My sister and I get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. Usually we break out the wine and the Christmas music, but this year was a little more chaotic as our parents and brother, my husband and her two kids all took a turn in the kitchen as we listened to the NDSU Bison playoff game on the radio.
But just because it was crazy, doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. I taught my niece Isabella how to crack eggs by putting my hand over hers as she did it and she nearly launched the eggs and the two of us across the kitchen island every single time. I laughed until I cried. Three-year-olds are strong!
We never have much of a plan when we bake, but we do have a few loose rules.
- We don’t usually bother with frosting or anything too traditional.
- We always make a favorite cookie. This year it was the Chocolate Drop Cookies again — the recipe is shown below.
- Then we try something neither of us has ever made.
- And since we give away most of what we make, the cookies have to pack and travel well.
The contrasting colors of these cookies look pretty cool in a box, don’t you think?
CHOCOLATE DROP COOKIES
We found this recipe on the back of the Bakers chocolate box a few years ago and we’ve been making them ever since. They’re fudge-y and soft — like little brownie bites — and they’re rich enough that they don’t need the frosting. I challenge you to eat fewer than three in one sitting. They’re just that addictive.
Prep: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Makes: 5 dozen
4 squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
Microwave the unsweetened chocolate and butter on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
Add sugar: mix well.
Blend in eggs and vanilla.
Add flour: mix well.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart, on greased baking sheets.
Bake for 8 minutes or until the cookies are just set. They will look a little gooey and underdone.
Do not overbake, as this will ruin their brownie-like texture.
Cool on baking sheet for a minute until set. Remove and cool completely on wire racks.
Helpful Hint: Invest in a 1-inch cookie scoop. It will save your hands and your sanity.
MEXICAN WEDDING CAKES
We both liked eating these buttery little cookies (which go by dozens of other names, including Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Italian Butter Nuts and Viennese Sugar Balls) but we’d never tried them. They’re a nice change of pace when you don’t want anything too sweet, and they’re delicious with coffee.
This recipe is adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Makes: 4 dozen
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (We used cashews instead of the usual walnuts or pecans.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 cups powdered sugar to coat
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix butter, sugar and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a large bowl until creamy.
Add flour, nuts and salt.
Make dough into 1-inch balls and place them one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes until set but not browned.
Remove from cookie sheet and cool.
Coat once with powdered sugar while still hot — about 1 minute after they’re out of the oven.
This coat of powdered sugar will nearly liquify, but don’t worry — it’s normal.
Coat with powdered sugar again when cool.
Helpful Hint: You can chill this batter, but let the butter warm up again before you roll them into balls, or you’ll be stuck with teeny, tiny crumbs exploding all over you. (I learned this the hard way.)
What are your favorite holiday cookies?