Food & Drink Magazine

Christmas Cookie Baking Bonanza

By Msadams @HilaryFerrell

Along with visiting new Christmas attractions each year, Mr. A and I have developed another Christmas tradition, baking cookies with my Aunt.

For two years now, we have taken over my Aunt’s kitchen for an entire afternoon to bake cookies and sing Christmas songs (well, Mr. A does more eating than baking but at least he cooperates).

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Since we had been so ambitious last year with our baking adventures, we decided to pare down our list and focus on four recipes: millionaire shortbread bars, orange cranberry shortbread cookies, linzer tarts with raspberry preserves, and brownie peppermint cups.

The three of us make a pretty hilarious group baking.

The hubby sits at the kitchen bar stuffing his face and singing Christmas music while we slave away.

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I try to make my cookies look like perfection, obsessing over every little detail and renegade sprinkle.

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And then my Aunt laughs at my perfection, slaps some cookies on a baking sheet, and then obsesses over the cookies’ flavor.  She’s all about taste, I’m all about style.  This always makes for a fun afternoon.

Intent to get Mr. A in on our baking action, we assigned him a few tasks this time around.

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Zesting an orange—aka teaching him what zest means and crushing candy canes.

I think he was pretty proud of himself for putting his manly talents to work and it didn’t hurt that he got to use the remaining orange for his Blue Moon (the key to his happiness).

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Despite our vast baking experience and obsessiveness, my Aunt and I both managed our first complete and total baking fail.

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These hideous excuses of baked goods are brownie peppermint cups.  Not only did they look awful, but they were so chewy they were almost inedible.  It pained me to watch these beauties turn out so awfully as I spent a good 20 minutes perfectly pouring them into my silicone pan.  In our defense, I think the recipe called for too much peppermint patty in the batter.  Once the patties melted, they made the brownies look like they weren’t fully cooked, which inevitably led to burnt brownies and a ruined pan.

While the brownies may have been sufficiently murdered, we did manage to make the rest of the recipes successfully.

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To jazz up the linzer tart cookies, we ended up doing them two ways.  The first was with concentric circles with raspberry preserves in the middle.  Doesn’t this cookie scream CHRISTMAS EAT ME?

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Fearing that the concentric circles would turn out horribly misshapen, I also want to go with a simple shape that couldn’t be ruined.  Since these cookies were on the plain side, they definitely required a sweet coating to balance out their blandness.  So we decided to dip them in chocolate and sprinkle on some almond slices, because what doesn’t taste delicious dipped in chocolate.

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We also jazzed up the cranberry orange shortbread cookies by coating the outside of the dough with sprinkles, clearly the wrong move for someone with obsessive even sprinkle distribution disorder but they sure turned out cute.  A tip for those of you looking to make this recipe, if you are particular about the cookies’ shape, you will want to make sure the dough is really cold prior to cutting.  As the dough becomes warmer, it gets more difficult to hold the round shape while slicing and dicing. But it’s nothing that some sprinkles can’t fix.

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Last but not least, we had our millionaire shortbread, which I credit entirely to my Aunt.  She managed to whip this up while the rest of us tried to figure out where to go to dinner.  It was definitely a sleeper hit though.

The key is the dulce de leche in the middle and then of course the extra butter and salt that my Aunt added to it.


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All in all it was a pretty successfully day.  I walked away with 4 plates full of cookies, one ruined pan, and lots of fun memories.  It’s awesome having a baking partner in crime and a sometimes baking assistant (when he isn’t busy eating hummus and drinking beer—what a life, huh?)

Thanks again Laura.  And Mom be prepared to see these suckers Christmas Eve (unless I’ve eaten them all by then…I mean who could possibly eat 4 plates of cookies—oh right, me).

Anyone else have fun Christmas cookie baking bonanzas this year?

P.S. I will not let those brownies get the best of me.  I will make them successfully—perhaps no peppermint patties in the batter next time (no need for a peppermint patty overload).   I’ll keep you updated

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