If Christmas had a taste, it would be gingerbread. I personally think the sugar cookie was made for Santa Claus. And let's not forget how steeped in tradition shortbread is.
What's all this mean? It's holiday-baking time – for the upcoming parties, swaps and sweets just to be enjoyed with family and friends.
Everyone has their favourite cookie cutter and there's great debate between using a marble rolling pin over a plain wooden pin (chilled marble rolls out a butter-based cookie dough to perfection, many have told me.)
I have my great-great grandmother's rolling pin, a thin, delicate device that has been handed down from mother to daughter throughout the years.
And, just like my special cookie cutters, I take her out just once a year.
She is worth the wait.
The following cookie recipes are definitely worth the wait, too. With cookie swap parties in high gear, here's your chance to add a couple of new recipes to your family favourites.
If you want a taste of Christmas, just inhale the heavenly aromas from your kitchen after freshly baked cookies come out of the oven. Now that's a gift worth waiting for.
Enjoy the following recipes that I guarantee are keepers for years to come.
CLASSIC LINZER COOKIES
Known for its delicate shape and sweet taste, this holiday treat is a family tradition. Recipe courtesy of Robin Hood.
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) butter, softened
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) granulated sugar
- 2 1/3 cups (575 ml) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) ground almonds
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
- 1 cup (250 ml) summer fruit spread (or favourite spread)
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) icing sugar
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until combined. Beat in next 3 ingredients, until a soft dough forms. Shape dough into 2 flat discs. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll discs to about â inch (0.3 cm) thick. Cut out cookies with a 2 ½ inch (6 cm) cookie cutter. Use a smaller cookie cutter to punch out a hole in centre of half of cookies. These will be tops of cookie sandwiches.
Place cookies on prepared baking sheets 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack, 30 minutes.
Place cookies bottom side up and spread with 2 tsp. (10 ml) fruit spread. Top with a cutout cookie. Press lightly to form a sandwich. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
Makes 24 sandwich cookies. Excellent for freezing.
TIP: Choose your favourite themed cookie cutters for a special occasion or a holiday party.
MULLED CIDER SHORTBREAD BARS
Delicate and delightful, these bars are sure to please. Recipe courtesy of Gay Lea.
- 2 cups (500ml) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (175ml) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup (125ml) instant dissolving sugar
- 1/2 tsp. (2ml) salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 cups (500ml) instant dissolving sugar
- 1/3 cup (75ml) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) apple cider (or apple juice)
- 2 tsp. (10ml) EACH finely grated orange zest and ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. (5ml) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. (2ml) ground nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp. (30ml) icing sugar
Crust: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Combine flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse until crumbly. Firmly press dough into a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) baking pan lined with foil. Bake for 25 minutes or until pale golden around edges.
Filling: Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar and flour until a very thick paste forms. Whisk in apple cider, orange zest, cinnamon, baking powder and nutmeg until smooth. Reduce oven temperature to 300F (150C). Pour egg mixture over hot crust. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until just set. Cool to room temperature. Chill for at least 4 hours or until firm. Dust top with icing sugar and slice into bars.
Makes 32 bars.
TIP: Make-ahead: Transfer bars to an airtight container and store, in fridge, for up to 4 days or in freezer up to 1 month.
COOKIE DOUGH TRUFFLES
Measure, mix and dip! Gather your little helping hands and get rolling. Recipe courtesy of Robin Hood.
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) graham cracker crumbs
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) oats
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
- 1 can (300 ml) regular or low-fat sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 lbs. (680 g) good-quality milk, white or dark chocolate, melted (Lindt recommended)
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Mix in graham cracker crumbs, oats and salt. Add sweetened condensed milk, mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips.
With clean hands, your kids will love rolling cookie dough into balls or shaping them into other fun holiday shapes.
Freeze 30 minutes, or until dough is firm. Roll dough into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls and freeze 30 minutes, or until firm.
(For a sweet surprise, hide a caramel inside truffles.)
Dip cookie dough balls into melted chocolate to cover, allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Return to baking sheet and chill in refrigerator or freezer until set. Serve cold. Before chocolate hardens, add sprinkles or crushed candy canes on top of truffles.
Makes about 60 truffles; excellent freezing.
TIP: To melt chocolate, bring 1-2-inch (2.5 cm-5 cm) of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Place chocolate in heat proof bowl and place bowl over boiling water. Ensure bottom of bowl does not touch the water. Remove saucepan from heat. Let stand 3-5 minutes and stir.