I love love love this time of year! There are so many reason to be happy and spread the cheer. Cookies are one of the top things on my list to do each year. I love to bake and I love sharing fun cookies with my friends and family. This year will be no different. Cookies are coming out of the oven this weekend. I thought I would share a few of the recipes that my family has enjoyed over the years and encourage you to jump into the kitchen yourself. If you are not much of a baker but have always wanted to, baking cookies is a great way to start.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup shortening
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon Hot Water
1 1⁄4 cups flour (all-purpose)
12 ounces chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup nuts (optional, but if you prefer I suggest pecans)
1 egg, well beaten
Instructions: Cream shortening then add granulated sugar, brown sugar and egg. Dissolve baking soda in one tablespoons of HOT water and then add. Add flour, salt, vanilla extract and mix well. Add nuts and chocolate chips and mix again. Drop teaspoonfuls of your cookie dough onto greased cookie sheet. (Note the change from Tablespoon to teaspoon size measure for these cookies, they will spread) Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.
German Chocolate cookies
2 boxes German chocolate cake mix, dry
10 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
½ cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⅓ cup sweetened shredded coconut, for drizzle
1 cup chopped pecans
Instructions: Combine cake mix, eggs and melted butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until well mixed. Batter should be sticky and thick. Roll into one inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. 12 balls to a cookie sheet. (Try using a Tablespoon Measure as a scoop to keep your proportions) Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. DO NOT overcook these cookies. Place on wire rack once they are out of the oven and let them cool completely. (Add frosting to completely cool cookies to avoid melting your frosting and having a drippy mess)
Frosting Instructions: Add evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla to a large pan and place on stovetop over medium heat. Stir to evenly combine and continue stirring until thickened (takes about 12 minutes). Once thickened remove from heat and add coconut and pecans. Beat until thick enough to spread. Spread frosting over the tops of cooled cookies. You can always add an extra touch by melting some chocolate and drizzling over the tops of the cookies. Before packaging, let the cookie set-up so the drizzle can cool and the frosting can stay thick.
Snickerdoodles (My Daughter-in-law’s favorite)
1 Cup (2 sticks) Unsalted butter
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
2 Large eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Cream of tarter
¼ Cup Sugar (separate from the above amount of sugar)
1 tbsp Cinnamon
Instructions: Combine butter with 2 Cup Granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until well creamed together. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix into butter and sugar until egg is well beaten. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Slowly add into batter and beat on medium low speed until well combined and dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, combined cinnamon and a ¼ Cup granulated sugar and stir to combine. Use a Tablespoon to measure your cookies proportionately and scoop cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roll each cookie dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350° F 10-12 minutes. Allow cookie to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Oatmeal Raisin (My husband’s favorite)
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
¼ Cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ Cup Butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon salt
1 ½ Cups of Quick-cooking rolled oats
½ Cup Chopped nuts (Walnuts work great in this recipe, but nuts are optional)
Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and nuts. Use a Tablespoon to measure your cookies proportionately and scoop cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roll each cookie into a ball prior to setting the dough on the Parchment Paper, and set each cookie about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375°F. for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Peanut Butter Thumbprint
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (Stir the flour and then scoop it, so it’s not packed into the measuring cup/spoon.)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Bag of Hershey Kisses
Instructions: Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl. Add the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla. Mix well and scrape the bowl. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture all at once and mix well, but don’t go overboard. You just need the ingredients combined.
CHILL dough for 2 hours in fridge. (This keeps helps keeps the dough in good form rather than melting into a flat cookie) Scoop dough and shape into balls, about 1 rounded Tablespoon each. Place 2-inches apart on silicone lined baking sheets. (Use a Tablespoon as a scoop, this will help with your proportions) Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately place a single Hershey Kiss in the center of each cookie while still warm. Let the cookies sit on the tray for about a minute while the Hershey kisses set, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Here a few tips I’ve either read about recently or learned along the way:
Start your recipe with cold butter. It takes longer to soften in the mixer, but warm butter makes the cookies spread too much.
Refrigerate the dough before baking or you will have flat pancake cookies. 30 minutes is good enough, but an hour would be great.
If you are doing a “great cookie bake”, (baking several different types of cookies for sharing). Try to make all of your cookies the same size. Using a Tablespoon for measuring is a great way to help your portion control.
Use parchment paper rather than a greased cookie sheet. This will help is you are using several different recipes or baking a lot of one type. Unless you clean your greased cookie sheet between each batch, you may end up with severely cooked grease on your pan and a funny taste on the edges of your cookies. You can toss the parchment paper after each batch and ensure a smoother trend across all of your cookies.
Use butter instead of margarine. I promise, it makes a difference. If you choose to use margarine, check the label and be sure it has at least 80% vegetable oil.
Happy Baking, Happy Holidays and as always, Have a happy day!