Thursday, October 29, 2020

Holiday Baking-Cookies/Biscuits

It has been such fun going through the archives looking for recipes to share. I'd forgotten about so many of them. I also came across this photo from Dan's third birthday, so I'll share a quick story. 

Like most three year olds that grow up on a working farm, Dan was obsessed with tractors. We'd buy him small tractor toys at the farm store, but it was on a trip to the drugstore in town that he set his eyes on the John Deere branded tractor toy that cost close to $50.00. 

Yeah, we didn't have that kind of money then, but he really, really, really loved that tractor. I think you can guess the rest about how I put aside a bit from the grocery budget, etc. until we had just enough to buy it the night before his birthday. What I didn't plan on was him waking at 4 AM yelling, "I want my birthday right now!" 

Kids toys come tightly packaged these days to survive the shipping from wherever it is they're manufactured, and let me tell you-there's no pressure like the pressure of an excited, and impatient toddler waiting for you to untwist a million wire ties holding the damn toy in place-all before we'd had a cup of tea. Well, we got it, and as you can see in the photo, he was clearly in love, so we felt pretty successful until he wanted his birthday cake at 4 AM. Know what? We let him have it. I choose my battles, and I wasn't going to fight over cake. That started a tradition of having birthday cake for breakfast before leaving for school/work. Yes, there was always cake missing slices by the time the party happened, but we've come to appreciate the oddball tradition. 

These days he isn't interested in tractors, but the toy is safely packed away for the future. Maybe I should wrap it up and give it to him this year for fun. 

Anyway, the first attempt I made at decorated cookies was for his cake, and as you can see, they are laughably bad. Hey, you have to start somewhere. 

Anyway, your baking will almost certainly look better than my early efforts, but if not, I promise no one will remember. They'll remember that you baked. 

 As promised, here's my big list of favourite cookies/biscuits for your holiday non-entertaining. Well you can entertain yourself (I said that in my "Mummy voice"). 

1). Spritz 

These days I don't bother tinting the dough, but looking at this photo from 2008, maybe I should! They sure do look cheerful. That vintage cookie press was one of the best things I ever thrifted. It works better than any modern, "Cookie gun" I've ever used. I've improved my technique a bit since this photo was taken. 

You Will Need:

1 cup soft butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Mix together the butter and sugar until light. Add the egg yolks and vanilla-mix well. By hand, mix in the flour and work until quite soft and pliable. Tint if desired. Force through press according to directions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes (mine took 8) until just set-do not let them brown. Cool on racks. Makes about 6 dozen cookies (I got about 4)

2) Frosty Anise Cookies
No, not a "Frosty anus". That's what you get if you go outside in winter without pants 😀

You Will Need:

3 cups sifted AP flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons anise seed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon anise extract if desired (I omitted this)

3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup hot milk (I used water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets.

Sift together dry ingredients. Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs until well blended. Add the anise seed, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix well. Add all BUT 1 cup of the sifted flour mixture. Beat well. By hand, work in the remaining amount of flour (I could not get it all in-about 1/8 cup remained, but it was fine). Knead about 1 minute until smooth. Divide into 8 parts. Roll each part into a length about 18 inches long. Cut into 5 parts. Roll each slightly and then cut, 1/2 inch intervals about halfway through log. Join ends. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes. Cookies will not brown on top. Cool on rack. When cool, dip in glaze and let dry on a rack over a baking sheet. Decorate as desired. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

3) Kichels (puffy egg cookies)
I like to bake these for Chanukah. 

You Will Need:

3 eggs (I used large)
1/2 cup salad oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons poppy seeds (I omitted these)
Cinnamon sugar for topping (I added this)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 2 baking sheets. Have eggs at room temperature before beginning. Beat the eggs until very light. Add the oil, sugar, flour and salt. Add poppy seeds if using. Beat well until very smooth.

Drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet leaving about 3 inches between (they puff as they bake). Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar and bake 15 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned. Makes about 36 (I got 24).

4) Coconut Kisses (Meringues)

You Will Need:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (caster sugar works best if you have it)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flaked coconut

Beat egg whites until foamy, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. When about half the sugar is added, beat in the vinegar. You need to keep beating until they are very fluffy-a good 10 minutes. Beat in vanilla and fold in coconut.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drop by teaspoons, or pipe through a bag. Top with something festive, or leave plain and drizzle with melted chocolate later. I made mine large, but the recipe says you can get five dozen. I got about 18.

Bake 30-45 minutes until dry. Cool on rack.

5) Graham Crackers/ Wholemeal Biscuits
You Will Need:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mild molasses
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients (about 5 seconds). Add the butter and process until a coarse meal (10-15 seconds).
Add the rest and process until everything comes together into a ball (about a minute at high speed). You may need a few drops of additional water, but go carefully a drop at a time as you do not want the dough too wet-you will be unable to roll it out.
On a plastic cutting board (or a regular one between two pieces of waxed paper-much more difficult in my opinion) roll out half the dough until it is quite thin 1/8 inch thick. If you can't get it that thin, don't despair, it can be further rolled after it has chilled a bit.
If you can't seem to get a perfect rectangle (no one can, really) go ahead and use a sharp knife to trim it into shape and then re-work the dough into the main slab. You may need to do this a couple times, and as you aren't rolling out on flour and toughening the dough, it is OK-though you don't want to handle it to death.
Repeat on a second cutting board.
Place cutting boards (or waxed paper) on cookie sheets and set in the icebox to chill at least two hours. The longer you go, the simpler it will be to cut and lift them off the boards.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a thin knife, or a cookie cutter, cut the dough into desired shapes. Pierce with the tines of a fork. Place on either parchment paper or silicone pads and bake 10 minutes. Turn the sheet and bake an additional 2-5 minutes or until the edges turn lightly browned.
Remove to a rack to cool. The graham crackers will crisp upon cooling.

6) Pinwheels
You Will Need:

1/4 cup soft shortening (I used Crisco)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 oz melted chocolate (unsweetened)

Melt chocolate and set aside to cool.

Cream together the shortening, butter and sugar until light. Add the egg and mix well. Add the vanilla and cream. Mix again. Stir in the dry ingredients that have been sifted together. Mix well. Divide dough in half and work the cooled chocolate into one part. Gather up and wrap in waxed paper separately. Chill very well.

Roll out both flavours to the same size-approximately 9x12. Place the chocolate layer atop the plain layer (using the waxed paper to lift the soft dough). Very gently roll it out until quite thin (you be the judge on how thin is too thin). From the wide side, roll the dough up as best you can (as you can see, mine are never perfectly round) and wrap again in waxed paper. Return to the fridge to chill again until solid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Either grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment or silicone pads. With a very sharp, thin knife, slice the cookies 1/8 inch thick. Leave about an inch between the cookies on the sheet as they spread a bit when baked.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on edges. The cookies won't look baked, but they should be just barely set. They will firm as they cool on racks.

7)Sesame Seed Biscuits
You Will Need:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons solid shortening

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 eggs

1/4 to 1/2 cup (or more) milk

1 cup sesame seeds

Sift together the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening. Add the eggs and enough milk to make a firm but not too dry dough. You need to be able to roll it in a ball, so if it crumbles badly, add more milk taking care not to add too much. The recipe called for 1/4 cup and I ended-up using 1/2 a cup but I also used a new flour-so I'm not positive what was going on.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll into balls the size of a shooter marble (what? You didn't play marbles as kids? Fine, about half the size of a golf ball) and then roll in the sesame seeds. I baked mine on silicone pads, but parchment would be OK too. The recipe didn't specify a greased or ungreased sheet so I'd err on the side of caution and grease if you lack parchment or pads.

Bake 15-20 minutes depending on size until cookies are dry and just becoming golden on top. Cool on racks.

8) Art Deco Cookies

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon double acting baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered cocoa

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt-set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour in two additions and mix well. Remove half of the dough to another bowl and beat in the cocoa and cinnamon. Mix well. Wrap each in a ball with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out each dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with doughnut cutter. Remove centres placing light in dark and dark in light. Cut each round in half and then place together with opposite on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes until edges are just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on pan, the carefully transfer to rack. Makes (about) 2 dozen.

9) Lemon Prune Snowballs
You Will Need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped prunes
Confectioner's sugar

In a bowl (well, duh! Where else would you do it?!) mix the butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest together. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour sifted with the baking powder and salt. Stir in the prunes. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and chill at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On an ungreased baking sheet, make balls the size of a walnut and place about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-15 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Remove to a rack and immediately roll generously in confectioner's sugar. You may wish to repeat this a few times as they cool. Cool on racks. Makes about 3 dozen.

10) Caramel Oatmeal Brownies
You Will Need:

1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup melted butter

Sift flour, soda, oatmeal, sugar, and salt together. Melt butter and mix into mixture.
Press into an ungreased 8x8 pan and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for ten minutes.

Brownie Layer:

2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together flour, soda and salt. In a double boiler over hot water (or in the microwave like I did) melt together the chocolate and butter. Beat in the sugar slowly. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. Spread over oatmeal layer and bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Cool, cut into bars or squares.

11) Starlight Sugar Crisps
A classic for good reason.
You Will Need:

1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (!) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
2 beaten eggs (I used large)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Soften the yeast in the warm water and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter until it is in fine pea-sized lumps. Add the yeast, sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Cover with cling film and chill at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide dough in half. Mix sugar and vanilla extract together in a bowl. On a work surface, spread about half a cup of the vanilla sugar to dust the surface. Pat out half the dough into a rectangle and then roll to a 16x8 rectangle. Fold one end of the dough over the centre. Fold other end over to make three layers. Give the dough a 1/4 turn and repeat two more times, sprinkling with additional sugar as needed. Roll dough out to 16x8 and about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 4x1 inch strips and twist a couple times before placing on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough, or keep in the fridge for use at a later date (The recipe says dough will last four days).

Bake until golden-about 20 minutes, but start checking at 15. Remove to rack to cool.

12) Homemade Twix Bars

For The Shortbread Base:

1 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups AP flour

Cream together the sugar and butter. By hand, squeeze in the flour until well blended. Wrap and chill until firm.

You know how cookbooks always tell you to whack cold cookie dough with a heavy rolling pin until malleable to roll out? I have a really lovely  French rolling pin that is ever-so-heavy. I went ahead and whacked, but I missed the dough and got my ring finger instead. But don't worry, I know how to make a splint and Danny learned some new vocabulary words. Have you ever experienced pain that was so intense you thought you might pass out? It was like that. Hard to believe a rolling pin could do that, but at just the right angle, it was about the most painful thing I'd ever done to myself. Much, much worse than breaking my arm.

Anyway, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into rectangles, or sticks, or whatever shape you prefer (no need to be traditionalists here, as they aren't actually Twix bars). The cookies won't brown on top and they don't spread, so you should be able to get them all on a large baking sheet. Bake about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

For The Caramel:

You Will Need:

2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a heavy pot, (I use an enamel coated cast-iron one to retain heat) combine everything except the vanilla and cook over medium heat until it reaches 248 degrees F. on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally, taking care to scrape the sides (a heat resistant spatula is helpful).

Pour into a well-buttered 8x8x2 pan. Cool. When firm, loosen the sides with a butter knife and place on cutting board. You will have extra, so just cut into pieces and wrap in squares of wax paper.

For the Chocolate:

I used dollar-a-bag store brand semi-sweet chips that were amazingly made from real chocolate, but use whatever you like.

When the caramel has cooled, but is still pliable, dump it out on a cutting board. Cut into small pieces and stretch it over the cookies. Let it sit for a few minutes. If you like your caramel salty, give it a light dusting at this point.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl (I did this in batches) in the microwave at half power. I dipped the cookies in the chocolate and let the excess drain back into the bowl. You could, again do this in a more meticulous manner, if you didn't bash your ever-so-useful right ring finger with a heavy French rolling pin an hour earlier. Do as you see fit.

Let dry on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. When cool, wrap the individual pieces in waxed paper...and try to not devour them all!

13) Gingersnaps
You Will Need:

3/4 cup shortening (I used half butter)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (I used full flavour)
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Granulated sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 2 large baking sheets

Cream together shortening, sugar, molasses and egg. Sift together dry ingredients and mix into butter mixture. Combine well. Form into small balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes about 5 dozen.

14) Paul Bunyan Sugar Cookies
You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup raisins
4 cups AP flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and raisins. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and incorporate well. Wrap in clingfilm and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

I used an empty 2 lb. coffee tin as a cutter, but any bowl would work fine.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 5 inch diameter rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart (about 7 on each sheet) Sprinkle with sugar (or coloured sanding sugar if you're feeling festive, which I was. I'm the most festive person I know. Sometimes I wear a party hat around the house...just because).

The cookbook suggested 10 minutes baking time-mine took 15-so check them frequently. The cookies should be slightly browned. As they are very fragile, leave them on the baking sheets a minute or so before removing them to cooling racks. Of course, you get to eat any broken cookies right away so...well, you know.

Makes about 14 cookies.

15) Fig Bars

You Will Need:

For The Dough:

1/2 cup soft shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons thick cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarb
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening and sugar together until light. Beat in eggs. Stir in cream and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and mix in. Chill dough, tightly wrapped in cling film several hours before using.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

1 1/2 cups cut-up figs (scraped out pulp if using tough skinned variety)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water (I used 1/4 cup each water and orange juice)
2 tablespoons additional orange juice (or lemon)
Cook slowly stirring constantly until thickened-about 5 minutes. Cool. Makes about 1 pint.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two large baking sheets. Roll out 1/2 the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 4 large strips 3 1/2x12 inches. Spread 1/3-1/2 cup filling on each strip lengthwise covering only half the strip except for a 1/4 inch edge. Lift this edge up and stick it to the filling. Quickly flop the uncovered half strip over the filling, folding it under at the edge. Seal the two edges securely. With a sharp knife, cut into bars 2 inches long. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

I did not shape them this way, and I don't see any reason you couldn't make them round with a biscuit cutter and top with another circle that you crimp. You could also do large circles and fold them over into crescents. Use your imagination, but be warned that getting that dough 1/8 inch thick takes some skill (and a stocking net on the rolling pin).

Cool on racks, then store in tins.

16) Springerle
For The Springerle (From Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1966)

4 large eggs
 1 lb (4 cups) icing sugar
20 drops anise oil (I used 1/2 teaspoon extract)
4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
crushed anise seed for coating baking sheet

With a mixer, beat eggs until light. Add sugar slowly, and keep beating on high for 15 minutes or until it looks like soft meringue. Add anise oil. Sift flour and bicarb together. Add to mixture on low speed. Cover bowl tightly with foil, and let stand 15 minutes.

Divide dough in thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into an 8 inch square. It should be just a bit thicker than 1/4 inch. Dust your press or mould with flour and press into dough firmly. With a sharp knife, cut apart and place on a floured surface to stand overnight covered with a tea towel.

Next day:
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (or 2) and toss with 1-2 teaspoons crushed anise seed. This helps keep the biscuits from sticking.

Brush excess flour from biscuits, and with a wet finger, lightly rub the underside of each. Bake 20 minutes, or until a light straw colour. Cool on racks, then store in an airtight container for a few days before serving.

17) Lebkuchen (Nut Free)
You Will Need:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses (or dark treacle)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystalised ginger
2 3/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cut-up candied citron
1/3 cup quick cooking porridge oats (or regular ones pulsed for a few seconds in a coffee grinder)

Raisins to decorate

Glaze as follows at end of recipe

Mix together the honey and molasses in a saucepan. Bring to a boil (watch it, it foams) and remove from heat. Cool thoroughly.

Mix into the molasses/honey the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and rind. Stir in ginger. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture. At the last, stir in the citron and oats. Mix well and roll dough in cling film tightly. Chill overnight. This is important as it is a very soft dough and will be frustrating bordering on impossible if not well chilled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two or three large baking sheets. Flour a work surface generously (trust me, you need plenty of flour for this). Roll out a small amount at a time keeping the remainder chilling. The cookies should be about 1/4 inch thick. Place the Lebkuchen about 2 inches apart on the sheets, place a raisin in the centre, and one in each corner. Press slightly to secure them. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until a finger indentation does not remain when pressed. Upon removing from the oven brush immediately with glaze and carefully remove to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight crock or tin with a slice of apple to mellow the cookies. They should be ready to eat in a week or so (the hard cookies transform into an almost cake-like texture). Be sure to change the apple slice every day so it does not mould.


Boil together 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water until it strands (230 degrees F. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in 1/4 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar. If icing gets sugary as it cools, re-heat slightly and add a bit of water .

Makes about 3 dozen lebkuchen.

18) Meringues

You Will Need:

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops of red food colouring
¾ cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone pads. If you must butter the sheets, do so lightly.

Beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Add the food colouring and continue beating, very slowly adding the caster sugar (really, go very slow). When egg whites are very stiff, stir in the vanilla as gently as possible.

Drop by teaspoonful on baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Baking time will vary depending on size. Begin checking after 25 minutes, but they can take as long as 45 minutes. The cookies should just begin to brown on the bottom, but not on the top. You don't want them bone-dry as they should have a bit of chew.

Cool on racks.

19) Easy Roll Gingerbread (for people)
You Will Need:

1 cup solid shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup full flavour molasses
2 tablespoons white vinegar
5 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream shortening with sugar. Stir in the egg, molasses and vinegar. Mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add. Mix well. Wrap in cling film and chill at least three hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets (or use silicone pads). Roll out cookies about 1/4 inch thick. Decorate as desired with sanding sugar, glitter, etc. Bake roughly ten minutes, but you'll need to keep checking. Cool slightly on pan, then remove to a rack and cool completely before icing.

20) Butter Cookies to Ice and Chocolbrod
I saved the best for last.

For the Chocalbrod:

1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon cold water

Parlsocker (pearl sugar) or chopped almonds

Reserve a tablespoon of the egg.

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg. Add the dry ingredients gradually. Roll into a log and wrap in waxed paper. Chill at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Divide the dough into four parts lengthwise with a sharp knife. Roll each into a long strip and place four inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. With a fork, flatten to 1/4 inch thickness, leaving a grooved design. Do this with the remaining portions. To the reserved egg add 1 tablespoon water and mix well. Brush the cookies lightly and sprinkle generously with the Parlsocker.

Bake 10-12 minutes until just set (they do not need to brown. Remove from oven and let sit on sheet 1 minute, then carefully cut into pieces. Remove carefully to a rack and cool completely. They crisp well upon cooling.

For The Butter Cookies:

1 cup soft butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Beat in egg. Stir in vanilla. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir in, mixing well. Roll into a log shape and wrap in waxed paper. Chill at least four hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll cookies to desired thickness and cut as desired. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes or until slightly brown at the edges. Cool on racks.

For the Decorator's frosting:

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar (you may need more)

Beat the egg whites and lemon juice until they begin to foam. Add the sugar and beat just until mixed. Add more sugar (if needed) until you get a consistency that is thin, but not so thin that it drips off the cookie. Add any food colouring at this point and mix well. Use a small butter knife to spread it quickly (as it hardens fast). If piping it in a pastry bag, use enough sugar to make it paste-like and then really work quickly.

Let cookies dry completely before packing. If you're using any jimmies or other decorations, do so quickly while the frosting is still wet-it dries very, very quickly.

Here's some of the decorated cookies I've made over the years for the people that work a Aksarben Aquarium at Schramm State Park (who have been so great to Danny over the years). I try to do nature themes. If you decide to try something like this, edible food colour markers are your friend! 

Fish of Nebraska
Leaves of Nebraska trees

Birds of Nebraska
The kestrels were a nightmare to decorate, but I finally got it.

Happy baking, everyone. Next time, I'll be back with some cakes. 


bahnwärterin said...

awww - little boy and his tractor!
i´m impressed by all your baking and decorating. those birds! would you like to become my neighbor? ;-)

Polyester Princess said...

I love the story of a three year old Danny wanting his present AND his cake at 4 am :-) The way he's cuddling that tractor, you can tell he really loved it! What a truly scrumptious repertoire of cookies and biscuits. And thanks for the warning not to whack old cookie dough with a heavy rolling pin. Ouch! That could have so happened to me! xxx

Emily said...

Wow, your Nebraska-themed cookies are stupendous works of art! But even your early tractor-and-farm-animal-themed cake looked really good to me. Have you ever thought about being a professional baker or cake decorator?

Beth Waltz said...

Springerle! Something else to be made in November in order to "age" properly for the Christmas holidays! Shall have to look out the springerle boards. I think I put them away with the tree ornaments because that's how they've been used during the past few years. This year, this year perhaps I'll hang the actual cookies on the tree -- with ribbons! Love the smell of anise. :)

Bibi Maizoon said...

Awwww... Love the pic of Danny trying to free his JD tractor!
Starting to whip up my freezer stash of cookie doughs for my non-entertainholiday season. Think I'll try your gingersnap recipe this year.

Goody said...

I would love to be your neighbour!

It feels like a million years ago. I do still remember the pain of that rolling pin.

Thank you. No, running a bakery is more work than I'd ever want to do (and early hours) but I'm always happy to bake cakes if someone asks. I did a 40th Birthday cake for a co-worker once that was wedding cake sized to feed the whole office. It was covered in tinted marzipan to look like grapes on vines. I regret not taking photos, but it was long before digital cameras. I still have the giant bakery-sized pans though!

If you want to eat the cookies you hang on the tree, you can order "treat bags" from the craft store. They're clear cellophane so you can see the cookie, but also keep it fresh. I do gingerbread men that way because cookies always taste better off the tree!

The gingersnaps work so well. If you like them snappy, use butter and bake a bit longer. If you like them soft and puffy, use Crisco and underbake them slightly. It is such a flexible recipe. If you're doing them in your toaster oven, be aware they can spread a bit if the dough is warm.