spicy for weeks. We decorate them with white royal icing, sprinkles, and lots of red hots. An annual tradition, for sure, and one that we have happily shared with many different guests over the years.
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly stir together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the brown sugar, butter, and oil until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and 2 1/2 Tbsp. water until well blended.
  3. Turn mixer speed to low and blend in as much of the flour mixture as possible. When it gets too strong for your mixer to handle, knead in the remainder by hand until the dough is smooth and shiny. If the dough is too stiff and dry, add up to 3 Tbsp. more water. If it is too soft, stir in more flour until it is manageable.
  4. Cut 6 pieces of waxed paper. Split the dough into 3 pieces and place each piece on a sheet of waxed paper. Cover with the additional 3 pieces of waxed paper. Roll each dough piece out to an even 1/4-1/2 inch thickness (thinner for crispier cookies, thicker for softer cookies). Stack the rolled dough in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray several cookie sheets with cooking spray.
  6. Working with one portion of dough at a time, peel off the top sheet of waxed paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out the dough and place the cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 6-12 minutes, or until just darker at the edges and barely firm when pressed in the centers. Baking time varies based on the size of your cookies and on how soft or crispy you want the finished product to be.
  8. Reroll dough scraps between waxed paper sheets. Continue cutting, rolling, and chilling dough until everything has been used.
  9. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes in order to firm up slightly before transferring to the counter or to wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Wait until cookies are completely cool before decorating as desired.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.

Share this Recipe
Chocolate Crinkles

Chocolate Crinkles

November 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #11

A favorite photo…

A few highlights…

  • A 90th birthday party for Grandpa Train
  • A second story for the treehouse
  • Thanksgiving road trip to Salt Lake, San Francisco, and back again

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Chocolate Crinkles
I got this recipe from my sister-in-law and have loved it ever since. Katya requested "just plain dark chocolate cookies" this year, and these always fit the bill.
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix oil, cocoa, and sugar well in a large mixer bowl.
  2. Blend in one egg at a time until mixed well. Add vanilla.
  3. Gradually blend in flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Chill dough for several hours (overnight is best).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease several cookie sheets.
  6. Use a cookie scoop or teaspoon to shape dough. Roll dough in sugar (either granulated or powdered) and place on prepared sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes, until set and tops begin to crack. Don't overbake. These are best soft!
Share this Recipe
 
Gumdrops

Gumdrops

October 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #10

A favorite photo…

 

A few highlights…

  • The tree house begins
  • Family Fun night with all of us dressed in flamenco style

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Citrus Gumdrops
These are the Christmas treat that Nathan requests the most. When they turn out correctly, they make a lovely green and red addition to a cookie plate or a popular gift item. The temperatures are tricky, however, and I have had plenty of failed batches amidst the successes.
Course Candy
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Course Candy
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil, covering bottom and sides completely. Spray lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the 1 cup sugar and the corn syrup. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring often with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar. Carefully clip on a candy thermometer.
  3. Cook over medium heat (mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface), stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 280 degrees F (soft-crack stage), about 7 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in another heavy bottomed saucepan, combine juice, pectin, and baking soda. Mixture will be foamy. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring often. This should take about 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside.
  5. When sugar mixture in first pan has reached soft-crack stage, remove from heat. Remove candy thermometer. Return pectin mixture in second pan to boiling.
  6. Gradually pour the hot sugar mixture into the boiling pectin mixture, stirring constantly. This step should take 1-2 minutes. Don't rush! Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.
  7. Remove saucepan from heat. Pour candy mixture into prepared loaf pan. Let stand until firm--overnight is best.
  8. While candy cools, make the flavored sugar. Place 1/2 cup sugar and the zest of the lime or grapefruit in a food processor. Pulse several times to combine well. Transfer flavored sugar to a bowl or lidded Tupperware.
  9. When candy has set, use foil to lift it out of the pan. With a wet knife, cut candy into strips and then cut each strip into cubes. Toss squares in the flavored sugar to keep them from sticking together.
Recipe Notes

The gumdrops (if they turn out) keep well for several weeks.

Share this Recipe
Peanut Butter Pretzels

Peanut Butter Pretzels

September 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #9

A favorite photo…

A few highlights…

  • Family getaway to Santa Fe, NM
  • 10th annual ride on Thomas the Tank Engine

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Peanut Butter Pretzels
These have been a Christmas standby for 10 years now! I make a double batch and keep them in the refrigerator all month for gift giving. (And of course, plenty of munching too!)
Course Candy
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Course Candy
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Grind graham crackers and club crackers into crumbs using the food processor, if you haven't already.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the peanut butter and butter until well mixed.
  3. Add both kinds of cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Blend well. Mixture will be very thick.
  4. Using your hands, roll mixture into small balls about the diameter of a dime and press each on a pretzel. Put the pretzels on a waxed-paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Refrigerate the pretzels at least one hour to firm up the PB mixture.
  6. Melt chocolate and shortening in a mixing cup in the microwave.
  7. Dip the top (the PB part) of each pretzel into the melted chocolate and place back on the waxed paper.
  8. Refrigerate again to set the chocolate, and then stack in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until serving.
Recipe Notes

Since I make this at Christmas time, I often stop plenty of times in the process.  You can refrigerate the peanut butter mixture before pressing it on the pretzels or leave the undipped pretzels in the fridge for a day or two before coating in chocolate.

Share this Recipe
 
Candy Cane Thumbprints

Candy Cane Thumbprints

June 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #6

A favorite photo…

 

A few highlights…

  • Nathan turns 11
  • Super fun vacation Bible school with an international missions theme
  • Katya finishes Suzuki Piano Book 1
  • Summer backyard barbeques begin
  • Extended family comes for a weekend to watch Beauty and the Beast on stage

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Candy Cane Thumbprints
I got this recipe from a fellow pastor's wife at a cookie exchange many years ago. Even though there is no chocolate involved, they still end up as one of my favorites each Christmas! I always double the recipe when I make it, and then freeze half of the finished cookies for eating later in the month.
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Peppermint Filling
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Peppermint Filling
Instructions
  1. Beat butter for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar and salt and cream well. Add egg and vanilla.
  2. Mix in flour until well combined. Cover dough and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned just around the edges.
  4. Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, use the back of a rounded measuring spoon or a melon baller to make an indent in the center of each cookie. Allow to cool completely.
  5. While cookies are cool, mix peppermint filling ingredients together. DON'T ADD THE CANDY CANES! Whip everything else well to form a soft, fluffy icing that holds its shape.
  6. When cookies are cool, spoon filling into indents and then sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top.
Recipe Notes

Cookies can be stored at room temperature for several days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Share this Recipe
 
Mexican Wedding Cakes

Mexican Wedding Cakes

August 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #8

A favorite photo…

A few highlights…

  • Local park adventures with friends
  • Watching the summer Olympics
  • Squeezing in some final fun craft projects before school
  • Back to School for a 6th grader and a 3rd grader

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Mexican Wedding Cakes
These are one of Katya's Christmas favorites. The recipe is too big to double in my mixer, but it still makes a generous amount. I use the instructions from my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but I know this is a common one that comes from many places.
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. To make superfine sugar, process 1/3 cup sugar in food processor for about 30 seconds. I usually process 1 cup or more and store it in a jar for future use.
  3. Put the 1/3 cup superfine sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, along with the butter. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and mix well.
  5. Process 1 cup of nuts in a food processor to the texture of coarse cornmeal, about 10-15 seconds. Dump into the butter mixture and barely stir in.
  6. Process the remaining 1 cup of nuts until just coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds. Add them to dough and barely mix.
  7. Stir in flour and salt and blend just until the dough becomes cohesive.
  8. Working with a scant Tbsp. of dough at a time, roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheets.
  9. Bake at 325 degrees until the tops are pale golden and the bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes.
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes. Place powdered sugar in a lidded tupperware container or bowl.
  11. Roll warm or room temperature cookies, 3-4 at a time, in powdered sugar to coat well. Store at room temperature for a week or more. If desired, roll in additional powdered sugar just before serving.
Recipe Notes

This dough can easily be shaped and frozen, then baked at a later time.  Just add 2-4 minutes to the baking time.

Share this Recipe
 
Orange Shortbread

Orange Shortbread

July 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #7

A favorite photo…

A few highlights…

  • Annual 4th of July trip to Idaho
  • Fireworks in Idaho
  • Time on my aunt and uncle’s beautiful Idaho “farm”
  • Lazy days of summer

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Orange Shortbread
These lovely cookies were a big new favorite on my 2016 cookie trays. They involved learning how to candy orange peels, and the chocolate dipped candied orange peel was even more popular than this chocolate dipped orange shortbread cookie! Both the candied peels and the cookies made from them will become Christmas gift staples.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth.
  2. Beat in the salt and flour until large clumps form.
  3. Add orange peel, zest, juice, and vanilla. Mix well and press the dough into a tight ball.
  4. Shape according to how you want your slices to come out (rectangles, squares, rounds, wedges), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and place on cookie sheet with enough space between for spreading.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely on cooling racks.
  7. Melt chocolate gently and stir in a bit of shortening to temper it if desired. Dip cooled cookies in chocolate or drizzle with chocolate and let cool until chocolate sets.
Recipe Notes

Original recipe, found via Pinterest: http://userealbutter.com/2008/06/11/chocolate-dipped-orange-peel-cookies-recipe/

*People have had issues with the candied orange peel turning hard during baking. To remedy this, when you make your candied orange peel, store the peels in the syrup rather than drying the individual orange peel slices. You can dry the ones that you want to turn into orangettes, but for this recipe, keep them soft and moist in the syrup. This should help with the texture when baking.  Even peel stored in syrup will gradually harden, but it will take longer!

Here's a link to good instructions for making the candied peel: http://tiphero.com/candied-orange-peel/  I did it just like this, except I didn't toss the finished peel in additional sugar.  I just spread all that sticky goodness out to dry and left it in the spare bedroom for a few days!  The peels got less bitter after sitting for a while, and are good with or without the chocolate.  (But of course, everything is better with chocolate...)

Share this Recipe
 
Peppermint Swirls

Peppermint Swirls

May 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #5

A favorite photo…

 

A few highlights…

  • School year ends
  • A family wedding with lots of festivities
  • Visit to St. Louis, complete with a backyard Senegalese meal and lots of good family time

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Peppermint Swirls
These pretty mint swirls are fun to make with kids, since they can help with the rolling and swirling. They make a colorful addition to Christmas platters. The recipe originally came from Light and Tasty magazine.
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  2. Divide dough into thirds. Stir red food coloring into one portion of dough; stir green food coloring into another portion. Leave remaining dough plain. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Divide each portion of dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-in. rope. Place a red, a green and a plain rope next to each other. Cut through all three ropes at 1-in. intervals, forming sets of three differently colored doughs. Repeat.
  4. Roll each set of doughs into a ball; place balls 3 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten to 1/8-in. thickness with a glass dipped in additional sugar. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Share this Recipe
 
Sugar Cookie Bears

Sugar Cookie Bears

April 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #4

A favorite photo…

 

A few highlights…

  • Buddy Bear turns 10
  • Spring piano recital

And a cookie recipe to go with it!

Print Recipe
Sugar Cookie Bears
This sugar cookie recipe is the one my mom used every year for Christmas cookies. It is easy to work with, stays soft, and tastes really good. This year, the fun part was turning the sugar cookie dough into cute little bears!! (As an added bonus, that meant I didn't have to frost them when they were done.) You can find the link to the original bear instructions at the bottom of this recipe.
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream together. Mix well.
  2. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until evenly combined.
  3. Divide dough into 4-5 pieces. Place each piece onto a sheet of waxed paper. Cover with an additional sheet of waxed paper and roll to 1/4-1/2 inch thick. (Thicker cookies use more dough, but stay soft longer and are sturdier). Chill for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  4. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Use a bear shaped cutter to cut out the dough and transfer the shapes to the sheets. Gently press a whole nut into the center of each cookie. Fold the arms securely over the nut. (If the arms fall off, just press them back on!) Use a toothpick to poke in eyes and a nose.
  5. Bake bears at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until set but just barely beginning to brown. Let cool on sheets for a few minutes before moving.
  6. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Cookies should stay soft for a week or more.
Recipe Notes
Share this Recipe