I kicked off my baking this week with two perennial favorites from my holiday repertoire: M&M Cookies and Dipped Log Cookies. My family's love of my M&M Cookies goes way back to my college days when I would make them as a special treat for my (nine year old) younger brother who then sold them at school for a quarter each. (which I discovered many years later) Apparently, they were quite popular! Back then I made them with butter and regular M&M's but nowadays I use Butter Flavor Crisco, which makes them soft and chewy, and green and red M&M's which give them a festive flair. The Dipped Log Cookies are my all-time favorites and the first to disappear at any gathering. They're similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies but with a touch of brandy in the dough. After baking, the warm cookies are rolled in powdered sugar and dipped in rich, milk chocolate. I've never met anybody who could eat just one. I know I can't!
1 cup (1 stick) Butter Flavor Crisco
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag (12-14 ounces) M&M's
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Cream Crisco, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in M&M's.
Drop by tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes; until golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack.
1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped pecans
Melted milk chocolate
Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
Add brandy, vanilla and salt; mix well.
Add flour, stirring until blended; stir in pecans.
Shape dough into 1 ½ x ½ inch logs. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 325°F. for 15 to 20 minutes. Cookies should not brown.
While warm, roll cookies lightly (or dust with) powdered sugar. Place on wire racks to cool. When completely cool, dip one end in melted chocolate. Let stand on wax paper until set.
YIELD: 4 dozen
"GOOD DOG" DOG BISCUITS
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup dry milk
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon beef bouillon, dissolved in ½ cup hot water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Preheat oven to 300.
Combine all ingredients and stir well.
Knead dough 2 minutes on a floured surface. Roll dough to a ¼ inch thickness.
Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased baking sheet. (My baking assistants (a/k/a the kids) love to make these in people shapes. They say, "We eat animal crackers, the dogs should get people biscuits!")
Bake 30 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack.
YIELD: 4 dozen
I have favorites, like the cookies mentioned above, that I make every Christmas but I also enjoy adding a few new recipes to the mix each year so I asked my fellow Dishes; Buffie, Andrea and Gannon, to share a few of their favorite holiday treats with us.
Most people wrinkle their noses when they hear the word fruitcake, and I admit I always felt that way. But these fruitcake cookies are nothing like any fruitcake you’ve ever tasted. My mom baked them every Christmas for many years, and now I (and my eldest niece, too) have continued the tradition. I could eat them for breakfast, they are so good. Enjoy!
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 – 4 oz. container candied cherries (I usually do 2 oz. of red and 2 oz. of green for the color)
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
1 lb. pitted whole dates, chopped
½ cup candied pineapple, chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture, beating until combined. Stir in fruit and nuts. Chill batter overnight. Drop by slightly rounded tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake @ 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
Another recipe from Gannon is easy to make but oh-so-delicious. Gannon says these cookies can be made all year long, but she enjoys giving them away to friends and co-workers during the holidays. She always make a double batch, because her family is crazy about them!
1 (20 oz.) roll of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough
1 bag Reese’s mini peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough evenly into 9 slices, then quarter each slice and place 1 in each greased mini muffin tin cup. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. While dough is baking, unwrap peanut butter cups. Remove cookies from even and immediately press a candy into each cookie. Leave to cool completely in the pan. Makes 3 dozen.
While I make a variety of cookies during the holiday season, my most requested sugary item is my Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bonbons. These round little balls of sweet decadence are always the first things to go.
24 chocolate cream-filled cookies, divided
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package (1 pound) powdered sugar
Coarsely chop 12 cookies; set aside.
Place remaining 12 cookies in a food processor; process until fine crumbs form. Place crumbs on baking sheet lined with waxed paper; set aside.
Beat cream cheese, dry milk and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, at low speed until mixture is smooth. Stir in reserved chopped cookies. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
Shape rounded tablespoonfuls of cream cheese mixture into balls. Roll balls in reserved cookie crumbs. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3 dozen bonbons
Andrea says she "loves Red Velvet anything." After reading her recipe and taking a look at the photo of the cookies she recently made I can hardly wait to make some in my kitchen! Here's the recipe for Andrea's Red Velvet Cookies.
• 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 ¼ cups sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons red food coloring
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• ¾ cup buttermilk
• parchment paper
Cream Cheese Frosting:
• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• ½ cup butter, softened
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• salt, a dash
• 1 (1 pound) box powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes, until creamy.
4. Gradually add sugar, beating well.
5. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
6. Beat in food coloring and vanilla extract.
7. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
8. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed.
9. Drop by ¼ cupfuls 3 inched apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
10. Spread dough to 3-inch rounds.
11. Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are set; cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes.
12. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely.
13. Crumble 1 cookie into fine crumbs to use as garnish. (optional)
14. Make frosting—beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 minute, until creamy.
15. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed 2 minutes or until smooth.
16. Spread about 2 ½ tablespoons cream cheese frosting onto each cookie; sprinkle with crumbs (optional).
17. Store cookies in refrigerator up to 5 days.
Those are some of the holiday treats we Dishes enjoy making every Christmas. How about you? What homemade treats signal the arrival of holiday festivities in your home? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? We're always looking for new ones to add to our baking fun!