Tin Time

The cookies and fudge have been carefully — and more or less equally — distributed to their respective tins, in the last step in the holiday baking process. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I baked just the right amount to fill up our tins, without a lot of tempting cookies left over or an egregious shortfall.

This year we’ll be sending out 24 tins to friends, family, and colleagues– the most ever. And I can fairly say that, after the last few days, I will be perfectly content not to see a cookie for a while.

Baking Day — 2019

We’ve been baking all day and making good progress on this year’s batch of holiday cookies. So far we’ve baked the cranberry hootycreeks, the peanut butter and almond cookies, the Dutch spice cookies, the sugar cookie cutouts, and the lemon ricotta cookies. I’m having some fun experimenting with some new toppings– like maraschino cherries — and have managed to resist spoon-licking temptation (for the most part, anyway).

Tomorrow we’ll tackle this year’s new cookies, make some fudge and bar cookies, and try to show some decoration flair with icing the sugar cookies.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2019 (II)

The internet is a wonderful thing — at least, some of the time — but sometimes sifting through the mass of available information seems overwhelming.  Run a search for Christmas cookie recipes and you will get an avalanche of hits that leaves you no method, aside from random chance, to pick which website to review.  They all promise to offer favorite recipes that people will love.

That’s where the use of finer search terms become necessary.  I realized this when I happened across a website post that featured the best soft Christmas cookie recipes — just in case you’re baking for the toothless among us who must gum their holiday delicacies.  So this year I did a search for Christmas cookie recipes from the 1960s and ran across a treasure trove of options, including this gem, which is described on yellowed print as “Easy-to-make cookies for those who like a not-too-sweet dessert” that are “good keepers and shippers.”  I’m pretty sure Mom made these, by the way.

Swirl cookies

2017-11-18-holiday-pinwheel-cookies-coloradjusted-7Ingredients:  1 cup soft butter; 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 2 1/2 cups unsifted flour; 1/4 teaspoon salt; red and yellow food coloring

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light.  Stir in flour and salt until well blended, then divide dough in half.

Color one half with 1/4 teaspoon of red food coloring and 7 drops of yellow food coloring.  Leave other half uncolored.  Chill the dough.

Press together one level teaspoon of each color.  Roll into a pencil shape, then form in a coil on the baking sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2019

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2019

Has anyone else stopped to notice that it is December 9, 2019?  That means we’re only three weeks or so away from a new decade and a new year that will remind those of us old enough to remember it of a TV news show featuring Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters.  It also means we’re about to commence our twelfth year (yikes!) of publishing Christmas cookie recipes on the Webner House blog.

And yet — there are still unknown cookie recipes lurking out there, just waiting to be tried and enjoyed for the holidays.  Thus, our voyage of baking discovery continues.  If you’re interested in the recipes from the prior years, you can find all of them by clicking on and following the links for each year at the bottom of this post, which in turn have links to all of the recipes provided in that particular year.

The first recipe for 2019 comes by way of Aunt Corinne and the Food and Wine website and blogger Luisa Weiss.  The first sentence of the description of the cookies reads:  “These German raspberry-hazelnut macaroons require just five ingredients and are extremely no-fuss.”  That’s a pretty compelling recommendation for cookies that will be prepared by a novice baker in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus.

Raspberry-Hazelnut Macaroons

Version 2Ingredients:  1 1/2 cups of whole hazelnuts; 2 large egg whites; 1/4 kosher salt; 3/4 cup sugar; 1/2 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spread hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 10 minutes, until the skins split and the nuts are fragrant. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and rub together to release the skins, then let the hazelnuts cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until finely chopped. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium speed for about two minutes, until foamy.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating for five to seven minutes until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted, then fold in the chopped hazelnuts.

Use a soup spoon to scoop 1 1/2-inch rounds of the batter onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies for 11 to 13 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Remove the cookies from the oven and, while they’re still hot, carefully make an indentation in the center of each with the back of a teaspoon.

In a small saucepan, boil the raspberry jam for 30 seconds, until slightly thickened. Carefully spoon about 1 teaspoon of the hot jam into the center of each cookie. Let the jam set and the cookies cool completely before serving.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2018

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2017

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2016

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2015

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2014

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2013

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2012

Calling for Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2010

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2009

Tin Time

Last night I finished baking and icing the sugar cookies, and this morning I got up extra early to put all of the cookies into their holiday tins for delivery. Then — and this is especially important, because baking and frosting cookies is of necessity a highly messy, creative process (for me at least) — I cleaned the kitchen and returned it to its pristine, pre-cookie frenzy state.

There’s a certain glow of satisfaction in finishing up, and I will enjoy a cup of coffee and some orange juice while I fill out my address labels. I’m ready for Christmas!

Baking Day — 2018

We’ve gotten an early start on Baking Day this year. The necessary ingredients were purchased yesterday, I’ve got my baking/chilling/mixing plan laid out, the Dutch spice cookie mix is ready to go into the refrigerator to chill, and the Christmas music playlist is in full swing on the iPod. (I ‘m listening to Burl Ives’ bouncy Holly Jolly Christmas as I write this.)

I always really enjoy this day. Baking cookies is just fun.

Going Through The Stack

Each year, a key step in the cookie-baking process is going through my stack of tried and true recipes — some of which were singed around the edges by s close encounter with a stovetop in 2014 — and deciding what to make this year. After the recipes are selected, it’s time to prepare the shopping list and hit the neighborhood grocery store before the morning rush really starts.

Every year, I try the new recipes I’ve posted on the blog, so that decision is easy enough. And for me, at least, it wouldn’t really be Christmas without iced sugar cutout cookies and Dutch spice cookies, so they’re in, too. And people seem to really like the cranberry hootycreeks, and they’re fun to make, so they’re in, too.

But what else should be pulled out of the stack? It’s decision time!

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2018 (III)

When I’m trying to figure out what to bake each Christmas, whether something looks like it would be tasty is always the first and most important criterion.  Once that threshold is passed, however, I’m always looking for something with color and texture that will add a little dash to the cookie tins, and I also like to try recipes that are different from what I already prepare.

This recipe, which I found on the www.dinneratthezoo.com website, meets all of those requirements.  The cookies are made with cornflakes, which sounds intriguing, they look great, and they are “no bake” cookies that supposedly can be made in 10 minutes — which is something I’ve not tried before.

Christmas Wreath Cookies

christmas-wreath-cookies-683x1024Ingredients:  1 stick of butter (1/2 cup); 30 large marshmallows; 1 and 1/4 teaspoon liquid green food coloring; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; 5 cups cornflakes; 1/2 cup red candy coated chocolates such as mini M&M’s; cooking spray

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Place the marshmallows and butter in a large bowl, and microwave them in 30 second increments until melted.  Add the green food coloring and vanilla and stir until the marshmallow mixture is smooth.  Add the cornflakes to the bowl and gently stir to coat the cereal evenly with the marshmallow mixture.
Pack the mixture into a greased 1/4 cup measuring cup, then turn the mixture out onto the sheet pan. Use your fingers to make a hole in the middle to form a wreath shape and decorate with red candies. (The recommendation from the website is that it’s easiest to form the wreath holes if your fingers are damp or coated in cooking spray.)  Cool completely until firm and serve.

 

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2018

The calendar — and, unfortunately, the too-early winter weather — confirm that it is indeed December.  In fact, it’s December 5.  December 5!!  That means it’s high time to start collecting the Christmas cookie recipes that I’ll be baking this year.

If you like Christmas cookie recipes, the internet is truly a mixed blessing.  It’s great in that there are countless cookie recipes that can be called up by running a simple Google search for “Christmas cookie recipes,” which will give you awesome variety and concoctions that you’ve never even thought were possible.  It’s bad, however, because at many websites Christmas cookie recipes are classic clickbait, and you need to click through multiple pages to finally get to the recipes.  If you hate the constant clicking, as I do, because you believe the website is treating you like a pawn in an advertising game whose time is of no value, I recommend the iambaker.net website, which allows you to get directly to the recipes like the one below.

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies

peppermint-meltaways-blog-300x300

Ingredients:  For the cookies — 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature; 3/4 cup cornstarch; 3/4 cup confectioners sugar; 1 tsp. McCormick pure peppermint extract; 1 cup all-purpose flour 
For the glaze — 2 cups confectioners sugar divided; 6 -8 teaspoons whole milk divided; 1/4 -1 teaspoon of McCormick pure peppermint extract; McCormick green food color optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix the butter and cornstarch until well combined and lighter in color, then turn the mixer off and add in confectioners sugar.  With the mixer on low, add the peppermint extract and mix until ingredients are fully incorporated.  Turn mixer off again and add flour, then with the mixer on low to medium-low, mix until the dough comes together and pulls away from sides of the bowl.

Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop or a tablespoon measuring spoon, remove about a tablespoon of dough. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Once the cookie sheet is full, gently roll each scoop of dough between your hands until it is a smooth ball.  Bake 9 minutes at 350 degrees.  Right out of the oven take a glass with a flat bottom (that is smaller than the cookie) and gently press into the cookie.  Allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Make sure cookies are completely cool before adding glaze.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2017

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2016

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2015

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2014

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2013

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2012

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2010

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2009

Guest Batch

We have family coming in for the holidays, so I’m whipping up some cookies for people to nibble while we sit around and catch up on what everyone has been up to during 2017. I’m therefore making my favorite cookie — Dutch spice cookies. I like the brown sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg/clove flavor, which says Christmas to me, but they’re also fun to decorate. You can put anything from M&Ms to decorators’ sugar to nuts on these cookies, and they all seem to go perfectly.

Done, And Done

Last night I iced and decorated the sugar cookies, and then I got up early this morning to finish putting the cookies into festive tins and writing notes for the recipients of this year’s holiday baking — who I hope will enjoy the new recipes and the new twists on old favorites.

And, because no job is truly completed until the clean-up work is done, this morning I also stashed the baking implements and remaining supplies and wiped down the countertops, so there’s nary a sign of a marathon baking effort. Now, I can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee . . . and, admittedly, a warm feeling of accomplishment, too.

Baking Day, 2017

Every successful holiday baking day starts with a carefully prepared shopping list. Preparing the list is, and should be, an involved process. You need to sift through your recipes, decide which ones you’ll be making this year, and take inventory of what you’ve got in the cupboard already — and whether you’ve got it in sufficient quantity. If you’ve made a good list, you won’t be caught short on a particular recipe and have to make an annoying one-ingredient dash to the store midstream.

The list is the first step on the journey.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2017 (II)

Every year, the Columbus Dispatch publishes a holiday cookie section with some new recipes.  Knowing that I would be doing my holiday baking, Mom would send me the Dispatch cookie section to give me some new ideas, and to say thanks I would always make sure that a big plate of cookies went her way at the end of the process.  Mom always enjoyed a good Christmas cookie!

So, as a tribute to Mom, I visited the Dispatch cookie guide webpage for 2017 and tried to pick out a recipe that I thought Mom might like.  She had a taste for the simple sugar cookies, and this rosemary cookie recipe (from Margaret M. Titerington of Ostrander) looked intriguing — the sort of straightforward cookie that Mom might have liked and that might have been baked back in old England during the holidays and consumed with a cup of tea with lots of milk.

Rosemary Cookies

dsc_0046_resize_colorcorrectIngredients: 1 cup butter; 1 cup sugar; 2 eggs; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 4 cups flour; 1 cup oil (I use extra light olive oil); 1 cup powdered sugar; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 1 teaspoon cream of tartar; at least 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients, except rosemary, in mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. You might need to add a little more flour if dough appears sticky — add 1 tablespoon at a time. Add rosemary and gently mix into batter. Chill the dough thoroughly until very firm.

Roll dough in small balls and then in sugar and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake, watching carefully until light golden — about 5 to 10 minutes. Baking time depends on how large you form the cookies.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2017 (I)