Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I have gotten several requests this week for some of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Those who know Matt and I well know that we love to bake this time of year. Before we had Little Lady, we would take an entire weekend and bake batches and batches of cookies, then give them away to our close friends. We've had to cut back some the last couple years. It's just not feasible to do as many as we used to, but in five years of baking Christmas cookies, here is a collection of some of our favorite recipes.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Crackers
One of our favorite things to do is dip things in white chocolate/almond bark. My mama has been doing these for years, and everyone always loves them.
Toll House Crackers (we always use the oval ones but round Ritz ones would work as well)
Peanut Butter
White Chocolate or Almond Bark

All you do is make little peanut butter sandwiches with the crackers and peanut butter then dip them in melted white chocolate, making sure they are completely covered. If we are really feeling festive we decorate them with sprinkles, but it's not necessary. Easy and delicious!

We also like dipping Oreo's in melted white chocolate.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups brown sugar                              1 Tbsp. hot water
1 cup white sugar                                 2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups shortening                           2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup peanut butter                           2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs                                                   2 cups chocolate chips
5 cups flour                                           M&M candies (optional)
2 1/4 cups oatmeal

Mix sugars, shortening, peanut butter, eggs, hot water and vanilla. Mix well. Stir together baking powder, salt, flour and oatmeal. Add to first mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Press M&M's on top. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

This recipe is from a cookbook from one of my aunt's church. At Christmastime, we use red and green M&M's and white chocolate chips. Just to be more festive.

Cut-out Sugar Cookies
We have tried lots of sugar cookies in the past and these, from Peppermint Plum, are our favorite ones.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. baking soda
5 1/2 cups flour

In mixer, cream butter and sugar, and then add eggs and vanilla. Add sour cream. Combine salt, soda, and flour, and add to mixture. (When we made these we had to chill the dough a little and add quite a bit more flour to get them ready to roll out).

Roll out on floured surface to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.

Use a spatula to carefully slide under each cookie and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes.
But don't give in to your temptation to cook "just a little bit longer" or you will get crunchy cookies instead of soft, pillow-like cookies. (However, you do need to make sure they ARE done. We followed this advice a little too closely and had a couple batches that were still mostly raw.)

Grandma Miller's Drop Sugar Cookies
These are my all time favorite sugar cookies from a recipe from my grandma, but they are not the kind that can be rolled and cut out. They are very tasty though and freeze really well.

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups crisco
- Cream sugar and crisco together
1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
- Mix together and add to creamed mixture
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
5 tsp. baking powder
5 cups flour
- Mix together and add to sugar mixture 
- Bake at 350 for 8 minutes (teaspoon sized).

Icing for Sugar Cookies
We use this for both types of sugar cookies. It does have egg whites in it. If you don't like that, just use your favorite icing recipe.

2/3 cup crisco
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. powdered sugar (more or less as needed)

Mix together and frost cookies.

White Chocolate Candy Cane Drops
8 ounces white chocolate baking squares (or white chocolate chips)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes or peppermint candies

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Chop 4 ounces of the white chocolate (unless using chocolate chips); set aside. In a small saucepan heat and stir the remaining 4 ounces of white chocolate over low heat until smooth. Set aside to let chocolate cool slightly.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in melted white chocolate. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour, the chopped white chocolate, and crushed candy canes.

3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

Holiday Snowball Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
1 2/3 cups Nestle Swirled Holiday Morsels (we haven't been able to find these the last couple years so we have just used white chocolate chips)
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375. 

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt together until creamy. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in morsels and nuts. Shape tablespoons of dough into 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. 

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired.

A sampling of cookies. The middle ones are the snowballs.

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies
I just discovered these cookies this year, but I love them! The recipe is from sally's baking addiction. It says you can chill the dough for up to 3 days, but if I had that dough in my refrigerator for 3 days, there would be no cookies left to bake! It's irresistible!
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
Line an ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.
In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides as needed.  On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Stir in white chocolate chips & dried cranberries. Chill dough (covered) for 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 350F.  Drop balls of dough (1.5 tablespoons each) onto cookie sheet OR used a standard-sized cookie scoop. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  Do NOT cook them longer than 9 minutes.   Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet.  

Transfer to cooling rack.

*Do not drop dough onto warm cookie sheets.  Allow cookie sheets to cool completely between batches.

Hope you enjoy some of these cookies. We definitely consume too much sugar in the Wagner home during the holidays, but it's only for a month and only once a year. Plus it's something we all enjoy doing together! If you have a favorite cookie recipe, please share! We will be baking cookies for many Christmases to come.  

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