Every year I bake cookies. Growing up I remember fondly spending time with my family in the kitchen baking holiday cookies. It’s a tradition I’ve kept alive and one I really enjoy. For the past couple years I have baked and given away the sweets to my tenants. There is a bittersweet feeling to doing that this year because I hope this will be the final holiday we will be living in and managing this apartment building.
I thought I would shake things up by trying some new recipes but in the end I stuck with my old standbys. You can’t go wrong with recipes you know in your heart. I’m sharing the recipes here with you since I can’t mail you all care packages. Maybe it will inspire you to bake up a sweet treat to share with those you care about this holiday season.
First up is a beloved family recipe that I can’t imagine Christmas without. My Dad would make these from a recipe handed down by his mother. I remember him up to his wrists in dough as he mixed the ingredients by hand. I use a mixer but the memory of him with gooey, buttery hands makes me smile.
It’s simple really. Just take a pound of unsalted butter (one box) and let it sit out to get soft. When that’s ready, mix it with 1 cup of powdered sugar and 4 cups of flour. The batter should not be over-mixed but combined so that you can roll out small balls. I like to line my baking dish with parchment paper then roll a scoop of dough in my palms to about the size of a half-dollar then use a fork to press down on the top to make lines. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. The tops should not get dark. The bottom of the cookie should get golden brown. These are delicious with a cup of tea. You can thank my Dad when you bite into the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness of it.
Another cookie I remember from holidays growing up is the Peanut Butter Kiss cookie. I think these go by many other names.
The recipe I use goes like this:
Peanut Butter Kisses
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick, soft)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag of Hersey kisses
I tend to mix up all the wet ingredients then slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once combined, use your hands to scoop out spoonfuls and use your hands to roll out balls. Again, about a quarter to a half-dollar size. Once rolled, toss them in a bowl of granulated sugar then place along parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. While they are baking, unwrap the Hersey kisses. Once they are done baking, place a kiss in the center of each one. Be sure to eat one while they are still warm. The kiss will be gooey and the cookie soft with a nice crunch to it thanks to the sugary coating. Mmm!
These are a more recent discovery. I made them a couple of years ago and Kaply did not stop talking about them. The memory of her delight inspired me to make these again. They are pretty easy to make and by the time I got around to making these, I was grateful for the simplicity of the recipe. Baking all day is tiring!
2 sticks of butter softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups of flour
1/4 tsp of salt
2 cups of coconut (I used flaked but any kind will do)
Cream together the butter and powdered sugar then add in the rest of the ingredients slowly. I mix the coconut in by hand. Once combined, scoop out and make into balls (AGAIN WITH THE BALLS!). Roll into quarter-sized balls and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. They should come out golden. They are sort of like a butter cookie had a one night stand with a bag of coconut.
I also always, always, always make fudge. It’s so easy and it yields a lot. I believe this is my Grandmother’s recipe (my Mom’s Mom). I don’t have a photo of it because it just looked like a giant brick of chocolate. Besides, you all know what fudge looks like. I like to double this recipe and make it all at once. I am efficient like that.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 package of chocolate chips (I like the dark kind)
1 square of unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cups of nuts (your choice, I use walnuts but have also put in mini marshmallows and almonds to make rocky road fudge before)
1 tsp of vanilla
I combine all the elements except the vanilla and nuts over low heat in a pot on the stove. Do not keep the heat up or you will have burnt tasting fudge (gross). The hardest part of this recipe is being patient and stirring constantly so that all the chocolate is melted. Especially the square of unsweetened chocolate. No one wants to bite into that. Mix over low heat until everything is melty then add in the vanilla and nuts once off the heat. Spread in a large baking dish and refrigerate until stiff. Let it sit out a few minutes before you endeavor to cut it. It can give you quite the work out if you don’t. I might try lining the dish with parchment to see if I can just pull out the whole hunk of it to cut it with a bigger knife next time.
I also made magic cookie bars which are simple and decadent. Plus, my friend Rae Rae l-o-v-e-s them and I love her so I made them in her honor.
Magic Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cup graham crackers (I buy the ones for pie making, already ground up)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 package of chocolate chips (I like dark chocolate)
1 1/3 cup coconut
1 cup of nuts (I used walnuts, any kind will work)
1/2 package of butterscotch chips (for extra decadence)
Melt the butter and combine it with the graham cracker crumbs to line the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Sprinkle a layer of each ingredient on top then drizzle the can of the condensed milk over it all. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Oooey gooey deliciousness awaits your mouth!
I hope these recipes bring you and yours some smiles this holiday season.