12 Days of Christmas: Cookies

One of my favorite holiday activities is making cookies.  Not just sugar cookies (which I’ll be devoting an entire post to later this week,) but cookies that evoke my favorite flavors of the season – citrus, berry and molasses.

One of the earliest memories I have of being in the kitchen, (besides pouring a bowl of cereal) is making cookies.  My favorite cookie was the Original Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookie, but my favorite snacking dough was oatmeal.  (Mostly because, I justified, the oatmeal made the dough MUCH healthier.)  I actually remember babysitting (I think I was around 17 at the time) and after putting the kids to bed I still had another four hours to go before their mom came home.  I decided I needed a snack but all I could find in the kitchen was oatmeal, butter, sugar, flour and eggs.  (Seriously, were these children deprived?  Maybe I should have taken a more through inventory before accepting the job.) I whipped up a batch of oatmeal cookie dough and voila!  My sweet tooth was satisfied.

Being the semi-professional cookie baker that I am, I have found two tools so indispensable to the cookie making process I don’t know how I ever go along without them – parchment paper and a cooling rack.  The former makes cleaning up so EASY (and helps the cookies bake evenly, I swear) and the latter keeps the cookies from sticking to the countertop and breaking (and helps the cookies cool faster, I swear!)

Anyway, at Christmastime I love to break out all of the recipes I only make once a year.  (I don’t know why – I guess they’re kinda like stuffing for me, I love them but don’t ever think to make them.)  My favorites are Raspberry Ribbons, Brown Sugar Christmas Trees, Cranberry-Orange Cookies and Molasses Cookies.  The first three are from an article in The Seattle Times dated Wednesday, December 7, 1994.  I know this because when I cut the recipes out and pasted them in my notebook (which is now 16 years old and is effectively a personal history and chronicle of my cooking tastes, ability and food trends – kinda neat, huh?) I also cut out the masthead from the newspaper.  I used to love looking through my great-grandmothers’ recipe cards to see just how old they were and where they originated from and now Madison flips through this book.  She can’t believe I actually have cookie recipes that are twice her age!  Ironically, the last of the four cookie recipes mentioned above – the Molasses Cookies – is my great-grandmothers recipe.

Since I usually make so many different types of cookies (I’m only talking about my top four here but I have been known to make at least 10 different types of cookies at once and pass plates out as gifts – I don’t recommend it,) I don’t usually double the recipes.  This is so we aren’t eating cookies until New Year’s – although that rarely happens.  Most of them are gone by Christmas Eve and since all of them go well with coffee, just as many are eaten for breakfast as they are dessert.

Because the recipes are pretty long, I’ll only post my two absolute favorites now but feel free to comment if you want me to send you the others.

Molasses Cookies, 36 cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
½ cup molasses
1 egg
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each – cloves, ginger and salt
¾ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Sift together dry ingredients and set bowl aside.  In a large bowl cream together shortening, sugar, egg and molasses.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture.  Once everything is well mixed, add the sour cream and mix until light and fluffy.  (I’ve found it easiest to keep my hands wet during the next step so the dough doesn’t stick to them.)  Scoop enough dough out of the bowl to create a 1 ½” round ball.  Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet (seriously folks, treat yourself to parchment paper – you will thank me) about 2 inches apart.  Using a teaspoon, make a small depression in the center of each ball flattening the cookies.  Sprinkle them with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes or until firm.  Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Cranberry-Orange Cookies, 24 cookies

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp grated orange peel
3 tbsp orange juice
1 ½ cups flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375˚.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.  Add the egg, orange peel and concentrate, beating until light.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture, mixing until the dough is smooth.  Stir in the dried cranberries and nuts.  Drop by teaspoonfuls into mounds on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 12 minutes or until light brown.  Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

3 comments on “12 Days of Christmas: Cookies

  1. Susan Weisberger
    December 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Brilliant, simply brilliant. (said in a silly English accent!)


  2. Lisa Knoebel
    December 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    I can’t wait to try these. Cranberry and orange are a simply wonderful combination.

  3. Auntie Roxann
    December 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    I made the cranberry orange cookies I felt like I got to have cookies with you I agree with your Mom with my pinkie in the air YUMMY

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