Archives for December 6, 2013

Holiday Cookies Make Everything Better!

Holiday Cookies Make Everything Better!

Chef J is back to talk about Holiday Cookies! This week he shares a basic cookie dough recipe that can be customized to your liking, plus an old family recipe for some awesome peanut butter cookies.

Remember when you were little and you would leave a plate of raw carrots and broccoli with a side of ranch dressing out for Santa Clause? No? Maybe it’s because that’s gross and nobody wants that stuff. Yet every year, at every party, there is a crudites platter; sitting quietly in the corner, tossing out awkward glances, hoping to catch someone’s eye like that weird uncle that no one remembers inviting. Let’s not waste vegetables: we want cookies! The holidays are about cramming as much sugary goodness into our face hole as possible! They’re also about family and tradition and love and stuff, but mostly cookies. Walk into any party with a tray full of chewy, gooey holiday cookies and you will be surrounded by friends. Cookies will dry the tears of your whiny niece, end the political rant of your cranky grandpa, and even soften the daggers of your judgmental aunt.

You can build them yourself with relatively little effort and you are limited only by your imagination! A great way to expand your cookie catalog without dirtying extra dishes is with a holiday cookie exchange- recruit a few friends and each pick a couple of kinds of cookies to make. Make a bit extra and trade them around. I recommend freezing the dough before baking. You can go from freezer to oven, ensuring that you are never more than 13 minutes away from freshly baked cookies. Freezing also gives you a better result: when making the dough, if you over mix you will end up with a tough cookie since the gluten gets all worked up. And if you don’t let it sit long enough you end up with crumbly cookies. By freezing (or even storing in the refrigerator), you allow the gluten to relax and the flour to absorb the liquid, giving you a perfectly chewy, moist treat! If you have room in your freezer, you can freeze individual portions of dough on a cookie sheet and then store in a zipper bag after they have frozen solid. Otherwise, roll up a log of cookie dough in parchment paper and just slice into pucks when you’re ready to bake.

Here is a basic dough recipe. You can add an extra 2 TBS of dry ingredients (cocoa powder, spices, etc.), and 2-3 cups of “name” ingredients, as in the word before Cookies (chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries, and so on…).

Basic Cookie Dough
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 oz maple syrup or honey
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 package instant pudding
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375.
Cream together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Sift together the flour, pudding and soda and slowly add to the mixture.
Fold in the goodies of your choice.
Scoop onto a lined baking sheet and bake 11-13 minutes.
My favorite cookie of all time is the Peanut Blossom! My Swedish grandmother would make these every year and I would eat so many that I would have a tummy ache until New Year’s. My mom would try to hide them under the peas in the freezer, so I can tell you they are great frozen!

Peanut Blossoms
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz milk
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Sugar
  • A bunch of chocolate kisses, about 48 (plus more for munching!)

Preheat oven to 325.
Cream together the shortening, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar.
Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla.
Combine the flour, soda and salt, and slowly add to the peanut butter mixture.
Roll the dough into 1” balls, roll in sugar and gently press onto a lined baking sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and press a kiss into the warm cookie.

Printer friendly recipes: Basic Cookie Dough Recipe  Peanut Blossoms Recipe

Holiday Cookie 2

photo by Alicia Thompson at