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Cookies To Share

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1/2 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted

2/3 cup chocolate malt powder

4 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup confectioners' sugar

  1. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate and malt; beat to combine. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat 2 minutes more. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined. Refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Shape tablespoons of dough into balls. Drop balls into confectioners' sugar, coating well. Place balls 10 apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightly crisp. Let cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen.

cooki03

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2/3 cup light molasses

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp. cider vinegar

Decorations:

1 box (1 lb.) confectioners' sugar

2 Tbs. powdered egg whites

8 Tbs. water

Sky-blue icing color (gel coloring)

Sprinkles, sugars, edible glitter

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and nutmeg. In large bowl, with mixer on medium, beat together butter, shortening, molasses, corn syrup, and vinegar for 2 minutes, until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture until dough forms. Divide dough into thirds. Place each piece of dough between 2 sheets of floured wax paper, and roll to 1/8 inch thickness. Remove 1 sheet of wax paper, and invert first batch of dough onto baking sheet; remove other sheet. Using various sizes of starshaped cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as possible. Reroll scraps to cut out more cookies. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly crisp. Let cool 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  2. To decorate: In large bowl, with mixer on low, beat together confectioners' sugar, egg whites, and water until well combined. Increase mixer speed to high, and continue beating for 5 minutes. Tint icing with a few drops of sky-blue icing color to make pale-blue color. Using tip of your index finger, spread icing over 1/4 of the cookies. While icing is still wet, decorate some iced cookies with sprinkles, sugar, and glitter. Add 3 more drops of icing color to remaining icing, creating a deeper blue; decorate another 1/4 of the cookies. Repeat process, creating 2 darker shades; decorate cookies as above. Makes about 8 dozen.

cooki04

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

10 starlight mints, crushed (heaping 1/4 cup)

Red food coloring

Confectioners' sugar for rolling

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in flour (dough will be very dry). Beat in oats, mints, and 12 drops of red food coloring. Shape heaping teaspoons of dough into balls, place on ungreased baking sheets 1/2 inch apart, and bake 15 to 18 minutes per batch.
  2. Place confectioners' sugar in large bowl. Roll hot cookies in confectioners' sugar, let cool completely, and repeat. Makes 4 dozen.

The no mess way to crush mints:
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cooki06

1 bag (10 oz.) marshmallows

3 Tbs. butter

Green icing color (gel coloring)

6 cups crisped-rice cereal

1 cup sweetened coconut

3 Tbs. red sprinkles

Red licorice laces

  1. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with wax paper. In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt marshmallows and butter until smooth; remove pan from heat. Tint marshmallow mixture green with icing color. Add cereal and coconut, stirring gently until combined.
  2. Coat your hands with vegetable cooking spray. Shape mixture into 20 balls, and place on prepared baking sheets.
  3. Using greased handle from wooden spoon, press into center of each ball, making a wreath shape. Top wreaths with red sprinkles. Cut licorice into 40 pieces; shape into bows, pressing together to secure. Press bows onto edges of wreaths. Makes 4 dozen.

Turning balls into wreaths is easy when you use this wooden spoon technique:
cooki07
cooki06

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

Red icing color (gel coloring)

1 cup white-chocolate chips

1 Tbs. vegetable shortening

White nonpareil sprinkles

  1. Make cookies at least a day before serving, since they must set overnight. Heat oven to 200°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil; set aside. In large metal bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over pan of gently simmering water, and whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove bowl from pan, and with mixer on high, beat in icing color. Continue beating until very stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Spoon mixture into large, resealable bag, and snip 1/2 inch off corner of bag. Pipe 1 1/2 inch mounds that bend to one side like Santa caps about 10 apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 1 hour, switching sheets halfway through. Turn off oven, and let caps stand overnight.
  3. In small, shallow bowl, combine chips and vegetable shortening. Microwave on medium-low for 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds. Continue microwaving in 15-second intervals until chips are melted. Place sprinkles in small, shallow bowl. Working with 1 cookie at a time, dip tip and base of cap into melted chocolate, gently shaking off excess. Dip chocolate-coated parts of cap in sprinkles. Return to baking sheets, and let stand until dry, about 30 minutes. Makes 8 dozen.

cooki06

1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1 cup vegetable shortening

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbs. hot water

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Mini foil cup liners

2/3 cup strawberry preserves

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, with mixer on medium-high, beat together sugars, peanut butter, and shortening until creamy and well combined, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat 2 minutes more. Dissolve baking soda in the hot water, and add to dough. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour; beat just to combine.
  2. Scoop tablespoons of dough into cup liners, and place on baking sheet. Using your finger, make small indentations in dough in center of each foil cup. Bake cups for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and fill each cup's center with 1/2 tsp. of preserves. Makes 4 1/2 dozen.

cooki08_2

2 cups butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. grated lemon peel

5 cups all-purpose flour

Yellow decorating spray (optional)

  1. In large bowl, with mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in salt and lemon peel. With mixer on low, gradually beat in flour. Roll dough to scant 1/2 inch thickness between 2 sheets of wax paper, transfer to baking sheet, and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Transfer dough to clean surface, remove both pieces of wax paper, and cut circles of dough with 20 cookie cutter. Cut circles in half, place 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet, and prick each slice with fork to create "segment" pattern. Reroll scraps to make more cookies. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden brown at edges. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, transfer to wire rack, and let cool completely. Spray half the cooled cookies with decorating spray, if desired. Makes 8 dozen cookies.

cooki08_2

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups dark-chocolate chips

2 cups white-chocolate chips

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 2 minutes more. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour mixture to combine. Stir in chips and nuts.
  2. Scoop heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets 10 apart. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen.

cooki08_2

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp. grated orange peel

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped dried apricots

1 cup chopped roasted pistachios, unsalted

1 cup white-chocolate chips, melted

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, orange peel, and vanilla; beat 2 minutes more. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in flour mixture. Stir in apricots and pistachios.
  2. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each part into a 12 inch log (about 1 1/2 inches thick). Place logs 30 apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut each log into 16 diagonal slices. Return slices to baking sheet, and bake 20 minutes more. Let cool completely. Dunk ends of biscotti into melted white chocolate, and place on sheets of wax paper. Let dry completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

cooki08_2

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans or almonds

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9 x 13 inch baking pan. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolk and vanilla, and beat until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour and salt until soft dough forms.
  2. Press dough evenly into bottom of pan. Bake 25 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle chocolate pieces on top, and bake 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven; with knife, spread melted chocolate to cover. Top with nuts, gently pressing into chocolate. Let cool completely. Cut into 48 bars.

cooki02

2 cups butter, softened

2 1/4 cups sugar

3 egg yolks

1 large egg

1 Tbs. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup each red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple crystal sugars

  1. In large bowl, with mixer on high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, egg, vanilla, and salt, and beat well to combine. With mixer on low, gradually beat in flour. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces, roll each piece into an 8-inch log, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Working with 1 roll at a time, unwrap dough and roll in 1 color of crystal sugar. Cut logs into 1/4 inch thick slices, and place on ungreased baking sheet 1/2 inch apart. Bake 12 to 16 minutes, until golden. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, transfer to wire rack, and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough, using a different color for each roll. Makes about 12 dozen cookies.

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Organizing a holiday cookie exchange ensures you'll have plenty of treats to eat or give as gifts. It's also a cherished chance to catch up with friends. Follow a few simple guidelines to guarantee a great party.

  1. Send invitations three to four weeks in advance. Invite eight to 12 people.
  2. Ask everyone to bring eight to 12 dozen cookies and to let you know what kinds they're baking so you can make sure there aren't any duplicates. Instruct guests to bring the cookies on a pretty platter, with labels for each kind. Some groups like to exchange recipes too.
  3. Make sure everyone remembers to bring empty containers for toting their selections home.
  4. As the hostess, provide drinks and snacks. Sometimes people bring an extra dozen cookies to create a big platter for tasting, but include savory choices too. Wine or warm cider and cheese and crackers are good choices, and they create a grown-up atmosphere. Don't forget the holiday music.
  5. After snacking and schmoozing, have guests circle the cookie platters and collect their share. Have each person explain why she baked the ones she did or where her recipes came from.