Most everyone we know decides to indulge in holiday sweets this time of year.  Once Thanksgiving rolls around, we generally throw caution to the wind and accept the inevitable waistline expansion that will occur between then and the new year.  It’s cookie season… time to go big or go home!

I love to bake Christmas cookies, and this time of the year, my kitchen is in overdrive!

Holidays = Excess

I don’t know about everyone else, but the volume of desserts coming out of my kitchen in the month of December is greater than the other eleven months combined.  They are all tried and true favorites among family and friends and include desserts, cookies and fudge.  Today we’re going to focus on cookies.  And there is nothing healthy about any of them.  I don’t even try to substitute ingredients to reduce calories and/or fat.  We generally eat healthy, but when the holidays come, all bets are off!

Cookies

I make a combination of cookies from my childhood and others collected over the years.  Combining ingredients, baking, plating and eating certain cookies is like a throwback to being in the house I grew up in with my family, enjoying sweet treats and family traditions.  All recipes are available in printable format at the bottom of this post.

Peanut Blossoms are one of my all-time favorites.  They are the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey Kiss on them and I think they are the perfect blend of peanut butter and chocolate.  I like to roll them in sugar before baking.

Peanut Blossom Cookies

Another family favorite is Thumbprints.  The dough is a rich, shortbread-tasting recipe and they are rolled in chopped nuts prior to baking.  You roll them into balls, then in egg whites and then in nuts.  After you place them on the cookie sheet, you make a dent in the middle with your thumb (hence the name).  Once they are baked and cooled, you can fill the imprint with jam or buttercream frosting.

Thumbprint Cookies Buttercream Frosting Jam
Thumbprint Cookies

Fancy Up the Frosting

To make the filling look a little fancy, I use a Wilton disposable bag and a decorating tip from my Williams Sonoma kit.  You can use the dispenser in the kit, but I like the bags because you can just throw them away when you’re done, reducing cleanup!

 

Wilton Decorating
Wilton Disposable Decorating Bags
icing decorating tip
Decorating tip for icing with a little design
Williams Sonoma Decorating Kit

Bars are Easy, Versatile and Yummy

My kids love Seven-Layer Bars.  They are super easy to make and you can mix it up to vary the flavors.  Sometimes I add dried cherries and sometimes I use white chocolate in addition to or in place of butterscotch.  We usually leave out the nuts… the beauty of this recipe is you can add or leave out whatever you prefer, as it’s very forgiving!

Seven Layer Bars

 

Traditions Old and New

I love making old favorites as well as trying new ones.  A cookie exchange is a great way to share your family’s favorites and sample favorites of your friends.  Assemble a group of friends and you may find a few new cookies that become some of your long-time family favorites!

Best wishes this holiday season!  Cheers!

Print Recipe
Peanut Blossoms
A delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate, these favorites are topped with a Hershey Kiss.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Recipe Notes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.  Cream shortening and peanut butter.  Gradually add sugar and brown sugar.  Add unbeaten egg, milk and vanilla.

Blend in dry ingredients.  Shape dough into teaspoon-sized balls.  Roll in granulated sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for eight minutes.  Remove from oven; press one Hershey Kiss into the middle of each cookie.  Cookie will look like it's cracking... it's supposed to look that way!  Return to oven for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from oven; cool for a few minutes and then move to rack to fully cool.

Print Recipe
Thumbprint Cookies
Thumbprint Cookies Buttercream Frosting Jam
Servings
Servings
Thumbprint Cookies Buttercream Frosting Jam
Recipe Notes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.  In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt.

Gradually stir in flour.  Form dough into 1-inch diameter balls.  Dip in lightly beaten egg whites, then roll in nuts.  Place one inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Press down center of each with thumb.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheet for five minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Fill centers with frosting or jam.

Print Recipe
Buttercream Frosting
Recipe Notes

Cream butter until light yellow and fluffy, 7-8 minutes.  Add powdered sugar slowly, one large spoonful at a time, until well blended after each addition. Add vanilla and heavy cream and beat until smooth.

Print Recipe
Seven Layer Cookies AKA Magic Cookie Bars
Recipe Notes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter.  Combine with graham crackers in bottom of 13" x 9" pan to form crust.  Mix and press into pan.

Top with coconut, semi-sweet chips, butterscotch chips and nuts (spread evenly).

Pour sweetened condensed milk over top, trying to distribute evenly.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Cool completely and slice into squares.

 

For other favorite recipes, please see:

What are your thoughts?

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