Christmas Cookies Add To Festive Fun

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Photo courtesy of Wilton Products

Gingerbread house kits like “Welcome to Candy Lane” come with all the components and easy-to-follow instructions.

You might have a cookie exchange to go to yet this season, or need some “fall back” gift-giving items for unexpected guests or as a token of appreciation for the services provided by Rim businesses you frequent. To help out, here are a few Christmas cookie recipes.

’Tis the Season for Everything Gingerbread

Gingerbread is synonymous with the holidays. Who can resist the sweet-spicy aroma of gingerbread baking, and the absolute fun of decorating gingerbread creations such as a welcoming gingerbread house, or cookies for dessert, gift giving and, of course, for Santa.

No time to bake, assemble and decorate a house? No problem! Start with a kit — all of the components needed to assemble the house are baked and ready to use. And the kit is complete with easy-to-follow instructions, icing mix, candies, decorating bag and tip, plus several ideas for completing the house. For a more customized house, like “Welcome to Candy Lane” pictured on page 10, check out the complete instructions in the new book, “Wilton Cookie Exchange.”

This classic Gingerbread Cookie recipe, redolent with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, is perfect for cutting into holiday shapes, including the favorite gingerbread man... which can be enjoyed plain, simply outlined in white icing, or more elaborately decorated. This versatile recipe could also be the basis for a homemade gingerbread house, or tree ornaments. For ornaments, don’t forget to make a hole in the cookie (using a thin drinking straw) immediately after removing from the oven.

Visit www.wilton.com to order “Cookie Exchange,” or a Gingerbread House Kit and to find additional holiday gingerbread treats... plus many more ideas for holiday celebrations.

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup molasses*

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In large saucepan, melt shortening; cool slightly. Stir in sugar, molasses and egg; mix well. Add 2 cups flour mixture; mix well.

Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining flour mixture by hand. Add additional flour, if necessary, to make firm dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies with holiday cutters in a variety of shapes.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet until lightly browned on edges, about 10-15 minutes for large sized cookies, 6-10 minutes for small to medium sized cookies. Cool on cookie sheet placed on cooling grid 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet and cool completely. Decorate as desired.

*Substitute 3/4 cup light corn syrup for molasses to make Blonde Gingerbread.

Source: Wilton Products

Chocolate tops holiday cookie trays

From bittersweet and semisweet to white and dark, chocolate is by far one of the most popular baking ingredients, and for good reason. These festive recipes from America’s Dairy Farmers use several different types of chocolate. Look for a good-quality chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa — it will deliver the best flavor and melt better.

Visit ButterIsBest.com for more baking tips and holiday cookie and candy recipes made with real butter. While there, sign up for the daily holiday cookie e-newsletter, “Better Baking with Butter,” available to subscribers through Dec. 24.

Mount Rainier Macaroons

Makes 3 dozen cookies

3 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled slightly

2, 7-ounce bags sweetened coconut flakes

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup flour

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup white chocolate chips

Whisk eggs and sugar together in large saucepan until mixture thickens. Add butter slowly, whisking to blend. Gently mix in coconut and vanilla extract with wooden spoon. Sprinkle flour evenly over mixture and blend well.

Place pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and dry, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to large bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool; 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape about 2 tablespoons of dough into small “mountain” shapes and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Dip pointy ends of macaroons in chocolate, leaving small area around the bottom exposed. Place cookies on wax paper and let stand until chocolate is firm. Melt white chocolate over low heat in clean saucepan, stirring constantly. Dip top points of each cookie into white chocolate to add “snow cap.” Allow white chocolate to set at least 3 hours.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Wintermint Wafers

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Chocolate Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1/2 cups flour

Chocolate Coating:

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Cookies

In large bowl, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in peppermint extract followed by salt and cocoa powder; mix. Add flour and mix to incorporate.

Divide dough in two pieces and place each on large sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten into 1/2-inch thick discs, wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove chilled dough, place disc between two sheets of parchment; roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut desired shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 5 to 6 minutes. Remove cookies from oven; cool on pan 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Coating

Place chocolate in large microwave-safe dish. Microwave 30 seconds on high, stir and continue to microwave in 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring after each until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in peppermint extract.

To frost cookies, place one cookie on slotted spatula, carefully dip into the chocolate, coating completely; lift cookie out. Hold cookie on spatula, allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Place cookie onto wire cooling rack to let chocolate set. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Place coated cookies in freezer for 1 hour to set before storing or serving. Store cookies in airtight container for up to 1 week, or in freezer for up to 3 weeks.

Source: National Butter Promotion

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