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Favorite Cookies

by Catherine Fournier

Christmas cookies are a big part of our Christmas preprations and celebrations. I make dozens of different kinds of cookies for the teachers and staff of my children's schools, the cookie exchange at the Mother's Rosary group, and for all those male relatives and friends who really don't need another coffee mug or tie. Attractively wrapped, they are inexpensive, easy and well received by all.

If you have some favorite cookie recipes, ones whose baking smell really signals 'Christmas!' for you, please sent them to us and we'll include them on this list.

Shortbread:

Brown Sugar Shortbread:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Cream butter with sugar until well blended. Stir in flour, blending until dough is formed. Refrigerate for one hour. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness on well floured board and cut into shapes or form into 1 inch balls and flatten with a fork. Place on baking sheets and bake in 300 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes for shapes and 20 to 30 minutes for balls or until lightly browned. Transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool. Makes about 48 cookies.

Ginger Shortbread
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp finely chooped candied ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

In bowl, beat butter iwth sugar until light and fluffy. Add ground and candied ginger. Stir flour, 1/2 cup at a time into butter mixture to make a stiff dough. Knead gently for 2 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes, placed on baking sheets, bake at 300 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks, allow to cool. Makes about 65 cookies.

Aunt Ena's Shortbread
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 cup fruit sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour (optional)

Measure flour and sugar into a bowl, and stir together. Drop in butter and cut into flour with a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers, until the dough is thoroughly mixed, crumbly with no lumps of butter or streaks of flour showing. Pat the shortbread firmly into a 9 by 13 inch pan, pressing down with a fork all over the surface. Bake in a 275 degree oven for about 30 to 45 minutes or until faintly browned. When almost cool, cut diagonally into diamond shaped pieces. Allow to cool completely and remove from pan. Makes about 36 pieces.

Hazelnut Shortbread
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 to 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast hazelnuts in a roasting pan for 10 to 13 minutes, tossing occasionally. Turn them out onto a rough towel, wrap for a few minutes, then rub vigourously to loosen the skins. Let the hazelnuts cool and chop finely in a food processor or blender. Set aside 3/4 cup nuts, save the rest for decorating the cookies.

Increase oven heat to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, blend butter and sugar. Sift flour over the butter mixture, sprinkle the 3/4 cup chopped nuts and nutmeg over all. With a spoon, blend thoroughly, dough will form a ball. Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough. Divide the dough in half and place each half on a baking sheet. Pat into round disks about 7 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick, then divide the rounds into quarters and each quarter into three with a sharp knife.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookies from oven, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool. Melt the chocolate and dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate. Sprinkle with reserved hazelnuts and set cookies on wax paper until chocolate has hardened. Makes 24 wedges.

Sugar Cookies

Basic Sugar Cookies
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 3/4 to 3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla or almond extract, and beat well. Combine flour and other dry ingredients and add to batter. Stir with a wooden spoon or beat gently with an electric mixer just until the flour is blended into the batter. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. Add more flour if necessary. chill unitl ready to roll.

Roll dough on floured surface to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut shapes and use spatula to transfer the cookies to baking sheet. If desired, brush with egg white and sprinkle with coloured or plain sugar, or paint with food colour before baking. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden around the edges. Let cool a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Lemon Crisps
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
Glaze
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together butter and granulated sugar until well blended and creamy. Add egg, lemon rind, and juice. Beat well. Combine flour, icing sugar, cornstarch and soda and sift over butter mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon or on lowest electric mixer setting until well blended. Divide dough into four portions. Shape each portion into a cylinder 2 inches in diameter and wrap well in waxed paper. Alternatively, pack dough into a paper frozen juice can with both ends cut off. Set in a plastic bag and freeze for about 45 minutes or until needed. When ready to bake, remove from freezer and slice 1/4 inch thick with a sharp knife. Set 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until light golden around the edges. Transfer to cooling racks set over sheets of waxed paper.

While the cookies are baking, make the glaze by stirring together the glaze ingredients. While the cookies are still hot, brush the glaze over them. As the cookies cool, the glaze will become shiny. Makes about 48 cookies.

Double Chocolate Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

In bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir flour into batter. Stir in chopped chocolate bits. Divide dough into thirds, roll each third into 8 inch long log. Wrap well in waxed paper, twisting ends to seal. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until firm enough to slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool. Makes about 84 cookies.

Mexican Mocha Balls
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

In bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, beat in vanilla. Stir in cocoa, coffee and salt, then stir in flour mixing until it is all well blended. Add cherries and walnuts. Cover bowl and refrigerate for about an hour. Form dough into 1 inch balls, roll in more sugar to cover. Place on baking sheets and bake at 325 degress for 20 minutes or until top begins to crack. Remove from oven, transfer to cooling racks to cool. Makes about 40 cookies.

Chocolates

Mocha Truffles
  • 6 squares (ounces) semisweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp strong coffee or
  • 2 tsp instant coffee and 3 tbsp coffee liquer
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup ground walnuts

Melt chocolate, butter and instant coffee (if using) together in a bowl set over hot water, or in the microwave. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly. Slowly blend in coffee and icing sugar. Chill for an hour or until firm enough to handle. Roll inot 1/2 inch balls (Make sure your hands are cool) then roll balls in cocoa. Refrigerate. Makes about 36 truffles.

Chocolate Almond Bark
  • 6 squares (ounces) bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 squares (ounces) white chocolate
  • 1 cup whole toasted almonds or raisins

Break each square of chocolate into several pieces. Place white and bittersweet chocolate in separate bowls, melt over hot water, stirring often until completely melted. Alternatively, half melt in microwave and stir until completely melted. Stir half the nuts or fruit into each bowl of melted chocolate. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a waxed paper lined baking sheet in an alternating pattern, like a checkerboard. Using the end of a tableknife, draw the bittersweet and white chocolate into each other to create a marbled swirling effect. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to spread the chocolate and eliminate bubbles. Refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces.

Coconut Macaroons
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 2/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 5 ounces, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Blend all ingredients together until well mixed. Drop by spoonfuls about 1 1/2 inches apart onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper if available, and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool. Melt chocolate over hot water or in microwave and dip the bottom of each cooled macaroon into it. Set upside down on waxed paper to cool and harden the chocolate. Makes about 36.

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