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blossoms

It’s beginning to look a lot like COOKIES!

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Fire up the oven and dust off your cookie cutters: Holiday baking season is in full swing. Here are five classic recipes for your next cookie swap.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe from Hershey’s, available at hersheys.com. Makes about 4 dozen.

Ingredients
48 chocolate kisses
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar

Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

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Gingerbread People


From “The Joy of Cooking,” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. Adapted for high altitude. Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cutters.

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter, brown sugar and egg until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla and lemon zest and beat until well combined.

Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until well blended and smooth. Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (The dough can also be stored for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temperature before using.)

To bake, position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Very lightly sprinkle flour over the surface of the dough and dust the rolling pin. Roll out to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Lift the dough frequently and add a bit more flour to the work surface and rolling pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut out the cookies using a 5-inch-tall gingerbread boy or girl cutter. With a spatula, transfer them to the cookie sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Roll the dough scraps and continue cutting out cookies until all the dough is used. If desired, garnish with nonpareils, nuts, raisins or red hots.

Bake 1 sheet at a time, until the edges of the cookies are just barely dark, 7 to 10 minutes; rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

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Rolled Cutout Butter Cookies

Recipe from “Crazy About Cookies,” by Krystina Castella (Sterling). If you can’t find superfine sugar at your grocery store, you can approximate it by blitzing granulated sugar in your food processor for about 1 minute. Make sure you process it before measuring. Give these cookies a flavor boost with some grated lemon, lime or orange zest (about a tablespoon added with the vanilla). Makes about 20 (2-inch) cookies.

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions
Beat the butter and superfine sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk. Add the whole egg, salt and vanilla and stir to combine.

Gradually stir in the flour. Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling, cutting and baking.

Bake cutouts at 350 degrees for about 10-14 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the edges (watch carefully). Cool completely before decorating.

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Toffee Squares

From “Very Merry Cookie Party: How to Plan and Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange,” by Barbara Grunes and Virginia Van Vynckt (Chronicle Books). The authors write, “To heighten the toffee flavor, substitute toffee baking bits for half of the chopped almonds.” Makes 48 squares.

Ingredients

For the crust
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping
7 to 8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2cups chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350.

Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Prepare the crust. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. The dough will be stiff. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.

Bake in the center of the oven until pale gold on top, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute.

Remove the pan again and, using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares, then carefully remove from the pan with a small offset spatula or an icing spatula.

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Linzer Cookies

Recipe from epicurious .com. Tested at high altitude. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients
2/3 cup hazelnuts (3 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 12-ounce jar seedless raspberry jam

Directions
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until fragrant and skins begin to loosen, about 6 minutes. Rub nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins (some skins may not come off), then cool to room temperature.

Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle) or 6 minutes with a hand-held mixer. Add nut mixture and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

With floured hands, form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out 1 disk of dough into an 11-inch round ( 1/8-inch thick) between 2 sheets of wax paper (keep remaining dough chilled). If dough becomes too soft to roll out, rewrap in plastic and chill until firm. Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with larger cookie cutter and transfer to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging about 1 inch apart. Using smaller cutters, cut out centers from half of the cookies, reserving centers and rerolling along with scraps (reroll only once). Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes total, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies from second disk.

Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on flat side of 1 solid cookie and sandwich jam with flat side of 1 windowed cookie. Sandwich remaining cookies in same manner.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Catherine December 8, 2010

    The Peanut Butter Blossoms are a family favorite around here. I love cookies and cookie baking. I’m actually hosting a virtual cookie exchange on Evolving Mommy. Thanks for sharing these recipes!

  • comment avatar Aleesha Banks December 17, 2013

    I want one of these cookie. I really in love with your gingerbread Man. :) :)

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