By Debbs Hammett
Baking cookies during the holidays stirs up many fond memories. I would bake for weeks and have literally hundreds of cookies prepared by the time Christmas arrived! Each family member had their favorites and they would be shared and enjoyed throughout the holidays. It is a wonderful family tradition that my daughters carry on now.
I hope you have time to bake some old fashioned traditional Christmas cookies with your family. However, even if you don’t have much time you can be a cookie baking rock star with a few insider tips from an old pro! I have found that cookie mixes, available in the baking section of the grocery store, are a great timesaving baking trick. Generally, all you have to do is add an egg, butter/margarine, water, and bake. So simple! However, it gets even better. These mixes can become the foundation for an amazing variety of cookies with the addition of a few more ingredients. This time of year the sugar cookie mix is my favorite because it’s so versatile.
To the basic sugar cookie mix you can add any of the following:
- White chocolate chips and crushed pretzels
- White chocolate chips and chopped macadamia nuts
- Crushed candy canes
- 1 teaspoon rum extract and grated nutmeg (for an eggnog flavor)
- Halve the dough and add red food coloring to half and green to half
- Dunk baked cookies halfway in melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts
- Make sugar snowmen by rolling dough in 3 balls increasing in size. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Arrange next to each other on cookie sheet and add mini chocolate chips for eyes.
- Roll balls of dough in cinnamon sugar and flatten with glass
- Put two baked sugar cookies together with your favorite flavor jam or jelly
- Add 1 cup of cocoa to make chocolate sugar cookies, you can add nuts to these
- Half the amount of butter called for and wrap around a maraschino cherry that you’ve stuffed with chocolate chips
- Add freshly grated orange rind, chopped dates and chopped walnuts
- Put two baked cookies together with any frosting flavor or Nutella (chocolate/hazelnut spread)
As you’re mixing in your butter and egg, add a 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to the sugar cookies. Then add any of the following:
- Coconut and ground pecans
- Dried cranberries and chopped pistachios, walnuts or pecans (pictured dipped in white chocolate)*
- Freshly grated lemon rind along with the lemon extract and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar (pictured)
*My husband thinks these are too sweet dipped in white chocolate. Dipping them in melted dark chocolate would balance the sweetness.
Or, add 1 teaspoon of almond extract and:
- Chopped maraschino cherries (pictured drizzled with melted white chocolate)
- Roll dough into balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in colored sugar** (pictured)
- Chopped almonds and chocolate chips
**Hint: Before you try to flatten the first cookie you can rub a little cookie dough onto the bottom of the glass to get the sugar to stick to it.
This time of year you can find gingerbread cookie mix. I mix it according to the package directions, roll them out and cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Then I put them together with a filling made from 4 oz. room temperature cream cheese, a couple tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar, teaspoon vanilla and a handful of chopped pecans.
Cute and delicious! (pictured)
You will also see in the picture a simple oatmeal cookie that I make a little more special by adding dried cranberries, nuts and white chocolate chips. Though I wouldn’t classify this as a Christmas cookie, I get asked for the recipe so often I thought I would include it here. Sometimes I substitute orange juice for the water called for in the instructions on the oatmeal cookie pouch. A great basic cookie anytime!
After writing all this, I stumbled over the Betty Crocker website which has, you guessed it, recipes that use the cookie mixes. Some are a little more complicated than just adding a few ingredients, but they are well worth checking out! The website is BettyCrocker.com. You can even submit your own recipes.
Keep these mixes in your house and you will always be able to bless your family and friends with fresh-from-the-oven cookies! I hope you and yours have a very sweet Christmas!
(Debbs and Pete, her husband of 32 years, have three grown children. They have great fun with their two grandsons and are looking forward to welcoming a granddaughter soon. Debbs has worked with the Keepers Ministry for the past year as Co-Leader and in Ministry Development.)
Click on the fifth button above to get a printer friendly version of this post.