Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Cookies

In a good year, I usually make about 10 different kinds of Christmas cookies.

I didn't bake much this year - there wasn't time, it seemed, but mostly the motivation wasn't quite there. I made banket, and I made some sugar cookie cut-outs with the little Baker, and today we whipped up a batch of the classic Peanut Blossoms.

Here are a few of the recipes I had WANTED to make, but didn't get to this year:

Cranberry Walnut Pinwheels 
Wisconsin Electric Cookie Book (2002)

Dough1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
In a small bowl, combine cranberries, walnuts and marmalade.

In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking power and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; continue to beat until well mixed. Gradually add the reserved flour mixture, beating until the dry ingredients are moistened. Shape into a ball, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until easy to handle. Make Filling.

On a lightly floured surface, roll chilled dough into a 15 x 9-inch rectangle. Spread filling to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up tightly, beginning with the long side. Cut roll in half; wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill several hours or overnight.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice cookies 1/2-inch thick; place on parchment lined or lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 4 to 5 dozen. Great recipe for the holidays.

Cherry Almond Surprises 
Wisconsin Electric Cookie Book (1952)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 pound candied cherries
Powdered sugar to coat

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift flour, powdered sugar and salt together. In a separate bowl, cream butter. Add evaporated milk to butter a little at a time; mix until smooth. Add almond extract, vanilla, sifted dry ingredients and nuts. Blend well. Flatten a level teaspoonful of dough in palm of hand. Place cherry in center. Bring dough around cherry to form a ball. Roll between palms until smooth. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees about 10 to 12 minutes. Roll cookies in powdered sugar while hot. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

Peppermint Bark
1 pound (16 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate
½ teaspoon (or more to taste) peppermint extract
1 pound (16 ounces) chopped white chocolate
¾ cup chopped candy canes

Line an 11 x 17-inch baking sheet with foil and set aside.  Melt bittersweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler over lightly boiling water, stirring constantly. Stir in ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract (or more to taste). Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared sheet, using an off-set spatula. Chill until set, about 1 hour. Melt white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over lightly boiling water, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract, (or more to taste) then add candy canes and stir to combine.  Spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan with an off-set spatula -wait until it's hard enough, or you'll get a "muddy" white chocolate layer.  Chill until set, about four hours or overnight. Refrigerate until just before serving, then break into pieces and serve or package as gifts. Will keep in fridge for about a month (if it lasts that long!).

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