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Bake it merry

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

By Angie Sutton

The holiday season is upon us and cookies are a great way to warm your home and warm the hearts ofthose who join you this festive season. Enjoy the fun and merriment of making one of these recipes withyour kids or grandkids. Wrap them in a little tin or partner a few them with fruit in a basket for yourneighbors. Good cookies are meant to be shared! May you and your family have a Merry Christmas!


Soft Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

Ingredients:

1 c. shortening
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. dark molasses
5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. tap water

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until easy to handle.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Apron Strings Tips: Dip the cookie cutters in flour before making each cut. Always include like-sized cookies on the same pan to ensure the baking time and avoid burnt cookies. Frost your cookies or dust with confectioners' sugar once they are cooled. These freeze well and are a good make-ahead treat.


Elf Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients:

1 c. granulated sugar, divided
3 drops red food coloring
3 drops green food coloring
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
Filling:
2 c. confectioners' sugar
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2 tsp. heavy whipping cream
3/4 tsp. almond extract
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (1-oz.) pkg. ranch seasoning mix (3 Tbsp.)
2 c. chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide granulated sugar evenly between two small bowls. Using a fork, toss the sugar as you add the drops of green food color until all sugar is coated. Repeat with the second bowl and the red food coloring. Set aside. You can also purchase colored sugar.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in almond extract. Gradually add flour and mix well.

3. Shape into 1/2-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Coat bottom of two glasses with cooking spray, then dip one in red sugar and the other in green sugar. Flatten cookies alternately with prepared glasses, re-dipping in sugar as needed.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

5. Make the cream filling. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, cream and extract. If desired, tint half of the frosting red and the other half green. Frost the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.

Apron Strings Tips: This makes about 5 dozen sandwich cookies.


Cherry Suprise Cookies

Ingredients:
36 maraschino cherries
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Glaze:
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp. tap water
Red and green food coloring
Colored sprinkles, finely chopped nuts, nonpariels

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat cherries dry with paper towels; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffly. Beat in milk and vanilla.

3. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

4. Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each cherry, forming a ball. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

5. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough water to achieve a dipping consistency. Transfer half of the glaze to another bowl; tint one bowl green and the other red. Dip the tops of half the cookies in green glaze and the remainder in red glaze. Decorate with sprinkles. Let stand until set.

Apron Strings Tips: Makes 3 dozen cookies. You'll want to make sure the bottom of your cookies are lightly browned to ensure they are done.


Apron Strings Tips--Giftable food Ideas

Cranberry-Pecan Chocolate Bark

Inspired by King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

1 c. dried cranberries
3/4 c. toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 2/3 c. semisweet chocolate, melted
2 2/3 c. white chocolate, melted

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, toss the cranberries and pecans together; set aside.

2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper about 12-inches long.

3. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and spread it onto the parchment paper. Allow the chocolate to set, but not harden completely.

4. Melt the white chocolate and mix it with 3/4 cup of the cranberry-pecan mix. Spread this over the semichocolate. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.

5. Allow the candy to cool until hardened, then break it into chunks.

Apron Strings Tips: If you use the microwave to melt your chocolate, be sure to use a lower power level and check it every 30 seconds. If you prefer dark chocolate, you can swap it out with the semi-sweet chocolate. Try combinations such as walnuts/dried bing cherries, pistachios/dried apricots, crushed chocolate cookies with frosting or take the easy route and use a bag of trail mix. To make the peppermint stick version: skip the nuts and fruit, mix a few drops of peppermint oil into the semi-sweet chocolate, add 3 Tbsp. crushed peppermint candy into the white chocolate and sprinkle a bit more on top.

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