December 16, 2008

Mom's Christmas Cookies

I started feeling better yesterday, so my mom and I decided to do our annual Christmas Cookie Bonanza. We ended up making 6 different kinds of cookies all on Monday afternoon...which was a personal cookie making record for me. These are my favorite cookie varieties that we do every year. Quite a few of them are drenched in powdered sugar...I think that Christmas is really the only time that you can consume mass amounts of sweets drenched in powdered sugar without feeling much guilt. It is the most wonderful time of the year!

Mom’s Christmas Cookies

Nut Cups

1 small (4 ounce) package of cream cheese
1 cup of AP flour
¼ cup of margarine (not butter)

1 cup of ground nuts (pecans)
1 egg beaten
¾ cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, wrap in foil, then chill overnight or freeze. Make into 24 balls and line small muffin tins with dough.

Distribute filling to 24 lined cups until all is used. Bake 20 minutes @ 350 degrees. Reduce oven to 250 degrees and cook an additional 10 minutes (total cook time will be ½ hour). Cool and sprinkle tops with powdered sugar.

Fudge Scotch Squares

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Mix well and press into well greased 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 45 minutes, then cut into 1 ½ inch squares.

Aunt Marilyn’s Crescents

1 cup of butter or margarine
¾ cup of powdered sugar
2 ½ cups of AP flour
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup ground nuts (pecans or almonds)

Knead to smooth dough and shape about 1 teaspoon of dough at a time into small crescent shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 350 degree oven until slightly brown; about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool 1 minute. While still warm roll cookies in powdered sugar.

Lemon Squares

1 cup of melted butter
2 cups plus 4 Tablespoons of AP flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 eggs
2 cups white granulated sugar

Combine melted butter with 2 cups flour and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Pat into a buttered 9 x 13 pan and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

While crust is baking, beat 4 eggs well, then add 2 cups granulated sugar, baking powder, remaining 4 Tablespoons of flour, and lemon juice. Mix well and pour over baked crust. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar lightly.

Toffee Squares

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 7/8 cups AP flour
10 oz. milk chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup chopped pecans or almonds

In mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light-colored and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla; gradually beat in flour until smooth and blended. (Dough will be thick.) Spread evenly on ungreased 16 x 14 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and puffy. Remove from oven. Pour melted chocolate over crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Cool; Cut into squares. Yield 40 squares.

Cherry-Pistachio Italian Wedding Cookies

1 1/2 cups cake flour (about 6 ounces)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 teaspoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup finely chopped salted dry-roasted pistachios
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor; pulse to combine. With food processor on, add butter through food chute a few pieces at a time; process 1 minute or until mixture is the texture of sand.
3. Combine 3 teaspoons ice water and vanilla in a small bowl. With food processor on, slowly add ice water mixture through food chute; process 1 minute or until very well combined. (Mixture will remain crumbly.) Add cherries and pistachios; pulse 10 times or just until combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl. (Mixture will be crumbly.) Gently press mixture into a level tablespoon; pack lightly with the heel of your hand. Turn out onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining dough to form 32 cookies.
4. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or just until bottoms are golden. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes on baking sheet.
5. Place remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add cooled cookies; toss gently to coat with powdered sugar. Transfer cookies to wax paper to cool completely.

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