This is the time each year when we get our large mixing bowl, mixer and cookbooks out in preparation of the “holiday cookie bake.”
If you have children, take time and be patient and let them help you as someday they might want to bake treats for you. Make it a yearly tradition for you and your whole family.
If my mother had not allowed me in her kitchen, I wouldn’t be here writing this column.
This week I am going to forgo my usual story which is always a part of my column and instead fill it with some of my favorite cookies and holiday treats. I hope you will enjoy them.
This first recipe is an alternative to the familiar thumbprint cookies with a touch of peppermint. The nice thing about these is the ease in making them because you begin the recipe with refrigerated cookie dough.
SWIRLED PEPPERMINT THUMBPRINTS
2 – 16 oz. rolls of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 cup flour
10 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
red liquid food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cookie dough with the flour and knead until smooth. Shape dough into 1 1/2” balls and place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball (deep but not all the way through the ball as they will rise and the hole will get smaller).
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are very light brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
In a medium size microwave-safe bowl, combine white chocolate and cream. Microwave uncovered at 100% for 1-2 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring every 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir in peppermint extract. Divide chocolate mixture in half. Add 1-2 drops food coloring to tint one portion. Cover and chill both portions for 1-2 hours or until thickened spreading portion consistency.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon (not heaping) of the white chocolate mixture and about 1 teaspoon of the pink chocolate mixture into the indentation in each cookie. Gently swirl a knife through mixtures to marble. Let cookies stand until chocolate is set.
Makes about 34 cookies.
Here is another super easy recipe for those nut lovers. These are similar to pecan pie bars but much easier due to the use of a cake mix.
GOOEY MIXED NUT BARS
1 package 2 layer-size yellow cake mix (non pudding mix)
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut up
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups mixed nuts (or pecans) coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 x 2” baking pan with foil extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray.
Place cake mix in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the 1/2 cup butter into the cake mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 12-20 minutes or until light brown and slightly firm top the touch. Place on a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, the vanilla nd cinnamon. Stir in nuts. Pour nut mixture over the warm crust spreading evenly.
Bake about 30 minutes more or until bubbly around the edges and golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire cooling rack before trying to cut. Using the foil to lift the uncut board, cut into 2” bars. Makes 32 bars.
NOTE: A larger bar can be cut and served on a plate with vanilla ice cream.
Coconut is one of my favorite baking additive. This recipe is super easy and full of rich coconut flavor.
GIANT COCONUT MACAROONS
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 – 14 oz. package flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two extra large cookie sheets with parchment (do not substitute other sheet liners). In extra large mixing bowl beat egg whites, vanilla, cream of tarter and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand up straight). Don’t under mix. Gently fold in coconut half at a time.
Using a 2” diameter ice cream scoop* drop coconut mixture 1” apart onto prepared pans. Place cookie sheets on separate racks in the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Turn oven off and let cookies dry in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (Do nut rush, cool completely). Best if eaten before 2 days ends as they tend to get sticky.
*NOTE: If you do not have a 2” diameter scoop (#20 size scoop) use a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, Scoop a scant 1/4 cup mixture for each mound. Use a spoon to mound cookie dough.
For smaller cookies, drop mixture by rounded teaspoons on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool as above. Makes 28 large/60 small cookies
For my last recipe, I must have a peanut cookie for those peanut butter lovers and most of all for you Ohio State fans. This again is an easy baking mix recipe.
1 – 19.5 Oz. package of brownie mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 -14 Oz. can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1/2 cup peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 x 2” inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray.
In a large mixing bowl combine, brownie mix, eggs and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed just until combined. Stir in peanuts. Spoon half of the brownie mix into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly.
In a medium bowl whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until smooth. Spoon over brownie mix in the pan, spreading evenly. Flatten spoonfuls of the remaining brownie mixture with your fingers and place on top of the peanut mixture in the pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is set and are lightly brown. (DO NOT overbake). Cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cooled. Use the foil to lift uncut bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars. Makes 32 bars.
Well, Christmas is only 4 days away so this will be the last column I will be writing before this special time of the year.
Although Christmas is the time of giving and wonderful times with your family, let’s not forget the real reason for Christmas Day and that is the birth of the Christ child. Take time out on this special day and say a prayer for the birth of our Lord and Savior.
Merry Christmas to all of my readers!
Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column Welcome to My Kitchen out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at email@example.com.