Monday, January 4, 2010

Cookie Day 2009

This is very overdue. My holiday backlog continues to look for many new posts this week.

For the past 4 years a dear friend and I have come together to make Christmas cookies...for the masses. Cookie Day, or Cookie Hell as we refer to it, should be considered an olympic event, much training and preparation lead up to this day. We make the traditional decorated butter cookies along with 9 others. Yes, a total of 10 (!) different kinds of cookies all in one day, and to make matters worse, we double almost every recipe. Why do we do this? Well, we love cookies, the making, the baking, the gifting, and, of course, the eating. It has changed locations a few times, as we have moved over the years, but for now its at my place, since I have more counter space. We do miss baking at my parents house with their awesome "Speed Bake" oven feature that allows you to evenly bake up to 3 tray of cookies at one time! Someday, when I have a home of my own, I might have to invest in this type of oven even if we use it only one day a year.
We made record time this year. From start to finish, and that includes clean-up, we were done in about 11 hours, and it usually takes well over 12.

Swedish Butter Cookies
a family recipe
I have tried many different sugar/butter cookies, but these are fabulous, even after a couple weeks.
Combine in a large bowl:
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix in a small bowl:
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add contents of small bowl to large bowl. Mix/knead thoroughly. Wrap in wax paper, chill overnight. Roll and cut. Bake 11 minutes at 375 °F on an ungreased cookie sheet. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Store in an airtight container.

1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. milk
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 box* powdered sugar

Beat until peaks stiffen. Frost and decorate as desired.
* "box" is what was listed on the original, very old, recipe. We think it was a 1 pound box.

Chinese New Year Cookies
another family thing, my Mom made them every year growing up

1 bag (11 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag (11 oz.) butterscotch chips
1 can (12 oz.) spanish peanuts
1 can (5 oz.) chow mein noodles
sprinkles (optional)

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in a large pot on the stove over low heat. Once melted, add noodles and peanuts. Stir to coat, and remove from heat. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of mixture onto sheets of wax paper. Top with sprinkiles, if desired, and allow to cool and harden for several hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
from Hershey's

48 Hershey's Kisses
1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. granulated sugar, plus a few tablespoons
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose floour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Heat oven to 375 °F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 c. granulated sugar and brown suger; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in extra sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookies will crack around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Ginger Snaps
source unknown
This year, these were my favorite, and I ate far too many! I love how they are tough and chewy and seem to bite you right back. To achieve the star pattern, gently press an astersik (*) pattern into the balls of dough with a table knife before baking.

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
granulated sugar

1. Cream shortening, brown sugar, molasses, and egg until fluffy.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves; stir into molasses mixture.
3. Form into small balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 375 °F for 12 minutes.
Yield 5 dozen

Cinnamon Cookies
adapted from a recipe by Diana Rattay,

2/3 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnnamon
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
2. Sift flour with baking powder and 1 tsp. cinnamon; add to butter mixture and blend well. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
3. In a wide shallow bowl, combine chopped nuts with 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Form chilled dough into small balls; roll each ball in cinnamon sugar nut mixture and place on a greased cookie sheets 2-3 inches apart.
4. Bake at 350 °F for about 10-12 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen.

Oatmeal Scotchie Bars
from Nestle's Very Best Baking
We usually make the cookie form, but bars were a nice alternative, and saved some baking time.

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 c. (11 oz. pkg.) butterscotch morsels

1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels.
3. Spread dough into a greased 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until light brown. Alternatively, drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
Makes 4 dozen bars or cookies.

Icebox Shortbead - two ways
from Martha Stewart
We have been making the lemon poppy seed variety for years and decided to add the ginger sesame for a different type of Christmas cookie. They were delightful, but if you have never tried to chop crystallized ginger, I will warn you that it is very sticky and may take a few minutes.

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. all-purpose four (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling

Our Mix-Ins and Coatings
for other variations see the original recipe
-Mix in grated zest of 2 lemons; coat with 1/4 c. poppy seeds
-Mix in 1/4 c. finely chopped candied ginger; coat with 1/4 c. sesame seeds

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms. Stir in desired mix-ins.
2. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of floured waxed or parchment paper. With floured hands, gently roll each into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log. Dividing evenly, sprinkle with desired coating, if using, rolling log (to help coating adhere) and pressing gently. Wrap logs tightly in the paper, and refridgerate until firm, 1-2 1/2 hours. (To store longer, wrap log and paper tightly with plastic wrap.)
3. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Unwrap logs; with a serrated knife, slice dough 3/8 inch thick (if dough crumbles, leave at room temperature 5-10 minutes). Arrange slices, about 1 inch apart, on baking sheets.
4. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1-2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen.

Nutella Cookies
from alpineberry
Oh, man I cannot say enough good things about these ones, the name should really say it all. We tried these for the first time last year, and they are the next best thing to slathering Nutella on a fresh bakery croissant, and are at their best warm, right out of the oven.

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar
2/3 c. Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.
3. Cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in Nutella and vanilla extract. Mix in egg.
4. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
5. Drop tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for about 11 minutes until the edges look set. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully remove to cooling racks.
Makes 30 cookies.

The Ultimate Heart Smart Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Kelli Gibbs published in the Detroit Free Press
These were a pretty good spin on the traditional chocolate chip, but they did get pretty hard after only a few days.

1/4 c. margarine
1/4 c. (2 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. miniature chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (we omitted these)

1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, beat together margarine, cream cheese, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt and stir into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 2 dozen.

Here are some tips for cookie mass production that we have learned over the years:
- If you have several recipes that require the dough to be refridgerated make a couple the night before.
- Use parchment paper to line the cookie sheets rather than silicone mats or cooking spray. The later two require some washing in between and can slow you down. Wasteful I know, but it's only once a year and for some of the less greasy cookies, you can flip the paper over and reuse the same sheet.
- Invest in a cookie scoop and a thin, cookie friendly turner.
- Obviously having 2 people to crank it out helps, and so does a KitchenAid, or a few hand mixers with extra beaters.

Other Cookie Day Traditions:
- Eggs for breakfast help to prepare us for the sugar consumption.
- We order fish and chips for dinner and drink iced tea...both are delicious and serve as a vehicle for lemon juice. What else would we do with 4 naked lemons. ;)

1 comment:

Johnny McHairdo said...

Nice. I dig the Smörgåsbord of cookies you got goin' on here. I helped my mom make only a few, and even then we've ended up with far too many cookies to eat.

Here's an idea: we should have another cookie day in the summer. Then everyone else will eat them because there isn't a stinkin' plethora at every persons house!

Also, we should make Buckeyes and invent a cookie named "Wolverines" that are far superior in flavor and texture.