Christmas Cookies Recipes & Traditions

Cookies & TraditionsI thought I would share with you some great Christmas Cookies – well, the recipes that create the Christmas Cookies anyway. (sorry impossible for me to actually SHARE the cookies themselves with you) LOL

First, let me explain about the Christmas Cookies. Every year, we host a “Christmas Cookies Party”. And every year, we invite our closest friends (usually that have children) and my kitchen becomes a madhouse for a few hours. It is also required that you actually bring a plate of Christmas cookies to share while we are baking. Why am I telling you this? Because this is probably one of my favorite traditions! And my children just eat it up too (literally I guess) LOL Ok, so Christmas Cookies spark smells and tastes that sometimes are found only at Holiday time at my house. (the good kind of smells people!)

So with everyone gathered at my house and usually crammed into my kitchen (thankfully it’s a decent size), we each have our own ingredients and bowls that we’ve come equipped with. Now, I will admit – the whole process is a little expensive for me, since it’s my oven we use. However, you can bake two pans of cookies (sometimes three) at one time, and often more than a dozen little cookies can fit on one pan (just think smaller cookies and kind of scatter them a little).

Ok, so if you’re really interested in how we run the whole party, just ask me – otherwise I’m diving into the Recipes for the Christmas Cookies now.

Ok, my favorite first:

Peanut Butter Topped Brownies
For the bars
You will need:
6 squares (6oz) of unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)
OR – you can take the easy way out and use a boxed brownie mix to make the process go faster (it’s more expensive in the long run however).
Heat your oven to 350°F. This recipe originally called for a 9″ square baking pan but we have used a 9″x13″ and it just makes a thinner brownie but still equally as moist and delicious. (and you get more) Line your baking pan with tin foil (don’t ask just do it!), be sure to leave two sides of it over lapping the two ends (trust me this comes in later). Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Let cool about 5 minutes. With a whisk or electric mixer, add sugar and vanilla just until blended. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended. Whisk until mixture is velvety. Add flour and whisk until blended, and then stir in optional nuts. Spread entire mixture into pan. Bake 35-45 minutes (if using the 9” square pan or only for about 25-30 minutes for the 9×13” pan). You are looking for the top to crack near the edges and a tester inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs. (I usually begin checking mine at about 20 minutes). Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. (takes awhile).
Next, the toppings:
Peanut Butter Cream:
¾ c. regular peanut butter, smooth or crunchy (do not use reduced fat it won’t work right)
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 t. vanilla extract
Chocolate Glaze:
6oz. Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ stick (1/4 c.) unsalted butter
1 T. corn syrup
For the butter cream – beat all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread evenly over brownies. Freeze 1 hour or cover and refrigerate overnight until VERY firm.
When it’s firm, prepare the chocolate glaze. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring often. Stir in corn syrup until blended. Let cool until no longer hot but still loose and spreadable. (about 8-10 minutes) Spread glaze over buttercream . Refrigerate about 30 minutes. Lift foil by ends onto a cutting board. Cut into bars, dipping knife into hot water and drying it between cuts (this makes nice clean cuts) Then remove bars from foil, place on a serving plate or on individual serving plates to give out as gifts! (Makes approx 32 bars!)

Ok, the next recipe is interesting – it starts with ONE basic cookie dough recipe that makes TWO delicious cookies. (that don’t taste anything alike!) We double, triple and sometimes quadruple the basic dough recipe and make all kinds of different cookies with it!)

Basic Dough Recipe

2 sticks butter (not spread), softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg plus white of 1 large egg
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
¾ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 ¼ c. flour
Beat all ingredients except the flour in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low, gradually adding flour and beat just until blended. Divide the dough into two equal portions (about 1 ½ cups each – unless you doubled the recipe)
Then proceed onto the cookie making.

For Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1 portion of basic cookie dough, at room temperature
½ c. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, walnuts or pecans
¾ c. coarsely chopped chocolate (I tried ¼ c. dark, milk and bittersweet chocolate – you could use white chocolate but we don’t like that here)
Heat oven to 350° F. Have baking sheets ready. Drop heaping Tbs. 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes until light golden around edges. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack for about 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For Chocolate Cherry Swirls
1 portion of basic cookie dough, at room temperature
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ c. dried cherries, finely chopped (I used maraschino cherries that I had washed with water (so no excess juice) wrapped them in a towel to soak up the rest of the water and then allowed them to air dry about 2 hours or so before I was ready to use them – although they weren’t totally “dry” they were VERY good) – dried cranberries can also work!
½ t. almond or vanilla extract
Divide dough in half and place each half in a bowl. Add cocoa to 1 bowl, cherries and extract to the other bowl. Stir each until added ingredients are well blended. Place each half of dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper. With a rolling pin, roll each into a 9×6” rectangle. Remove top sheets of paper. Invert cherry layer on top of chocolate layer. Freeze for 10 minutes until slightly firm. Remove paper from top and roll up tightly from a long side, pressing together any cracks in chocolate dough as you go. Wrap in waxed paper and freeze 1 ½ hours or until VERY firm. Heat oven to 350° F. Cut log in ¼-inch-thick slices. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until bottoms are light golden. Cool on sheet on wire rack for 2 minutes, then remove to cool completely on wire rack.

You can also make Snicker Doodles with this recipe.
You will need:
1 portion of basic cookie dough, room temperature
2. T. sugar
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
White of 1 large egg
2 T. sliced almonds
Heat oven to 350° F. Put sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl. Stir to mix up. In another small bowl, lightly beat egg white with a fork. Shape level Tablespoons of dough into 1 ¼ inch balls. Roll in sugar mixture, then place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten balls slightly with bottom of a glass, brush tops with egg white and decorate each with 3-4 almond slices. Bake 9-11 minutes until edges are golden. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

I will post more later! (that is if there is a response for them!)

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