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.
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!
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
Ingredients: 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.