Make Holiday Baking More Fun With A Cookie Party

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Invite some friends to bring one dozen of their favorite holiday cookie for each invitee, plus more to nibble on at the party. Have containers ready so your guests can take an assortment of bar, drop, sandwich and cutout cookies home.

Make your own cookies stand out when you use the secret ingredients favored by both home bakers and chefs -- molasses and pure maple syrup, both 100 percent all-natural, pure sweeteners.

Molasses complements chocolate, nuts and spices, and gives cookies that irresistible "I-can't-eat-just-one" homemade taste.

Use pure maple syrup in place of refined sugar: For each 1 cup sugar, substitute 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups maple syrup, then remove 2 to 4 tablespoons milk, water or other liquid in the recipe.

For more recipes and information, visit www.grandmasmolasses.com and www.maplegrove.com.

Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

3/4 cup sugar (Maple Grove Maple Sugar is preferable)

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Maple Grove Pure Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-1/4 cups flour

1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar, butter and egg. Mix in milk, syrup and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheet or ungreased parchment paper. Bake about 12 minutes. "Paste" 2 cookies together with Filling or make "Sandwiches" using ice cream slices between cookies and freeze.

Filling

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 cup marshmallow fluff

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Mix ingredients together and use as "paste" for cookie sandwiches

Yield: 16+ sandwich cookies, depending upon size

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup cocoa powder

8 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground

1/2 cup Grandmas Original or Robust Molasses

4 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 ounces chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and cocoa together. Set aside. Cream butter and ginger until light. Stir in molasses and 2 tablespoons sugar. Gradually add flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll 1 tablespoon dough into ball with palms and flatten into disks. Dip in crushed candy canes and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Cool.

Maple Almond Bars

Crust

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

3 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour

Topping

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3/4 cup Maple Grove Pure Maple Syrup

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups chopped almonds

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

CRUST:

Lightly grease 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. When light, beat in egg. Add flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, working it in with wooden spoon. Divide dough into four pieces and put one piece in each quadrant of jellyroll pan. Push dough into pan with floured hands, forming a seamless crust. Keep it as even as possible and work it up sides to top of rim. Cover with plastic and chill 15 minutes. Poke dough 3 or 4 times with fork, then bake 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Mix a tiny amount of flour and water together to make thick paste and rub a little into fork holes to close them up.

TOPPING:

After crust has cooled about 20 minutes, melt butter in large saucepan. Add maple syrup, brown sugar and honey, bring to a boil. When it boils, add cream and bring back to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Quickly remove from heat and stir in almonds and vanilla. Pour evenly over crust and bake 20 minutes. It will bubble and darken somewhat. Cool thoroughly on wire rack, cut into bars.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

8 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Grandma's Original Molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in milk, molasses and vanilla. Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Blend into milk mixture. Stir in oats and nuts. Drop by level teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Cool.

Ginger Maple Cutout Cookies

2/3 cup vegetable shortening

1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, softened

1 cup Maple Grove Pure Maple Syrup, at room temperature

1 tablespoon Grandma's Original Molasses

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 cups unbleached or whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream together shortening and butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in maple syrup, molasses and vanilla. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and work them into creamed mixture about 1 cup at a time. Using floured hands, divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic; flatten each into a disk. Chill at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease baking sheet or line with ungreased parchment paper. Roll dough out, one half at a time, onto sheet of waxed paper, to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes, transfer to baking sheet, and bake 8 to 10 minutes, until bottoms are golden. Cool briefly on sheet, transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Decorate as desired.

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