Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Cookies

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Photo of Mrs. J’s great cookies by JeffreyW

A friend asked me if I would like to spend the afternoon baking holiday cookies with her for a charity exchange. I was happy to, the colder it gets, the more I enjoy baking. She asked me if I had any good cookie recipes. I tried not to laugh. I picked out three of my favorites and realized it would be a great idea for this week’s recipe exchange.

My very favorite this time of year are Citrus Drops, because with all the sweets, the buttery tartness is welcome. Click here for the recipe.

Next up are my Fruit Pie Cookies, an idea that came to me when I had leftover pie filling and a mini-muffin tin. They are delicious, pretty, but a bit time consuming to make. Recipe is here.

And the always fun, M & M Cookies, a hit with kids of all ages. Click here.

That just scratches the surface, for all the cookie recipes on the blog (there are 78 of them), you’ll find them here, there are some gluten free options, too.

What’s on the weekend menu? What’s your favorite cookie for the holidays? Do you make cookie trays to give as gifts? Share your favorite recipes in the comments.

Tonight’s featured recipe is one that I loved when I was a kid. My best friend and I would make them when we had sleepovers. Perfect for cold New England days. It took me a while to find the recipe again.  Easy and elegant.

Lace Cookies2b

Looking for another cookie to add to the cookie tray you give as gifts? These are very pretty. You can add chocolate drizzle to really make them look festive (I’d melt semi-sweet or cacao chocolate chips for the drizzle).

Easy to make, pretty to look at.

Coconut Lace Cookies

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup

baking sheet, bowl

Combine flour, oats, sugar, coconut, & baking soda in bowl, mix well. Add water, butter & syrup and stir well. Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes until almost set, remove to rack to completely cool. Makes 2 dozen.

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Coconut Lace Cookies

Lace Cookies_Snapseed

Photo updated using snapseed application.

Looking for another cookie to add to the cookie tray you give as gifts? These are very pretty. You can add chocolate drizzle to really make them look festive (I’d melt semi-sweet or cacao chocolate chips for the drizzle).

Easy to make, pretty to look at.

Coconut Lace Cookies

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup

baking sheet, bowl

Combine flour, oats, sugar, coconut, & baking soda in bowl, mix well. Add water, margarine & syrup and stir well. Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes until almost set, remove to rack to completely cool. Makes 2 dozen.

Holiday Gift Ideas: Bacon-Cashew Caramel Corn

UPDATE:  I made two batches of caramel corn last night.  I had some success with the bacon version and better success with the second, nuts and popcorn batch.

First, I was only so-so on the bacon.  The sugar really overpowers it and it loses a lot of what I like bacon for, its salty bacon flavor.  It was worth a try, but not something I would do again. It is a great conversation starter, though.

Second, cooking times.  I lowered the stove top time for the caramel sauce down to 1 minute after it comes to a boil.  More than that it scorches too easily.  I also lowered the oven to 200 degrees after the first 15 minutes.  Ovens vary, so it may just be mine, but the lower temp created a more even caramel effect, less toasty, which the first batch had.

Third, I started with a large roasting pan, then after about 20 minutes moved it to a baking sheet and I cooked the second batch on baking sheets.  It was much easier than remembering to stir it every 5 or 10 minutes.

I’ve made the changes below.

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Yes, you heard me right.

I was searching around for a good caramel corn recipe, I wanted it to have cashews for sure. Then I stumbled across one that included bacon and I knew that was what I wanted to do.  I looked over a half a dozen or so caramel recipes and put together one I thought was both simple and tasty.  Then I added the bacon and cashews.  I’m planning on making this over the weekend – I’ll update you if there are any changes.

You can use the basic caramel recipe and substitute nuts of your choice and eliminate bacon if desired. The recipe lends itself to just plain caramel corn if you like, or use dried fruits or other imaginative ingredients to make it your own. I think the possibilities are endless.  But I think a salty addition is necessary to complement the sweetness of the caramel.

Cashew Bacon Caramel Corn

Note: You can use the basic recipe and substitute nuts of your choice and eliminate bacon if desired.

  • 8 oz maple smoked bacon, cut into eight pieces per strip
  • 12 cups (3 quarts) of popped corn
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups cashews (or peanuts, or peanut/cashew mix)

Skillet, saucepan, roasting pan  baking sheets

In skillet, cook bacon until mostly crisp, drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Reduce to 200 degrees after 15 minutes of baking.

Place popcorn into a well-greased roasting pan.

In saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes 1 minute worked better. Remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda (yes, it will foam up). Gently stir nuts and bacon into sugar mixture and pour over popcorn, toss, coating popcorn evenly. Bake, stirring occasionally, until popcorn is a deep golden brown, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours  – mine was done at the 1 hour mark. Cool and break apart.

Thursday Night Before Christmas Menu: Christmas Morning Edition

I’ve decided this will be our traditional Thursday Night before Christmas Menu. One quick note,  if you haven’t seen it, JeffW has a great shot our blog mascot and his hero here.

From 2009:

This is my traditional Christmas morning breakfast. These are simple to make and taste so good.   And of course I’ve included a recipe for Santa’s cookies, ‘cause you know the better the cookies, the better the presents he leaves you, so you don’t want to be leaving any store-bought cookies.  On the board tonight:

  1. German Pancakes
  2. Walnut Syrup
  3. Sliced Peaches
  4. Santa Cookies

German Pancakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup butter

2 oven proof skillets, large mixing bowl & 2 large plates

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Place skillets in oven and heat.

You’ll need to cook these in two batches. Mix all ingredients together except butter, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Batter will be lumpy. Do not over mix.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in each skillet, swirling around sides. Ladle ¼ of batter into each skillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to two large plates, cut into each in half and serve. Top with syrup or powdered sugar.

Cook remaining batter. Add 2 tbsp of butter to pans, swirl, split remaining batter, bake for 15-20 minutes while everyone chows down on first batch.   Serve with walnut syrup or powdered sugar and sliced peaches.  Serves 4

Walnut Syrup

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

saucepan

Heat sugars, syrup and water to low boil. Reduce heat, simmer until thickened, 10-12 minutes. Stir in butter & nuts. Great over ice cream, too

Santa Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • colored sugars or colored frosting

mixing bowl &  baking sheets

Cream butter & sugar with electric mixer. Add sugar, baking powder, salt and mix well. Beat in egg, vanilla and 1 cup flour. At this point you’ll probably have to hand mix the last 1 ¼ cups of flour. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Divide dough in half. Refrigerate ½, roll out other half to ¼- ½ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, bake at 325 degrees for 7-8 minutes (don’t over cook). Decorate with colored sugars immediately or with frosting after they’ve cooled. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes 36 cookies…enough for Santa and all the reindeer.

Shopping List

  • Peaches
  • 5 cups flour
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) + butter
  • 2 oz light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • colored frostings and sugars, other cookie decorations as desired

Also: baking powder, salt, vanilla