Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cookie Baking Frenzy!

Yes, frenzy is the only way to describe my recent cookie baking. In the last week I've baked 9 batches of cookies... and six varies among those batches! I baked four types last Sunday, and after giving them to my 3 coworkers as a Christmas gifts I already determined I needed to bake more. That lead to one batch on Thursday, one on Saturday, and three more today. Does this sound like a math problem to anyone else?!

I have enjoyed this baking immensely, though, because I really don't usually bake as much as I would like. Joe and I are not frequent sweet eaters (ok, I am not... he might be!). And living in Chicago means I have to carry treats on the train with me if I'm going to try to share them with coworkers, which is a pain in the neck. Therefore, I tend to put more of my energy into cooking. But this Christmas has been an excuse to coat my kitchen in flour and really get my oven working. I'll share a few recipes today, and save some for another post.

These three recipes are all from my mom. She has a great collection of Christmas cookie recipes that make their appearance each year, so I knew she was my first source for ideas. Each of these cookies was just the crowd pleaser I remembered. Maybe because of the pounds of butter?? But what better time then -28 degree windchill (no joke) to add a little extra insulating body far? The jam thumb prints were the most popular, and the almond extract gave them that extra special flavor. My favorites are the toffee bars, and of course the snowballs are classic. If you've shared some holiday cookies on your blog, let me know. I have a feeling my crazy holiday baking is not over quite yet!

Grandma's Christmas Snowballs

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla to blend. Mix in flour and salt. For the nuts you can use walnuts right out of the bag - you can toast the walnuts first for a nuttier flavor - or, my favorite, you can use pecans and toast them first. Chop them pretty fine then add to batter.

Form into small balls. Bake at 325 15 or so minutes. Depends on your oven. Here I have to turn them up a bit and a bit of time. You might want to start with 15 mins at 325 and see if you need more time.

Toffee Bars
(From Virginia Hospitality cookbook)

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup nuts chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour gradually stirring to blend. Add vanilla. Spread about 1/4 inch thick into 10 x 15 jellyroll pan (I use the big pyrex baking dish and it works just fine). Bake 20-25 mins. until golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle choc. chips on top. Let them melt to soft spreading consistency. Smooth chocolate over surface and sprinkle nuts over top. Pat nuts down lightly with your hand. Cut into bars while still slightly warm.

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints
(From the Land 'O Lakes butter carton years ago!)

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam

Heat oven to 350. Combine sugar, butter , and almond extract and beat until creamy. Add flour until well mixed. Shape into 1"balls then make thumbprint. Fill hole with jam. Bake 14-18 mins. Cool then glaze.

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 or so tsp.almond extract
2-3 tsp water.

I don't always glaze them and they are still good. If you are going to freeze them don't glaze. I've done it and they turn pink! But you can freeze them then defrost and glaze before you serve them.


Chris said...

I can't help but notice that in your entire post about Christmas cookies, there is no mention of the kickass Christmas snickerdoodles I sent you.

Anonymous said...

Oh YUM! They all look DELICIOUS!

Joelen said...

Everything looks great Erin! I especially am eyeing those toffee bars!

Darius T. Williams said...

Definitely a cookie frenzy - but they look amazing!


A World in a PAN said...

Greetings from Paris!
Have a Happy and Healthy 2009!

GirlyFruFru said...

love your blog and the food looks Yummy !!