Tag Archives: Christmas Cookies

Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

Cherry Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

It’s that time of year again and it’s time to make cookies! This year I’m attending a friend’s cookie swap party. And this friend is a professionally trained baker. No pressure or anything!

I came across this cookie recipe in Self magazine’s December issue. The photography drew me in (my cookies in no way look like the magazine photos!) and then I read the recipe and I was sold.  It’s the perfect blend of salty and sweet. And it’s very easy to make—perfect for a cookie swap!

Cherry, Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

Adapted from Self magazine, December 2013

Yields 40 cookies

Ingredients

  •  2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup pistachios, shelled and finely chopped

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Separately, using a standing mixer, combine butter, sugar and olive oil until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly add flour mixture in small batches. Stir in chocolate and cherries.

 

Divide dough in half and roll into two logs, about 2” by 8” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 45 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spread chopped pistachios on a cutting board and roll the chilled cookie dough. If the nuts do not stick to the dough, press the nuts into the dough.  Cut each log into 20 cookies and spread evenly the cookies sheets. If there is any left over chopped nuts, sprinkle them on the cookies. Gently press the cookies so they are flat and round. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool.

If you are making these cookies as gifts, I typed out the name of the cookies and printed them on 65# card stock. If you would like to print them out, you can download my PDF here. Then, using a 1.5″ circle punch, I punched out the tags and used a hole punch at the top. I ran out of ribbon so I used some yarn I had on hand for a rustic touch.

Once you and your friends taste these cookies, you will die and go to heaven. Happy Holidays!

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Christmas Cookies, Part 2: Peanut Butter-Butterscotch

Welcome to Christmas Cookies, Part 2! I decided for the other batch of Christmas cookies, that I would bake a peanut butter recipe. Peanut butter cookies are verrrry popular with my family. And these cookies are simply divine. When my husband sampled one, I swear his eyes rolled into the back of his head! They are very easy to make–especially compared to the sugar cookies with royal icing. It’s also a great recipe to make with your kids. I remember being as young as 8-years old and making them for my Brownie troupe. They were good then and they are amazing now.

This recipe is a tad different in that it also has butterscotch morsels, which give an added richness and decadence to the cookies. Yum!

Peanut Butter-Butterscotch Cookies

Adapted from All You, August 2009

Yields about 2-1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups chunky peanut butter (not “all natural”)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 11-oz. package butterscotch morsels

Directions

In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Separately, using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment set on medium, beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Next, slowly add the sugar and mix until well-blended. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Once thoroughly mixed, add the flour mixture and butterscotch morsels.

Remove batter from bowl and form into a large flat disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Carefully using your hands, roll dough into little balls, about 1-1/2″ in diameter. Place balls about 2″ apart on the cookie sheet. Then, carefully press a fork into the dough and create a criss-cross pattern (see above). Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with any leftover dough.

These cookies are so good, they could have been used in that “Got Milk” ad from the 90’s. Do you remember it? Oh, I loved it! Let me refresh your memory below.

So, pour a big glass of milk, put on some elastic-waisted yoga pants and dig in!

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Christmas Cookies, Part 1: Sugar Lemon

This year, my husband, parents and I are traveling up to Boston to celebrate the holidays with my sister. Soooo excited! We haven’t been all together for the holidays in at least two years. Maybe we’ll have a viewing of White Christmas?

Or playing “Here We Come A-Caroling” multiple times? I sure hope so! By the way, I only just discovered the 1965 Ray Coniff Christmas Special. It’s just so epicly awesome in a campy way. Like, Lawrence Welk awesome. See below…

My husband and I can’t come empty-handed, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to make Christmas cookies and try out royal icing. Last year, when I made the Star Wars gingerbread cookies, I stayed far away from royal icing. But now that I’ve attempted macarons and fondant, I’ve been feeling a little more adventurous.

I’ll be honest–I should have researched a little more before attempting the icing. The icing turned out a little dull instead of shiny. But, they do taste really good! I will definitely try this again.

Sugar Lemon Cookies

adapted from All You, December 2006

Yields 4-5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons, finely grated lemon zest

Directions

In a stand mixer on medium, combine butter and sugar until fluffy. Next, add vanilla, baking soda and salt. After that has been mixed in, add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Switch to a low-speed and add the flour and lemon zest. You may need to scrape the sides a couple of times.

Divide the dough into two flat discs and wrap each with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to two days.

After dough has been chilled, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured cutting board, roll dough to about 1/8″-1/4″ thick. Chill any dough that is not being used. Using various cookie cutters, cut our shapes and transfer cookies to the cookie sheet. See any familiar shapes below? Hee hee!

Once the cookie sheets are filled with cookies, chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bake cookies for about 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies. You may want to rotate the cookie sheets halfway through. When the cookies have turned slightly golden, remove from the oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack.  Continue process until all of the cookies have been baked.

For the royal icing, I relied on a couple of baking bloggers for their expertise–most notably Sugar Belle and Bee in Our Bonnet. They have a wealth of knowledge and lots of experience–definitely check them out.

Royal Icing

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder (like Wilton’s, which you can find at most craft stores)
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of warm water

Directions

Using the whisk attachment on the stand mixer, combine the meringue powder, sugar and cream of tartar. Once combined, add water and vanilla extract (or whatever flavoring you choose). Mix on medium for about 5-6 minutes, until the icing has the consistency of pudding. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula if any sugar is sticking. Then, switch the setting to high and mix for 3-4 more minutes. At this point you should start to see stiff peaks forming. When you turn the mixer off, the icing should be so stiff, that it doesn’t come off the whisk (see below).

Next, plan out which cookies should be be iced which color. For my cookies, I planned on using green, blue, red and white icing. I’ll defer to Sweet Sugar Belle for her great tutorial on how to color the royal icing. Like her, I also used a Pyrex measuring cup to color my icing.

After you have dyed your icing the desired color and removed any bubbles, fill a pastry bag with the icing and use a #2-#4 round tip. Carefully outline each of your cookies. If you do not want the outline to stand out, directly proceed to the next step. Otherwise, wait until the outlines have dried before filling.

Add water to the dyed icing, a teaspoon at a time, and mix. You do not want this to be runny. Bee in Our Bonnet has great tips on this. If I had done more research before starting to ice the cookies, I would have bought some squirt bottles from the craft store. I ended up spooning icing on the cookies and spreading the icing to the edges using a toothpick. I don’t recommend this, though. The squirt bottle would have been more precise. This part of the icing process is called “flooding.”

I won’t lie— the entire process is very time-consuming! The drying time takes a long time as well. Most of my cookies dried overnight, but some were still a little sticky–especially if the icing was a little too thick.

My end result wasn’t exactly what I desired, but practice does make perfect. Next time, I’ll research how to make them dry shinier. Oh, and I’ll take my time icing them. You really can’t rush through it. After the second dozen, I was getting tired! There are some really great royal icing ideas out there–I’m inspired!

Stay tuned for Christmas Cookies, Part 2.

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