Every year when the holiday season rolls around, I put making Christmas cookies on my to-do list. Unfortunately, so many other things end up on that list that I don’t always get around to it, but this year’s early snow and winter-y weather inspired me to spend some time in the kitchen baking.
“I’m going to make some Christmas cookies and give them to the neighbors,” I told the family.
Well, they’d heard that before and were not sure I would actually follow through. My cousin used to call people who said they were going to do something they never followed through on an “imagonna” as in “I’m a gonna go to the gym every day”. All intention, no action.
I didn’t want to be an imagonna this year, so I put a favorite sugar cookie recipe to work and got busy.
I recently discovered different versions of vanilla flavoring and wanted to give those a try, too. I picked up vanilla paste and vanilla powder and worked them into my sugar cookie recipe.
The vanilla paste is a remarkable addition to a cookie recipe; it takes the cookies from basic to brilliant with just a spoonful. It’s a little pricey but it doesn’t take much to add a rich vanilla flavor and you can see little specks of ground up vanilla bean in the paste so your cookies look like they were made in a fancy gourmet bakery.
In other cookie adventures, I had a request to make molasses cookies from a recipe my friend’s mother passed along. The recipe originally called for shortening but I didn’t have any so I substituted butter. I also added a pinch of baking powder so the cookies would rise a little and ended up with a delicious cookie that tasted like mom used to make.
I love a good chocolate cookie so I also made some dark chocolate chews with peppermint Hersey’s kisses in the center. The red and white kisses give the cookies a festive look, perfect for gift giving or leaving out on a plate for Santa.
If you’re looking for some easy cookies to make this season, check out these cookie recipes and gather up some fun toppings like sprinkles, colored sugar and crushed candy canes. Don’t be an imagonna.
Vanilla Sugar Cookies
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
Assorted decorations such as sprinkles and colored sugar, if desired
Add butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream together using an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla paste and beat for an additional one to two minutes, until creamy and well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, vanilla powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well to combine. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cover a flat surface with wax paper and divide the dough in half. Pat half of the dough into a large ball and set on the wax paper, then cover with a second sheet of wax paper. Use a rolling pin and roll the dough until it is about a quarter of an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut the dough, then set the cookies on the baking sheet. Repeat until there is no dough remaining. Brush the tops of the cookies very lightly with water (this will help the sprinkles and decorations stick). Garnish with sprinkles or crushed candy canes, then set in a oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown lightly. Remove from oven and cool.
Mary’s Molasses Cookies
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. molasses
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 c. flour
Coarse sugar for sanding
Add butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream together using an electric mixer. Add the egg and molasses and beat for an additional one to two minutes, until creamy and well combined. In a separate bowl, add the flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and whisk together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well to combine. Add the sanding sugar to a small bowl. Scoop about a tablespoonful and roll into a ball, then set in the bowl of sugar and roll to coat. Set the cookie on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough(be sure to leave a couple of inches in between each cookie because they will spread as they bake). Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies appear slightly cracked on the top.
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Kisses
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1/2 c. dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
10 oz. package Hersey’s peppermint kisses
1/4 c. Ande’s Creme De Menthe baking chips (optional)
Sanding sugar (optional)
Add butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients into the wet and stir well to combine. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add sanding sugar to a shallow bowl. Scoop up a heaping tablespoonful of dough and roll into a ball. Roll ball in the sugar, then set on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Leave a couple of inches between cookies to allow for them to spread while baking. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies look slightly cracked. Remove from oven and immediate press a Hersey’s kiss into the center of each, then sprinkle with about a teaspoon of Creme De Menthe baking chips, if desired. Allow cookies to cool, then serve.