CHRISTMAS COOKIES

This past Christmas, for the first time since I had kids, I managed to bake Christmas cookies in sufficient quantities to share.  Usually I’d get one batch made, the family would eat them all, and that was the end of that.  I was so pleased with my cookie trays that I think I tore my rotator cuff patting myself on the back.

The cookies didn’t go quite as far as I’d planned, however, because we had a slight incident here.  The heater in our garage apartment had been acting up, and one day while I was out shopping I got a call from the police that our alarm company notified them that our smoke detector had gone off and the temperature in the garage apartment was 120 degrees.  I raced home to find 3 firemen and 2 policemen in my garage apartment, playing with my worthless watchdogs.  It really was 120 degrees — they said they’d never seen a room that hot that wasn’t on fire.  I think it was too hot even for hot yoga.   It turned out to be a broken heat relay (maybe) or thermostat (maybe) — we replaced both just in case.  Anyway, after shutting off the heater, we all came downstairs, and as I stood there in my kitchen surrounded by 5 very nice policemen and firemen, all I could think to do was offer them the Christmas cookies I’d been baking for the past two weeks, which to my delight, they gladly accepted.  So I packed them up a HUGE tin, and sent them off with profuse thanks and warm wishes.

Several of my cookies were recipes that I tried for the first time this year.  They were great, but in my opinion, they’re all keepers.  So, for posterity’s sake, and because cookies aren’t just for the holidays, here are my 2017 Christmas cookies with links to the recipes.

Clockwise from the top:  Favorite Ginger Cookies, Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies, Split Seconds, Double Coconut Macaroons, Cinnamon Pinwheels, Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies, Cream Cheese Spritz, and Golden Pecan Balls in the center.

Favorite Ginger Cookies

Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies

Split Seconds

Double Coconut Macaroons

Cinnamon Pinwheels

Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

Cream Cheese Spritz

Golden Pecan Balls

CHEWY DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

These intensely chocolate cookies with a chewy texture were a big hit.  Use good quality bittersweet chocolate for best results.

CHEWY DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
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Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ cup sugar, plus ½ cup extra for rolling cookies in
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla.
  3. Place the butter, brown sugar, and ⅓ cup sugar in a large bowl and beat using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the corn syrup mixture and beat until combined. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and chocolate, and mix just until combined. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Place ½ cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough into 1" balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place on cookie sheet approximately 2" apart, and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until cookies are cracked but still look wet between cracks. Allow to cool briefly on sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

SPLIT SECONDS

My Mom used to make jam-filled Split Seconds every year at the holidays.  These were one of her favorites because in addition to tasting good, you can bang out 4 dozen in no time.  When I looked up the recipe, I was surprised to see it was actually a Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe from 1954.  These added a little bit of nostalgia to my cookie trays this year.
SPLIT SECONDS
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Recipe type: Cookies
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup jam or preserves
  • Optional glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat using an electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg until well blended. Add flour and baking powder, and beat on low speed until dough forms.
  3. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, shape each portion into 12x3/4-inch roll. Place rolls on cookie sheet. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or your finger, make an indentation lengthwise down the center of each roll approximately ½ inch wide and ¼ inch deep. Be careful not to press all the way through the dough. Fill the indentation in each roll with approximately 2 tablespoons preserves (it is easier to spoon preserves if you warm them slightly in microwave). Don't overfill indentations.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing diagonally into 12 cookies. If using optional glaze, do so before slicing the cookies. Make the glaze by whisking the confectioner's sugar together with enough milk to make a smooth drizzle, not too runny. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Allow glaze to set before slicing and storing.

Fill the indentations with your favorite jam

Allow to cool slightly before cutting on the diagonal

Drizzled with glaze

Especially nice with tea

PISTACHIO CRANBERRY ICEBOX COOKIES

With the red and green from the cranberries and pistachios, this is an obvious choice for Christmas cookies.  The dough is a little bit of a hassle to work with — very crumbly — but the end result is worth it because these are wonderful.  The recipe is slightly adapted from Liz The Chef, who in turn, adapted the recipe from Gourmet.

PISTACHIO CRANBERRY ICEBOX COOKIES
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Recipe type: Cookies
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup coarse or sparkling sugar
Instructions
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, orange juice, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt, and continue to beat on low speed until the dough comes together in clumps. Mix in pistachios and cranberries.
  2. Gather the dough together and divide into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into a log approximately 1-1/2 inches thick. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the coarse or sparkling sugar onto a plate. Brush each log with the beaten egg, then roll in the sugar. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into ¼-inch slices, and place on cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until edges of the cookies are lightly golden, approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove to racks to cool.