My love of baking started when I helped my Mother bake cookies at Christmas time. Since then I’ve never stopped baking cookies for Christmas. Baking isn’t very hard and I am always amazed when I hear people say I don’t like to bake. What’s not to like, sugar, butter, chocolate, all those wonderful ingredients in one place. Baking is very precise, you need to measure the correct amount of ingredients and follow the recipe especially if you’re a beginner. Once you get some experience with baking you can add your personality. Christmas cookies make wonderful personal gifts to share with family and friends. And so many beautiful boxes, bags, tins can be used as containers for your cookies gifts.
A few tips that will help novice bakers. Read all the recipe through before you start and assemble everything that you need. Do any preparation before you start, if the recipe calls for the chopped nuts, chop and set aside, eggs separated, set aside. This will make the flow of baking so much easier. Only use unsalted butter. I love Cabot, it’s made in Vermont by the cheddar people, I’m not sure if this butter is available outside of New England. The first time you try a recipe always bake for less time than the recipe calls for and then add additional minutes if needed. Unless your oven is calibrated perfectly and even then, ovens do bake differently. Nothing is worse than over baked cookies, cakes, etc. Dry is not good!
At Christmas, I just start baking cookies and stop when I don’t have any more time left. I have so many recipes and cookie cookbooks and I keep buying more, I just can’t help myself. I try out one or two new cookies each year to see if I can find another favorite for my holiday tradition. The two recipes that I have included below are some of the first cookies that I make with my mother. These cookies are very basic and easy to make. Out of tradition, I make them every year and I want to share them with you.
Sandies – These are wonderful cookies to make a few weeks ahead of time because they keep very well.
1 cup butter I use Cabot Butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons water
2 cups flour King Arthur is my favorite baking flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup confectionery sugar- for rolling cookies after baking
Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and water. Add flour and mix well. Stir in pecans. Shape into small balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in 325 F over for 20 minutes. Remove. Cool slightly. Roll in confectionery sugar
An easy way to do this is to put sugar in a plastic bag and add 3-4 cookies and gently shake around to coat cookies. Or you can put sugar in a bowl and roll around to coat.
Chocolate-Dipped Anise Biscotti
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoon butter
2-3 drops anise oil or 1 tablespoon anise seeds, crushed (Use mortal and pustular or put in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin)
2 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs.
Chocolate for dipping
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I like Ghirardelli)
3 tablespoon shortening
1. In a large bowl put 1 1/2 cup flour and remaining ingredients. Mix at low speed until just mixed, increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes, scraping sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add remaining cup of flour; finish mixing with a large wooden spoon. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour until firm.(Or place dough in the freezer for 30 minutes)
2. Preheat over to 375 F. Grease large cookie sheet. Divide dough in half. On a floured surface shape each half into a 10 x 3-inch loaf. Place both loaves, abut 2 inches apart, on cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes
3. Remove cookie sheet from oven; immediately slice each loaf crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Turn slices cut side down on the same cookie sheet. Bake cookies 5 minutes longer or until lightly golden. Remove cookies to rack to cool.
4. Microwave chocolate and shortening on low for 1 minute or until chocolate melts. Stir to combine. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Place dipped cookies on wax paper, let dry until firm.
Store cookies in a tightly covered container.
Give baking a try, it is so much fun! I have plenty more cookies to make and recipes to share.