Recipes for cookie-making day

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we will all head full force into Christmas preparations, which for many people, includes making homemade cookies.

Cookie making can be a fun and enjoyable event, especially when shared with someone else. So gather together family and friends and plan a cookie-making day together. When many people work together, it is amazing what you can accomplish.

This cookie-making column is extremely lengthy and printed here are just a couple of recipes, so log into the website to read more recipe swap cookie recipes and to see the full cookie collection; you won't be disappointed. There is no way I could include everything I wanted to include, but this is a good start.

Happy cookie making!

Butterfinger Chunk Cookies

These Butterfinger Cookies are so chewy, rich, buttery and the perfect dessert for any occasion, a cookie swap or to pile onto a cookie tray for gift-giving.

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

* 3/4 cup white sugar

* 2/3 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

* 2 egg whites

* 1 1/4 cups crunchy peanut butter

* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 5 (2.1 ounce) Butterfinger candy bars, chopped (I used my food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites and beat well. Beat in the peanut butter and the vanilla, mixing until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chopped candy bars.

Using a medium cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) shape dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets (give plenty of space in between so they don't run into each other while baking).

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to not overbake them or they will get tough. Remove cookies from oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Cranberry-Orange Pinwheel Cookies

A soft pinwheel cookie that has a burst of festive color from the cranberry and pecan filling.

* 1 cup fresh cranberries

* 1 cup pecans

* 1/4 cup light brown sugar

* 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

* 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 2 large eggs

* 2 teaspoon orange zest

* 3 cups all purpose flour

In a food processor; add cranberries, pecans and brown sugar. Blend well until only small pieces remain. Set aside or cover and chill until needed.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add baking powder, salt, eggs and orange zest. Beat only low/medium for roughly 1 minute. Contents may be lumpy. Add flour by the spoonfuls, mixing on medium speed until ingredients have been mixed well. Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Divide dough in half. Place one half between two sheets of wax paper. Roll into a large rectangle roughly 1/4-inch thick. Remove top layer of wax paper. Evenly spread out half of the cranberry filling over dough to 1/2-inch from all sides. Begin rolling from one of the short ends. Dough may stick at first. Gently guide dough by pulling up on wax paper. Pinch to seal ends. Transfer rolled dough log to a clean sheet of waxed paper. Roll and tape shut. Place between two large drinking glasses. This will help prevent flat bottom logs.

Chill at least 24 hours. After several hours, gently roll log to check for any flat spots.

When ready to bake. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice 1/4-inch thick slices. Space 1 to 2 inches apart on a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are just turning golden. Let cookies rest on tray for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Store in a covered container for up to a week. Remaining dough may be frozen. Label well with any instructions such as type of dough, baking temp, time, etc. Yield: roughly 4 dozen cookies.

Cinnamon Pecan Butter Cookies

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 5 cups all purpose flour

* 3 3/4 cups sugar

* 2 tablespoons baking powder

* 2 teaspoons salt

* 2 tablespoons cinnamon

* 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)

* 2 eggs

* 2 tablespoons vanilla butter and nut flavoring

* 5-6 tablespoons milk

* 1 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives. Beat in eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir in pecans. Roll dough into 1-inch balls then roll balls in the cinnamon sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Let rest on sheet for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Homemade Lemonies

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 3/4 cup sugar

* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

* 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

* 2 large eggs, room temperature

* 1 tablespoon lemon zest

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Glaze:

* 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

* 1 teaspoon lemon zest

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9-inch baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, baking powder and salt until combined. Once combined, mix in melted butter, 1/4 cup lemon juice, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring until just incorporated. Pour batter into lined baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

While cooling, whisk together powdered sugar and remaining lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour glaze over cooled lemonies and top with lemon zest. Enjoy! 40 min to prepare; 25 min to cook; serves 12--16. Cut into small squares or cross-cut into diamond patterns.

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon, ground ginger

* 1/2 teaspoon, ground cloves

* 1/2 teaspoon, ground allspice

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1 cup brown sugar

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 2 large eggs

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 3 cups rolled oats

* 1 cup, jumbo raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt then set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition, then mix in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture, then use a wooden spoon to stir in the oats and raisins.

Drop by tablespoonful onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets, flatten slightly on top and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, being careful to not over bake.

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the trays before removing them to wire racks to cool completely.

Cranberry Chocolate Magic Bars

Cranberry chocolate magic bars are an amazingly easy and delicious treat that combines berries and chocolate for a fun twist on a classic dessert.

* 1/2 cup butter

* 1 1/2 cup quick oats

* 2 tablespoons brown sugar

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk

* 2/3 cup dried blueberries

* 2/3 cup dried cranberries

* 1 cup white chocolate chips

* 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Add the butter to a 9x13 pan and bake for 5 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from the oven and add the oatmeal, brown sugar and salt to the pan. Mix until well combined and press back into the pan. Bake an additional 5 minutes.

Top with the sweetened condensed milk, dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. Serves: 12

Coconut Cranberry Yummies

Bursting with tart cranberries and sweet coconut, these tasty bites are one of my favorite cookies for the Christmas season.

* 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

* 1 package (14 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut

* 1 cup white baking chips

* 1/4 cup ground almonds

* 1 teaspoon almond extract

* 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients; mix well. Stir in cranberries. Drop by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets; gently shape into mounds.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 3 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 5 dozen.

Classic Shortbread Cookies

These classic shortbread cookies are made with only takes 3 ingredients, mouthwatering, buttery and melt in your mouth delicious. A classic holiday cookie, made two ways!

* 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened at room temperature

* 1 cup (4.4 ounces) confectioner sugar or powdered sugar

* 3 cups (13.2 ounces )all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Add the butter to a large bowl and blend it until smooth using an electric mixer set at medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and combine thoroughly. Add flour and mix at low speed until well blended. The mixture will be crumbled and soft.

Pat dough into an ungreased cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, with the parchment paper hanging off the sides to make it easy to lift out the cookies. Or, alternatively you can roll out the dough so that it's about 1/4-inch in thickness, you can knead it a bit just so that the dough comes together, but don't overwork it, then cut into your desired shape.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just done (slightly golden in color). Do not let them get brown. Remove from the oven. If using a cookie sheet, lift out the cookies from the sheet using the parchment paper and cut into desired shapes. Finish cooling the cookies on a rack.

Notes: If using salted butter there's no need to add salt to the recipe, if you only have unsalted butter, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe.

This recipe will yield about 36 cookies.

To freeze, place shortbread cookies in an airtight container and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Cinnamon Blondies

* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

* 2 large eggs

* 1 tablespoon cinnamon

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Topping:

* 3 tablespoons sugar

* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and, optional, line a square baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar together until combined, then remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg, and set aside.

Once brown sugar butter mixture has cooled slightly, mix it into flour mixture, then beat in eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla extract.

After everything's been incorporated, pour mixture into (lined) baking sheet. Place baking dish in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.

For the topping: combine sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg, if using, in a small bowl.

Brush blondies with melted butter, then top with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Remove from baking dish, slice, serve and enjoy. 45 minutes to prepare serves 12-16

Chewy Coconut Cookies

* 1 1⁄4 cups flour

* 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1⁄4 teaspoon salt

* 1⁄2 cup butter

* 1⁄2 cup brown sugar

* 1⁄2 cup white sugar

* 1 egg

* 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

* 1 1⁄3 cups coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl cream butter and sugars together. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Combine the flour mixture with the sugar mixture. Add coconut. Drop onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, being careful not to overbake.

Times may vary due to differences in ovens.

You may top with a pecan half or sprinkles to make for a pretty, festive cookie.

Classic Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

* 1/2 cup peanut butter

* 1/2 cup butter

* 2 cups of granulated sugar

* 1/2 cup cold milk

* 1/4 cup cocoa powder

* 3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

* Sprinkles for added holiday color

Add butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder to a heavy bottomed pot, bring to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute while stirring. Take pot off the heat and mix in peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Use a spoon to scoop and drop oat mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. Immediately top with sprinkles or colored sugar, if desired. Let cool until firm.

As an added bonus, you can add 1/2 cup of coconut to the mixture before dropping onto the paper to cool.

Salted Caramel and Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies are a rich cookie rolled in pecans and filled with a decadent salted caramel frosting for a sweet dessert that is perfect for the holidays! This is a small batch, so you may choose to double the recipe while making. This same recipe can be filled with seedless red raspberry jelly in place of the caramel topping, for a nice seasonal change or variation.

Cookies:

* 1/4 cup shortening

* 1/4 cup butter or margarine

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1/4 cup brown sugar

* 1 cup all purpose flour

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 egg separated

* 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Frosting:

* 2/3 cup caramels, melted

* 1/3 cup whipping cream

* 2 cup powdered sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

* 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix shortening, butter, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth. Blend flour and salt into the mixture. Roll into 1-inch balls, dip balls into slightly beaten egg white, then roll into chopped pecans. Arrange on a lined cookie sheet and indent the middle of each cookie gently with your thumb. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven, use your thumb to reinforce the indent in each cookie. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, melt the caramels in the microwave or over a double boiler. Mix the caramels with the whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and sea salt. Mix until smooth.

Top each thumbprint with icing and store in an airtight container.

Freeze any extras the same day for the freshest cookies. Yoelds: 1 dozen

*Recipe doubles and triples well for larger batches.

Frosted Cranberry Drop Cookies

The icing is an ideal complement to the tart berries in these cookies. As always, a light sprinkling of colored sugar is an added touch.

* 1/2 cup butter, softened

* 1 cup sugar

* 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

* 1/4 cup whole milk

* 1 large egg

* 2 tablespoons orange juice

* 3 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 2-1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

* 1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:

* 1/3 cup butter

* 2 cups confectioners' sugar

* 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 2 to 4 tablespoons hot water

In a bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add milk, egg and orange juice; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in cranberries and nuts.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

For frosting, heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes; transfer to a small bowl. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency. Frost the cookies. Yield: about 5 dozen.

Perfect Soft And Chewy Gingersnap Cookies

* 3 cups flour

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

* 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves

* 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

* 1 1/4 cups butter, softened

* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

* 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses

* 2 eggs

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Snickerdoodle Coating:

* 1/3 cup granulated sugar

* 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger until well blended.

In a stand or hand held mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add molasses, eggs and vanilla and beat an additional minute. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes.

Mix Snickerdoodle Coating of 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a large bowl. Roll dough into balls using 1 heaping tablespoon dough then roll in Snickerdoodle Coating until evenly coated. Place balls 3 inches apart on a nonstick mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes on middle rack of oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. If you like a crispier cookie, simply bake longer. Yields: 3 dozen

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

These peppermint shortbread cookies are little bites of Christmas-y heaven. Melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies are studded with candy pieces then coated with powdered sugar.

* 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

* 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided

* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 cup Andes brand Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment.

In large mixing bowl, with electric mixer, combine the butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 - 5 minutes. Add in flour and salt and mix until combined. Stir in chips.

You can chill the dough for about an hour, if you want a more ball-like shape to the cookies, or you can just go ahead and portion into 1-inch balls without chilling. If you don't chill the dough, your cookies will be flatter.

Place the cookies about an 1 1/2-inches apart on the prepared cookies sheets, as they will not spread much. Bake in preheated oven for 9 -10 min, or until set, watching carefully so bottoms do not burn.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet without removing them for about 10 minutes so they don't fall apart.

While still warm "roll" in 1 cup powdered sugar and place on wire rack to cool completely. Yields: 3 dozen cookies

Santa Claus Cookies

An extra special brownie-like cookie for Santa that is filled with chocolate chips and M&Ms on the inside and outside.

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1 cup white sugar

* 1 cup brown sugar

* 2 eggs

* 2 teaspoons vanilla

* 1 1/2 cups flour

* 1 cup cocoa

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 cup each white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chip and red and green M&Ms, plus extra for decorating

Cream butter and sugars together. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add to the creamed mixture. Carefully stir in chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving 2-inches between cookies. Top each with two semi-sweet chocolate chips and one green and one red M&M. Don't add the white as they will brown. Bake for 13-14 minutes. Do not overbake. The cookies will harden when cooled. Add two or three white chocolate chips when cookies come out of the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes on the tray then remove to cooling racks. Yields: 48

Buttered Rum Snickerdoodles

These cookies are a classic cookie kicked up a notch with the festive flavor of buttered rum. They're bound to become your new favorite cookie.

* 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

* 2 large eggs, room temperature

* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* 1 - 2 teaspoon rum extract (depending on how much rum flavor you like)

* 1 teaspoon butter flavored extract

* 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

* 2 tablespoon granulated sugar

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl, with electric mixer, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add in all the flavorings and combine well.

In separate med bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until dough comes together.

In small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. With cookie scoop, portion out dough and roll into balls. Roll balls in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on cookie sheet, spacing about 2-inches apart.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 - 2 minutes on cookie sheets, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container once completely cooled. Yields: 4 dozen

Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms

* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

* 1/4 cup granulated sugar

* 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

* 1 large egg, at room temperature

* 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* 24 chocolate kiss candies, unwrapped

* 1/2 cup white sugar OR 1/4 cup green sugar and 1/4 cup red sugar

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on high speed until creamy. On medium-high speed, beat in 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the 1/2 cup of brown sugar until completely creamed and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix on high until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Cover and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator (and up to 1 day). If chilling for longer than a few hours, though, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard and the cookies may not spread much.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside. Also, make sure there is room in your freezer because they will later need to be placed inside to prevent the Kisses from melting on the warm cookies.

Scoop and roll cookie dough, about 1 tablespoon of dough each. Roll each ball in the remaining 1/2 cup of white sugar or the red and green colored sugar, and arrange on the baking sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops begin to slightly crack. Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Press a chocolate kiss candy into each cookie on 1 of the baking sheets until it sticks. Place the baking sheet in the freezer so the chocolate does not melt. Remove after 10 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with 2nd baking sheet of cookies.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 4. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw.

Notes: You'll only need 1/4 cup of granulated sugar for the cookie dough and the other 1/2 cup will be for coating in step 5. Or you can use sanding sugar to coat the cookies instead, noted as optional in the ingredient list. If using sanding sugar, you do not need the extra 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. yield: 24 cookies

Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies

Soft and sweet, with plenty of pumpkin flavor and loads of pumpkin pie spice. You can add dried cranberries to the mixture if you desire.

* 2 to 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 3/4 teaspoon salt

* 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

* 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

* 1/2 cup granulated sugar

* 3 large eggs room temperature

* 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

* 2/3 cup granulated sugar for rolling

* 1 cup powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth. Add the butter and whisk until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture just until no dry ingredients remain visible. Set the cookie dough aside for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, place the 2/3 cup granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Place the powdered sugar in a separate shallow bowl.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop 1 heaping scoop (about 1 tablespoon) of cookie dough directly into the bowl with the granulated sugar. The dough is super soft so it won't be like other sturdy cookie dough balls. Scoop some of the granulated sugar over the dough and gently push it around the bowl until covered. Place the sugared dough ball in the palm of your hand. Form your hand into a cup and gently roll the dough around until it forms a ball. Place the ball of cookie dough in the powdered sugar and roll to coat. Place the dough balls on the parchment lined baking sheets, at least 2-inches apart. Work quickly to roll all the dough balls -- there should be about 12 cookies on each pan. Once you have one pan filled, go ahead and bake and keep rolling and forming more cookies. Work as quickly as you can to get them all ready to go.

Bake for 14 minutes or until the cookies are puffy, and cracks have formed. The cookies will still be soft and look a little raw in-between the cracks. Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: Read all the directions before starting this recipe. The dough is very soft but should form a small ball/mound once rolled in the sugar. Use a small cookie scoop - size 60 (1 1/2 inches wide).

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. Recipe makes approximately 36-40 cookies

If you feel the cookie dough will not hold a soft mounded shape, please add 1/4 cup more flour. Handle it gently as it doesn't roll up like typical cookie dough.

French Vanilla Peppermint Bark Cookies

* 1 3/4 cups French Vanilla cake mix (about half the box of mix)

* 1/4 cup canola oil

* 1 egg

* 12 Hershey Peppermint Bark Bells

* Christmas colored sprinkles (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cake mix, canola oil, and egg. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes.

While the cookies are baking, unwrap the Hershey's Peppermint Bark Bells.

Remove from the oven, and immediately top each cookie with a Peppermint Bark Bell. Pop back into the oven for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Take back out of the oven and immediately spread the melted Bells over top of each cookie like a frosting. Sprinkle with additional Christmas sprinkles, if desired.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely and the chocolate to harden. Yields 1 dozen cookies.

Vanilla Butter Meltaway Cookie

Don't these look simple and delicious? These are a cookie that you must add to your baking list this holiday season.

* 1 cup unsalted butter

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 egg

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 2 cups flour

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla to the sugar mixture. Add the flour, salt, soda and powder and combine well. Create 1-inch cookie balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with Silpat. Flatten the cookies using the bottom of a glass and bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Pull the cookies out when they appear to not be cooked completely, they will continue to cook on the pan.

Make Ahead Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry Cookies

These pretty pink cookies always turn out so tender. They are the hit of my holiday!

* 1 cup shortening

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 large egg

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

* 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

* 2 tablespoons shortening

* 1-1/4 cups chopped pecans, optional

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Using paper towels, pat chopped cranberries dry; stir into dough.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets; cover and freeze until firm. Transfer cookie dough balls to a large resealable plastic freezer bag. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

To use frozen cookie dough: Place 2-inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into chocolate mixture; sprinkle chocolate with chopped pecans if desired. Place on waxed paper until set. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Notes: To prepare cookies without freezing, drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2-inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

If you want a brighter pink color, don't pat the cranberries too much. A little moisture is fine and will give you a nice pink swirl in the cookie batter.

Buttery Spritz Cookies

These tender little cookies are very eye-catching on any Christmas cookie tray. The dough is easy to work with, so it's fun to make these into a variety of festive shapes.

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 large egg

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze:

* 1 cup confectioners' sugar

* 2 to 3 tablespoons water

* Colored sugar and sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter, confectioners' sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Gradually beat flour into creamed mixture.

Using a cookie press fitted with a disk of your choice, press dough 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 6-8 minutes or until just set (do not brown!). Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar and enough water to reach desired consistency. Dip cookies in glaze; decorate as desired. Let stand until set. Yield: about 7-1/2 dozen.

Note: Melted chocolate candy coating may be used in place of confectioners' sugar glaze; dip and decorate as directed.

Chocolate-Strawberry Pretzel Cookies

* 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 2 large eggs

* 1 1/2 cups finely ground pretzels (about 6 ounces)

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

* 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam

* Confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mix ground pretzels, flour and baking powder; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3-1/2-inch tree-shaped cookie cutter. Using a floured 1-3/4-inch tree-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the centers of half of the cookies. Place solid and window cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Spread melted chocolate onto bottoms of solid cookies; let stand until firm. Spread jam over cooled chocolate; top with window cookies. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar.

Freeze option: Freeze undecorated cookies in freezer containers. To use, thaw in covered containers and decorate as directed. Yield: about 1 dozen.

Caramel-Topped Gingersnaps

This recipe starts with a store bought gingersnap cookie and then you dress it up with a rich, gooey caramel and nut topping.

* 42 gingersnap cookies

* 1 package (14 ounces) caramels

* 1/4 cup 2 percent milk or heavy whipping cream

* 1 cup chopped honey-roasted peanuts

* 12 ounces white or dark chocolate candy coating, melted

* Chocolate jimmies or finely chopped honey-roasted peanuts

Arrange cookies in a single layer on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. In a microwave, melt caramels with milk; stir until smooth. Stir in 1 cup chopped peanuts. Spoon about 1 teaspoon caramel mixture over each cookie; refrigerate until set.

Dip each cookie halfway into candy coating; allow excess to drip off. Return to baking sheet; sprinkle with jimmies. Refrigerate until set. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Cherry Almond Snowdrops

This cookie is nice because you can freeze the dough, so they're perfect for the busy holidays.

* 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

* 3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, divided

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 cup cold butter, cubed

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

* 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

* 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cake flour, 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse until blended. Add butter and extracts; pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add cherries and almonds; pulse until combined (dough will be crumbly).

Shape dough into 1-inch balls, pressing firmly to adhere; place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool on pans 10 minutes. Roll warm cookies in remaining confectioners' sugar. Cool on wire racks. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Note: To toast nuts, place in a dry skillet and heat over low heat until lightly browned and aromatic, stirring occasionally.

Lemon Snowdrops

These cookies are a crunchy, buttery sandwich cookie with a puckery lemon filling. Perfect for anytime of the year. Dust with powdered sugar when finished or sprinkle with white or yellow sugar before baking for added sparkle.

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon lemon extract

* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* Granulated sugar

For the filling:

* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

* 2/3 cup granulated sugar

* 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

* 3 tablespoons lemon juice

* 4 teaspoons butter

* Additional confectioners' sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, confectioners' sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Gradually beat in flour. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into balls (if necessary, refrigerate dough, covered, until firm enough to shape). Place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets; flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar. Bake until light brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For filling, whisk together egg, granulated sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until blended. Add butter; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and a thermometer reads at least 170 degrees, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat immediately (do not allow to boil). Transfer to a small bowl; cool. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of filling. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

To serve, spread lemon filling on half of the cookies; cover with remaining cookies. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Freeze option: Freeze unfilled, undecorated cookies in freezer containers. To use, thaw cookies in covered containers. Fill and decorate as directed. Yield: 2 dozen.

Lime Christmas Tree Cookies

These lime Christmas tree cookies will brighten your holiday cookie tray. This recipe is a tangy frosted tree, flecked with pistachios and flavored with lime juice and vanilla. The festive treats are almost too pretty to eat.

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 2 teaspoons grated lime peel

* 1/4 cup lime juice

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

* 10 to 12 drops green food coloring

* 3/4 cup finely chopped pistachios

For the icing:

* 3 3/4 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar

* 5 to 6 tablespoons warm water

* 3 tablespoons meringue powder

* Green food coloring, optional

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lime peel, lime juice and vanilla. Gradually add flour and mix well. Beat in food coloring. Stir in pistachios. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-inch tree-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, water and meringue powder; beat on low speed just until blended. Beat on high 4-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Divide in half; if desired, tint one portion green. Keep unused icing covered at all times with a damp cloth. If necessary, beat again on high speed to restore texture.

Frost and decorate cookies as desired. Let stand at room temperature several hours or until frosting is dry and firm. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 4 dozen.

No-Bake Christmas Wreath Treats

Cornflakes take the place of traditional rice cereal in these sweet no-bake treats. Dressed up with green food coloring and red candies, they're a fun addition to cookie platters and dessert buffets.

* 20 large marshmallows

* 2 tablespoons butter

* Green food coloring

* 3 cups cornflakes

* Red M&M's minis (about 2 tablespoons)

Place marshmallows and butter in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave, uncovered, on high until butter is melted and marshmallows are puffed, about 45 seconds. Tint green with food coloring. Stir in cornflakes.

On a waxed paper-lined baking sheet, divide mixture into eight portions. Working quickly, shape each into a 3-inch wreath using buttered hands. Decorate immediately with red M&M mini, pressing to adhere. Let stand until set. Yield: 8 servings.

Apricot Pinwheels

You can decorate these little spirals with vanilla icing, but they're yummy without it, too. Dried apricots and lots of spice give the cookies Old World flavor.

* 1 cup chopped dried apricots

* 3/4 cup water

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1 cup finely chopped pecans

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 2 cups packed brown sugar

* 2 large eggs

* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

* 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves For the icing:

* 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

* 6 tablespoons butter, softened

* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk

In a small saucepan, combine apricots, water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer to a blender; cover and process until pureed. Stir in pecans; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Divide dough into two portions. On a baking sheet, roll out each portion between two sheets of waxed paper into a 15x9-inch rectangle. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Remove waxed paper. Spread half of the apricot mixture over one portion. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; wrap in plastic. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

Unwrap and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Pipe onto cookies. Let stand until set.

To Make Ahead: Dough can be made 2 days in advance. Wrap logs in plastic and place in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator.

Freeze option: Place wrapped logs in resealable plastic freezer bags and freeze. To use, unwrap frozen logs and cut into slices. Bake as directed. Yield: 8 dozen.

Date Pinwheels

This is a great recipe for a delicious cookie to serve at the end of any meal. The dates have such a wonderful flavor and are not overly sweet.

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 2 cups packed brown sugar

* 3 eggs

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 4 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:

* 2 1/2 cups chopped dates

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 cup water

* 1 cup finely chopped pecans

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide into four portions. Refrigerate until chilled.

In a large saucepan, bring the dates, sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in pecans.

On a baking sheet, roll out each portion of dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove waxed paper; spread with date mixture. Tightly roll up each portion jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Unwrap and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months. Yield: 16 dozen.

Cranberry-Orange Icebox Cookies

These cookies may become a favorite cookie this Christmas. The cranberry-orange flavor makes them special for the holidays. Not only are they delicious, they look very pretty on a cookie tray or boxed up for a gift.

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 large egg

* 2 tablespoons 2% milk

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 3 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

* 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

* 2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries

* 1/4 cup chopped pecans

* 8 to 10 drops red food coloring, optional

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Transfer 1 cup dough to a small bowl; stir in orange peel and set aside. Add the cranberries, pecans and, if desired, food coloring; divide in half.

Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Press one portion of cranberry dough evenly into pan; top with orange dough, then remaining cranberry dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Remove dough from pan; cut in half lengthwise. Cut each portion into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 5 dozen.

Double Chocolate Snowball Cookies

These Double Chocolate Snowball Cookies are a nice version of classic Russian Teacake cookies. They're full of rich cocoa powder and chocolate chips rolled in cool, white powdered sugar.

* 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

* 1/2 cup powdered sugar

* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Special Dark, use your favorite)

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

* 2 1/4 cups flour

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

* Additional powdered sugar, for rolling (about 1 -- 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips. If dough is too soft, chill it until you can work it easily with your hands.

Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown and the tops are no longer glossy. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes, until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with 1 cup powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack to cool. Once cookies are cooled, you may want to re-roll them in more powdered sugar.

Note: You can use either regular unsweetened cocoa powder (any brand) or Hershey's Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa, which is delicious.

Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

This is the perfect sugar cookie for Thanksgiving. Sweet, spicy and soft!

* 1/2 cup softened butter

* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

* 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)

* 1 cup granulated sugar

* 1/2 cup powdered sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

* 2 large eggs

* 4 cups all purpose flour

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

* Pinch of cloves

For the glaze

* 3 cups powdered sugar

* 4 tablespoons water

* 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and set aside. In a large bowl, stir butter, oil, pumpkin, sugars, vanilla and eggs together until incorporated and smooth. Slowly mix in all dry ingredients until completely incorporated. Scoop onto prepared baking sheet using 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop and flatten to 1/2 inch thick using the bottom of a glass. If the dough is sticking to the glass, press the bottom of the glass in granulated sugar before flattening. Bake 8-9 minutes.

While cookies bake, stir all ingredients together for glaze until smooth. Once cookies are finished baking, cool 3 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons glaze over each warm cookie. Let glaze harden 2-3 hours before serving or eat them warm with lots of runny glaze. Yield: 3-4 dozen.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

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