Friday, December 16, 2016

Cookies, mainly


I spent all of last weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) baking cookies. I do this every year, always on the last weekend before school ends for the holiday break. I start planning my cookie-baking sometime in November, going through recipes that I already have, as well as new-to-me recipes from websites and cookbooks, usually settling on four recipes to make. I stock up on butter for about a month, buying a pound of whichever brand is on sale in a given week when I do my grocery shopping. (I'm not picky about butter brands; for cookies, Kroger's store brand is just as good as Land O'Lakes or Challenge butter, in my humble opinion). Most of the cookies are donated to the school, for a fundraiser. We have an annual art show during that last week of school, with cookies for sale all evening. You can buy a nice mixture of cookies, packaged in a plastic takeout box, for a few dollars, all of which goes back into the school. I love to bake cookies, so I'm happy to make enough for a big donation, plus few to hold back for home too.

This year's cookie assortment came out particularly well, I think. I tried to avoid some of the recipes I've had trouble with in past years, such as my biscotti that always spread too much during the first "loaf" phase of baking. I didn't bother with anything that required the addition of almond paste or lots of food coloring; I find both kind of hard to incorporate nicely. This year, I wanted simple, easy recipes that looked nice too. These are the cookies I made, arranged clockwise in the above photo (click the cookie's name to see the recipe):

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumprints
Mexican Wedding Cakes
Citrus Slice and Bake Cookies 
Mint Chocolate Delights 

I think the shortbread cookies are my favorite. I love almond flavoring in a cookie and the icing is a nice touch. My icing was a little too runny to make pretty designs on the cookies but the flavor was there. I was in the mood for Mexican wedding cakes this year, having gone a good decade without making any. I used finely chopped pecans in them, but most kinds of nuts work well, especially walnuts and almonds.

The citrus cookies were so easy to make; I think the best part was dyeing sugar yellow and orange for decorating the dough logs before slicing them up. I don't think I realized you could make your own colored sugar so easily. I'd tried it once and couldn't make all the dye blend into the sugar. It turns out you need to stir a long time and chop up the dye clumps with the spoon and eventually, you'll get really pretty colored sugar. I'm looking forward to trying it again, actually!

The mint chocolate cookies are one of my old standbys; I make them every year. The recipe makes a LOT of cookies and they're really festive for this time of year. I buy a bag of the mint-mixture chocolate chips as soon as I see them for sale around Thanksgiving, just for these cookies. All in all, a good selection of recipes and plenty of delicious cookies - twenty dozen before donation!


Have a cookie or two with me? I'll make you some tea, too. I don't know about you, but this week wiped me out. Everything happened all at once. Fun, but exhausting. Today is our first official day of the holiday break, although yesterday afternoon saw me pretty much sacked out in a recliner for a couple of hours, before dragging myself to the kitchen to make couscous and heat some sausages. Just before bedtime, I threw away my checklist for the week. I slept for ten hours last night, waking disoriented at 8:00 this morning, the latest I've slept in months. I guess I needed it. This morning, we did battle at Costco for ham and vodka. It's gray and very windy outside. I'm thinking about settling in with my yarn basket and a festive movie this afternoon. Let Christmas commence.

23 comments:

  1. Oh yes, the last week is a killer isn't it. The cookies look delish, especially the citrus ones, one of my favourite flavours. I've written a couple of recipes down today, one for gingerbread. I shall give that a go next week. Lovely that you had such a good sleep. I don't sleep very well, but if I ever happen to sleep on for a bit it's blissful. I hope you and yours have a lovely weekend. CJ xx

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  2. those cookies look lovely! yesterday I finished my St Nicholas cookie baking (we are on the julian calendar like the Russians with Christmas Jan 7, so St Nicholas day is the 19th, this Monday) yesterday! Did cranberry chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate brownie bookies! today I am doing Christmas baking - the St Nicholas cookies are vegan (but still good!) but Christmas cookies are full butter! so did Cranberry chocolate cookies again, hope to do a new recipe - a snowball orange cookie - and hoping to do a chocolate cream cheese cookie as well! and some plain old butter cookies for the few at church who don't like/eat chocolate! :) your cookies look great! It's really fun to bake tons of them! I get it! I did a double batch of everything, 6 cups of flour for the cranberry cookies! my mixer can just do it! :) Makes 5 dozen! I guess I have done at least 10 dozen so far! I made some mini-loaf cakes a while back which will be gifts as well.... :) Sounds like you really needed the rest! Have a WONDERFUL Christmas!!!

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  3. Bravo on the cookie baking! I want to make the Mexican Wedding Cakes.. I need to do that. But your chocolate mint ones look right up my alley! It sounds like you're pacing yourself and keeping calm and collected. Me too. I am happy that the sun has come out here.. hopefully the roads will improve. Enjoy your cozy afternoon. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉
    *M*E*R*R*Y* *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉

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  4. 20 dozen cookies! Wow, Jennifer, that is totally amazing! Well done you! I hope the next week doesn't wipe you out as much as your past week has. :o)

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  5. I've been making cookies today to prepare for a party tomorrow. I make the thumbprint cookies too - almost the same recipe. They're my favorite as well. Your plate of cookies looks so pretty!

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  7. I just watched the weather on the 10:00 news and it's already -7F with predictions of -12F by morning...before the wind chill is factored in, so a cup of hot tea and a cookie with you sounds very, very nice right now. The mint chocolate and Mexican wedding cake cookies sound like they would be my favorites, but they all look absolutely delicious. How wonderful that you work so hard and then donate most of them. Now you can take a deep breath and enjoy Christmas with your sweet family.
    Blessings always Jennifer,
    Betsy

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  8. Twenty dozen!! Your are amazing Jennifer, I would never be able to produce that in such a short time. Your cookies all look so professional, very pretty and tempting, and I'm sure they taste even better. I have also been tired this week, but we do love to do all these special things at Christmas time, don't we. My mother used to keep saying 'Christmas comes but once a year' :)

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  9. Wow, that was a mammoth bake, they all look delicious and so generous to donate to school. They all look delicious, I wish I could taste test them all. Enjoy your afternoon, hopefully with your feet up. Take care.

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  10. Wow, that's a lot of cookies, I bet the school were thrilled with your donation. They all look delicious. Enjoy a bit of relaxation now, I think you've earned it.

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  11. Beautiful cookies, Jennifer! Wow! Battling the crowds at Costco is always brave!

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  12. Well done! Thanks for all your hard work, and for sharing your research results with us :) I read each recipe and will share them with my daughters. I think your young bears would have enjoyed sledding in our yard and making a snowgirl with my grands this week. Pretty snowflakes are drifting down now but are not supposed to last for long. I hope your holiday is warm and cosy and fun! xx

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  13. oooh lovely, a cup of tea and a cookie would be perfect just about now x

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  14. Your cookies look delicious! Congratulations on making it to the holidays. I hope you have a restful, joy-filled family time in the next few days. Cecily x

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  15. Woah! Twenty dozen cookies? I am in awe of your dedication Jennifer :) They do look delicious. Here we have made some salted caramels and peppermint bark so far, but definitely some cookies are on the to-do list. You certainly deserve a cookie or five for your hard work... not to mention a well-earned rest. x

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  16. You sure did a lot of cookie baking! Snowballs, or Mexican Wedding Cookies are one of my faves. As an avid baker, cook and serious foodie, I can tell you that there is a difference between generic butter and name-brand butter. Generic butter has a higher water content than name-brand butters. However, if you don't notice a difference when baking cookies with generic butter, then it's all good. I've used generic butter before for cookie baking, too. Have you ever tried Kerrygold Irish butter? It's expensive, so I don't use it for baking, but I do use it for little bits of cooking or to put on rolls. The taste is phenomenal.

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  17. they look great..
    we only eat Land o Lakes.. even my kiddos can tell the difference. They really love their butter.

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  18. Your cookies look wonderful -- I think the thumbprints might be my favorite too LOL. I've definitely been wiped out by this month. Haven't done one. thing. for the holidays and it's a mess. Haven't even had time this year to have a list so that I could be depressed over not checking things off of the list haha. I'm hoping to bake a few cookies this week -- VERY scaled back from past years. It's a weird year -- one I hope to NEVER repeat! Have a VERY Merry Christmas this year -- and eat some cookies for me! XO

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  19. Your cookies look delicious, I would love one please with a nice cup of tea! I am planning to make some cookies with my grandchildren this week....they will be all in to the decorating part!
    Merry Christmas Jennifer.
    Helen xox

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  20. Yum, Jen! I just happened to be reading this right before I start making my 5 dozen cookies for some cookie platters my homemakers club is doing for Christmas. I'm making the Mexican wedding cookies too, and I'm making extra so I can have some! I love those. I found a recipe for double-chocolate snowball cookies that are the same except chocolate on the inside. Doesn't that sound good? I'm also making chocolate chip, toffee chip, and the peanut butter cup ones I blogged about a few posts back. Your cookies look great. I've never had much luck for the thumbprint cookies. They sound good with the almond in them. I must try those sometime. Hope you're having a stress-free pre-holiday week! You have a beautiful family to celebrate it with in your children and hubby.

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  21. I will skip the cookies as I am a no sugar girl but would love to have a cup of tea with you, sitting and chatting and catching up.

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  22. I am on my first day of the Christmas break, enjoying a day all to myself. Children brake up for the holidays at 2:30. I have just baked a lot of 'Spitzbuebe', Swiss Christmas cookies. They are so buttery, they melt in the mouth. Sitting down to read your blog is always a joy, I am sharing a cup with you just now. xx

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  23. I loved this post and read all the cookie recipes. I like the look of the citrus ones best I think, and I'd never heard of Mexican wedding cakes. I hope you're enjoying the break - the last week of term was just as crazy here. X

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