Revisiting favorite Christmas-cookie recipes

We've rounded up readers' favorite Christmas-cookie recipes from years past. And we threw in a few of ours, too. After all, Santa won't stop unless he gets a batch of Peppermint Wands.

BRICKLE (2002)

Makes at least 3 dozen pieces

60 or more saltine crackers

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

Chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover large jellyroll pan (about 13 by 15 inches) with foil. Coat lightly with nonstick spray. Place saltine crackers in single layer on foil.

In saucepan on stove, melt butter and brown sugar over low heat. Bring to full boil and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove and pour over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Leave until melted. Spread out the chocolate and sprinkle with nuts.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Break into pieces.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Freezeworthy: No.

-- Submitted by Judith L. McVaugh, Beverly Hills, Fla., and Carol Latta Milner, Seminole, Fla.

PISTACHIO AND CHERRY SNOWBALLS (2008)

Makes 5 dozen

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for coating

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shelled, unsalted natural pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)

3-1/3 cups sifted cake flour

1-2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Beat butter and confectioners' sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt, then pistachios and cherries. Using spatula, mix in both flours; do not overmix. Shape dough by generous tablespoons into football-shaped ovals. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until bottoms just begin to brown, about 12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Pour generous amount of confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Add a few warm cookies at a time and gently turn to coat thickly. Transfer to cooling rack or waxed paper. Repeat to coat cookies with sugar again. Cool completely.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Kathy Hocker, Spring Hill, Fla.

LUCY'S APRICOT BARS (2006)

Makes about 35 bars

1-1/4 cups quick oats

2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (18-ounce) jar apricot jam

Blend all ingredients, except jam, to crumblike consistency. Reserve 1-1/2 cups for topping and press remainder into ungreased 9- by 13-inch pan.

Spoon apricot jam over crumb crust and top with reserved crumbs. Place in preheated 350-degree oven for 35 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Freezeworthy: So-so results; jam may get runny when thawed.

-- Submitted by Alexandra Hemming, Belleair, Fla.

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CHOCOLATE WALNUT PUFFS (2009)

Makes about 3 dozen

1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla and vinegar. Fold in melted chocolate and walnuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from sheets immediately.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Florence Tirabassi, Kenneth City, Fla.

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TOFFEE SQUARES (2005)

Makes about 54 squares

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 15- by 10-inch jellyroll pan with foil. In a medium bowl, beat together butter or margarine, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour, beating until well blended. Spread mixture evenly in foil-lined pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden.

Sprinkle chocolate pieces evenly over cookie surface. Bake 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate melts. Remove from oven and let stand 1 minute. With a knife, spread melted chocolate evenly over top.

Sprinkle with walnuts. While warm, cut into squares. Cool in pan. Store in refrigerator, if desired.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Natalie Haughton, Los Angeles Daily News

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NUT-RIBBON STRIPS (2004)

Makes 5 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Confectioners' sugar

Cream butter, sugar and almond extract. Add egg. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and combine. Chill dough 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On floured board, roll dough into rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Press in lightly with rolling pin. Cut dough into strips, about 1 inch wide and 2-1/2 inches long. Place strips on greased cookie sheet and press tops with fork.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first. You might want to sprinkle with confectioners' sugar again after thawing.

-- Submitted by Carol J. Hoover, St. Petersburg, Fla.

CREME DE MENTHE CHOCOLATE SQUARES (2008)

Makes 20 to 25 squares

Brownies layer:

1 cup granulated sugar

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

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup

Creme de menthe layer:

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons creme de menthe liqueur

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate glaze layer:

6 ounces semisweet mini-chocolate chips

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Add beaten eggs and blend well. Add flour and salt; mix well. Blend in vanilla and chocolate syrup. Pour batter into a greased 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan.

For creme de menthe layer, mix confectioners' sugar, creme de menthe and butter, then pour over cooled brownies.

For chocolate glaze layer, melt chocolate chips and butter together until smooth. Cool mixture for 3 minutes, then spread over mint layer. Chill until ready to serve, and then cut into small squares.

Freezeworthy: No. The added moisture from thawing will turn the bars to goo.

-- Submitted by Sue E. Conrad, South Pasadena, Fla., and Margie Sambets, Dunedin, Fla.

ICED CRANBERRY-WHITE CHOCOLATE DROPS (2007)

Makes 4 dozen

1-2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 large egg

2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1-1/2 cups chopped dried sweetened cranberries

1-1/2 cups white chocolate morsels

1/2 cup chopped cranberries

Icing:

1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 to 4 teaspoons warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking pans or use parchment paper.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In mixing bowl, beat butter several minutes until light. Add brown sugar and orange zest. Add egg and vanilla extract. Beat for 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in increments, until smoothly incorporated. Add pecans, dried cranberries, white chocolate morsels and chopped cranberries, stirring until evenly distributed.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, spaced about 2-1/2 inches apart, onto the baking sheets. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool cookies on the sheet for about 3 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack. Cookies will be very tender. Cool completely.

For the icing: In medium bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract with enough water to yield a slightly runny icing. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with fine tip, or use a spoon to immediately drizzle the icing in very fine lines over the cookies until they are lightly decorated. Let them stand until icing sets, at least 1 hour.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Elaine Patenaude, Tarpon Springs, Fla.

MEXICAN HOT-CHOCOLATE BALLS (2009)

Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, divided use

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided use

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided use

1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and vanilla until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer; stir in the remaining flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and pecans.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely.

Combine remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll cooled cookies in the sugar mixture.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Linda Spurgus, New Port Richey, Fla.

MOCHA TRUFFLE COOKIES (2006)

Makes 3-1/2 dozen

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided use

1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter or margarine and the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in coffee crystals; cool 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Stir into coffee mixture. Stir in the cup of chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Let cool 1 minute on cookie sheet. Remove and cool on wire racks.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Gayle Hackbarth, Summerfield, Fla.

WHITE CHOCOLATE-ORANGE DREAM COOKIES (2009)

Makes 3-1/2 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

2 teaspoons orange extract

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups white chocolate morsels

Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, orange rind and extract, beating until blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to first mixture, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in white chocolate morsels. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake cookies in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Gayle Hackbarth, Summerfield, Fla.

LICORICE SNAPS (2009)

Makes 3 to 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon anise seeds

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg; beat until blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon; add to creamed mixture. Stir in anise seeds and pecans.

Divide dough in half and shape into two 10-inch logs. Wrap in wax paper and chill for at least 1 hour, preferably 2. Cut into 1/4-inch slices and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Patricia Kucera, Seminole, Fla.

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PEANUT BUTTER AND JAM BARS (2008)

Makes about 35 bars

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

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

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup raspberry jam

Glaze:

2 tablespoons margarine

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons hot water

Cream sugars, butter, peanut butter and egg. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder, and mix well. Reserve 1 cup dough. Press remaining dough into ungreased 9- by 13-inch pan. Spread with jam, then crumble reserved dough and sprinkle over jam. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Cool while preparing glaze.

To make the glaze, heat margarine over low heat. Mix in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat in hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, till smooth. Drizzle glaze over top and cut into 2- by 1-1/2-inch bars.

Freezeworthy: No.

-- Submitted by Dolores A. Haase, Clearwater, Fla.

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SANTA'S WHISKERS (2005)

Makes about 6 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped red and/or green candied cherries

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

3/4 cup flaked coconut

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add milk and vanilla and beat well.

Add flour and beat until well mixed. Stir in cherries and pecans. Divide dough into thirds. Shape each portion into a 7-inch-long log. Roll each log in 1/4 cup of the coconut to coat. Wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies on wire rack.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Kathryn Rem, food editor, State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.

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CANDY CANE PUFFS (2005)

Makes 4 dozen

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

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

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces white chocolate baking pieces, melted

1/2 cup finely chopped candy canes

Stir together flour and salt in medium-sized bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg. Beat in peppermint extract and vanilla.

On low speed, beat in flour mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned; cookie tops will not be brown at all. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Brush melted white chocolate on top and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Freezeworthy: These are better eaten soon after being made. Freezing isn't recommended.

-- Submitted by Peggy Katalinich, food editor, Family Circle magazine

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DIPPED GINGERSNAPS (2008)

Makes 3 to 4 dozen

2 cups sugar

1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Additional sugar for rolling

For dipping:

2 (12-ounce) packages white chocolate chips

1/4 cup shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in molasses. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Shape into 3/4-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cool.

Melt chips and shortening in microwaveable bowl. Dip cookies halfway and place on waxed paper to harden.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but let melted chocolate harden first.

-- Submitted by Janet Starr, St. Petersburg, Fla.

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PEPPERMINT WANDS (2004)

Makes about 7 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For coating:

4 ounces German sweet chocolate, melted

10 red and white peppermints (or candy canes), crushed, or finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside. Beat butter and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, beat in flour mixture until combined. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Roll 1 teaspoon of dough into a log, about 2-1/2 inches long. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing cookies 1-1/2 inches apart.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until very pale golden at edges. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool.

For coating: When cookies are cool, dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate. Return to wire rack. Sprinkle each dipped end with 1/4 teaspoon crushed peppermints or finely chopped nuts. Cool on racks in refrigerator for 20 minutes to set. Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

Freezeworthy: Yes, and they are even delicious frozen!

-- Submitted by Marion Haupt, Zephyrhills, Fla.

CHOCO-COCO PECAN CRISPS (2007)

Makes about 3 dozen

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

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup flaked coconut

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, pecans, cocoa and baking soda in small bowl and mix. Add to creamed butter mixture, blending until stiff dough is formed.

Sprinkle coconut on work surface. Divide dough into four parts. Shape each into a roll about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, then roll in coconut until thickly coated. Wrap rolls in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 weeks. You can wrap in foil and freeze up to 6 weeks.

Slice cookies 1/4-inch thick and bake in preheated 350-degree oven on ungreased cookie sheets for 10 to 12 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Laura Peterson, Homosassa, Fla.

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POTATO CHIP-PECAN CRUNCH COOKIES (2004)

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup crushed potato chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add potato chips and pecans. Stir in flour. Form into small balls, using 1 tablespoon dough for each.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press balls flat with bottom of a tumbler dipped in sugar.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned.

Testing notes: These are tasty and versatile. We added some minced dried rosemary to the last batch to create a savory cracker that would be lovely served with wine.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Helen Gross, Dunedin, Fla., with similar recipes from Dolores Corneau, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Carol Swanson, Hudson, Fla.

GUMDROP BARS (2007)

Makes 16 squares or 18 bars

1/2 cup flavored gumdrops, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1 cup plus 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons evaporated milk

Frosting, canned or homemade

Stir gumdrop pieces with nuts and 1-1/2 teaspoons flour to coat. Set aside.

Sift together 1 cup of flour, salt and cinnamon. To this, add the brown sugar, eggs and evaporated milk, and mix well.

Add gumdrop mixture and beat well until incorporated. (Batter will be thick.) Spread the batter into a well-greased 9- by 9-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 35 minutes.

Cool. Ice with vanilla or orange frosting. Cut into 3- by 1-inch squares and decorate with additional whole gumdrops.

Freezeworthy: No.

-- Submitted by John Pacheco, St. Petersburg, Fla.

 

ORANGE-CHOCOLATE ROUNDS (2002)

Makes about 5 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

Divide dough in half. Stir orange peel into one dough half; stir melted chocolate into the other. If necessary, cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

Shape each half of dough into a 10-inch-long log. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill for 2 hours or until firm.

Cut each chilled roll lengthwise into quarters; reassemble rolls, alternating chocolate and orange quarters. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- From "Cookies for Christmas" by Jennifer Dorland Darling (Meredith Books, 2001)

CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO FINGERS (2010)

Makes about 4 dozen

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) almond paste

1 egg yolk

1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup finely chopped natural pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl until blended. Add almond paste and egg yolk; beat until light. Blend in flour to make a smooth dough (if dough is too soft to handle, cover and refrigerate until firm). Turn out onto lightly floured board. Pull off 1- to 2-teaspoon pieces and roll into a finger shape. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Melt chips in small bowl over hot water. Stir until smooth. Dip both ends of cookies about 1/2 inch into melted chocolate, then dip the chocolate ends into pistachios. Place on waxed paper and let stand until chocolate is set.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Gail Sloan, Tampa, Fla.

TUSCAN ROSEMARY AND PINE NUT BARS (2003)

Makes 16 squares or 18 bars

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread pine nuts on baking sheet and toast in oven, stirring once or twice to prevent burning, until they are a shade darker, about 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to prevent further browning and set aside.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat and stir in sugar, rosemary, salt and pine nuts. Combine until sugar is dissolved. Stir in flour to make a stiff dough.

Spread the dough evenly into an ungreased 8-inch-square baking pan. Bake about 20 minutes until the dough is golden around the edges and firm in the center. Cool pan on a rack for a few minutes, then cut dough into bars or squares. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- From "Short & Sweet: Sophisticated Desserts in No Time at All" by Melanie Barnard (Houghton Mifflin, 1999)

HOLIDAY CHOCOLATE BON BON COOKIES (2004)

Makes 4 dozen

1 package (6 squares) white baking chocolate

1-1/2 packages (12 squares) semisweet baking chocolate

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop each white chocolate square into 8 chunks; set aside.

Microwave semisweet chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 minutes, or until butter is melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Blend in milk and vanilla. Add flour and walnuts; mix well (dough will be stiff).

Shape 1 level tablespoonful of dough around each white chocolate chunk, enclosing white chocolate completely. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until soft and shiny (cookies will firm as they cool). Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

-- Submitted by Linda Siedle, Palm Harbor, Fla.

RASPBERRY-ALMOND BARS (2004)

Makes about 2 dozen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 (10- to 12-ounce) package white chocolate chips, divided use

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/4 cup sliced almonds

In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from the heat and add 1 cup chips.

In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy; gradually add sugar.

Stir in chip mixture and almond extract. Combine flour and salt; add to egg mixture and mix just until combined. Spread half the batter in a greased 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt jam; spread over warm crust.

Stir remaining chips into the remaining batter; drop by teaspoonfuls over the jam layer. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 30 to 35 minutes longer or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely and cut first.

-- Submitted by Ruth M. Dauper, St. Petersburg, Fla.

(St. Petersburg Times food and travel editor Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler(at)sptimes.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service www.scrippsnews.com)

from St. Petersburg Times
 

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