Christmas Baking

I’ve turned into a lunatic. In the last 24 hours, I’ve made 5 different kinds of cookies. I love to bake but having cookies sit around isn’t a good idea because, well, I want to eat them. Not all of them, because that’s too much sweetness and it makes me sick. But still. I really do like cookies.

Some of these are Christmas cookies, at least for my family. I’ve been making the molasses cookies since college. The chocolate meringues have nothing Christmassy about them but it was the only time of year Mom made them. Walnut Crescents became Pecan Balls somewhere through the years. I still can’t make the Swedish Spritz cookies that Mom made so well, but that’s okay.

Here are the recipes for the ones I made today:

Recipe: Mincemeat Cookies

These cookies are moist and cake-like. You might need to call them spiced raisin cookies because lots of people don’t like mincemeat without even knowing what it is!

3 1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. orange peel
1 C. shortening
1 1/2 C. sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 C. prepared mincemeat (from jar)

Sift flour, salt, soda, and spices.
Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and continue beating.
Gradually add flour mixture.
Stir in mincemeat and mix thoroughly.
Drop by teaspoonful about 2″ apart on greased sheet.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Optionally glaze with mixture of powdered sugar and orange or lemon juice.

Recipe: Pecan Balls

These started out as walnut crescents, but now I make them with pecans from the trees in my yard. Walnuts work, too, but pecans are easier for me. And crescents were too hard to make, so balls it is.

1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. shortening
1/3 C. sugar
2 tsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1/2 C. chopped nuts
Confectioner’s sugar

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar. Mix in water and vanilla, then flour and nuts.
Chill 3-4 hours.
Roll into medium size balls. Cookies will not spread so can space close together.
Bake a 325 on ungreased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
Roll in confectioner’s sugar when removed from oven.
Cool on wire rack.
Yield: approx. 4 dozen

Recipe: Molasses Cookies

This recipe dates to my college days and came from my roommate. I think of her every time I make them.

1/2 C. margarine
1 C. white sugar
1/2 C. dark molasses
1 large egg
2 1/2 C. sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream margarine, sugar, and molasses. Add egg and cream.
Sift dry ingredients together and gradually add to molasses mixture.
Chill dough for several hours. Can keep in fridge for several days if needed.

Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts. Roll balls in extra granulated sugar and lightly flatten with the bottom of a glass before baking.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 9 minutes in 375 degree oven. Cool on wire rack.

Recipe: Snow Day Cookies

I first made these cookies while trapped in our building due to a 40-inch snowstorm. While we waited for the plows, the residents turned the lobby into a party spot with food to nibble and lots of visiting – very unusual for us on a regular day. Found this recipe online using things I had in the pantry. Voila – Snow Day Cookies to share.

1 C. butter
1 C. white sugar
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
1 C. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C. oats
2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs and mix until well blended.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt. Gradually add to peanut butter mixture until moistened.
Mix in oats and chocolate chips. Can drop on sheet or use cookie scoop. Lightly flatten with fingers before baking.

Bake on greased cookie sheets in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes (my oven bakes at 10 1/2 min). Transfer carefully to wire rack to cool completely.