Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cookies





Today is cookie baking day . . . come in for a cookie and a cup of tea !

. My friend Julie is doing a series of blog posts about Norwegian Cookies that are traditional in her family and I thought I'd post about some of the cookies that we traditionally have for the holidays - though not specific to any nationality - they are favorites that we just couldn't do without every year. Last weekend I finished mixing up three batches of cookies - and have a couple more chilling in the fridge - and yes, recipes are included.

My first and all time favorite is Russian Teacakes. As you might seen in previous posts, growing up in Alaska these cookies were always a big part of the Bishop's Tea at the Bishop's Residence in Sitka, Alaska during Russian Christmas.


RUSSIAN TEACAKES

1

cup butter softened

1/2

cup powdered sugar

1

teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4

cups flour

3/4

cup finely chopped nuts

1/4

teaspoon salt


Powdered sugar

  1. Cream together confectioner's sugar and butter. Add vanilla.

  2. Knead in flour by hand until completely mixed. Or if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer that works just as well.

  3. Chill dough for about an hour.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper - my "new" discovery.

  5. Roll dough into a ball. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  6. When baked, dip or roll in confectioner's sugar. Store airtight in layers with waxed paper in between.



THUMBPRINT COOKIES

3/4cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ cup butter softened

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, separated (or 1 egg separated and 1 whole egg)

3cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 cup finely chopped nuts

Jam or jelly


Heat oven to 350ºF.

Mix brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg yolks (or 1 egg yolk – save the white for later in this recipe - and 1 whole egg) in medium bowl.

Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white.

Roll the cookie balls in chopped nuts. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet, or parchment paper. Press thumb deeply in center of each. Fill the indentation with your favorite jam.

Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, or eat one or two right away – but be careful – that jam is like hot lava.


CRANBERRY PECAN/SHORTBREAD

(for those of you who didn't get this recipe in a previous post) This is a NEW traditionally favorite cookie - simply because it is too good to not make for the holidays.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature (do NOT use margarine)

2/3 cup sugar

1 t. vanilla

2 1/3 cups flour

1/2 t. salt

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

Cream the butter until smooth (about 1 - 2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla. Gently stir in the flour and salt just until incorporated.

Fold in the chopped pecans and dried cranberries. (Make sure that the nuts and cranberries are evenly distributed throughout the dough.)

Divide the dough in half. You might have to knead the dough a bit to get it to stick together – this is a rather dry dough. Place the dough on a piece of waxed paper. Smooth and shape the dough into an evenly shaped log that is about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Then thoroughly roll the shaped logs in the waxed paper, twist the ends of the paper to seal the logs, and chill for at least two hours, or up to three days. (The logs can also be frozen for about two months. If freezing, it is best to defrost the logs in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.)

Preheat oven to 325, with the rack in the center of the oven. Grease pans or use parchment paper.

Using a thin bladed knife ( I used a good thin, finely serrated knife), slice the logs into ¼ thick cookies. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about ½ inch apart – the cookies don't really spread.

Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 48 shortbread cookies. What I like about these cookies, besides they are the best tasting in the world – is that you mix them up one day and then bake them another, when the kitchen is clean and there is no mixing-up-cookie-dough mess.

Gingerbread Pigs

Here is my favorite recipe for Gingerbread Cookies - online - isn't that handy dandy?!? Or you can use any Gingerbread Cut-out Cookie recipe you like. I found my copper pig cookie cutter many years ago.

These pigs are very popular at our house - got to have that traditional Christmas Pig!

And then there are Sugar Cutout Cookies - but you can find a zillion recipes for those online - or maybe you already have your favorites. Don likes them flavored with Almond Extract.

Today I have baked 10 logs of Summer Sausage, 3 dozen sugar cookies, 2 dozen big Gingerbread Pigs, 3 dozen Pecan/Cranberry Shortbread cookies, dozens of Russian Teacakes, more dozens of Thumbprint cookies with home-made raspberry jam and two loaves of bread for the stuffing on Christmas day - it has been a most excellent day!

And what are your favorite holiday treats?

12 comments:

Franni said...

Russian Teacakes, my most favorite recipe you ever gave me

laurie said...

Wow, beautiful photos!
I just made Russian tea cakes today for the first time!

Pat aka Posh said...

They all look so delicious!!

Belinda said...

OH STOP IT....STOP IT!! Those first two are my absolute favorites!!!! I don't even mind the white powdered sugar falling a-l-l over my shirt!!

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Oh wow Jo, these cookies look so awesome!! I used to do a lot of baking for the holidays, but not as much lately. My daughter does make a delicious pumpkin bread and I will make some cookies. But I want to come to your house and have tea and cookies :-)

Barb said...

Thanks for the recipes, looks wonderful!

jojo said...

lefse is one of my all time favorites but I have no clue how to make it. My MIL does though so I always get a bit!
Made gingerbread today for gingerbread bread pudding for our Christmas eve celebration. And sugar cookies, fudge day tomorrow. Sure smells good in here!

Mary said...

I'm the only one who likes gingerbread at my house. We like making peanut butter cookies with Chocolate kisses on them and Ritz/Hi Ho crackers with peanut butter between and dipped in Choc and topped with sprinkles. Time intensive but SO yummy! That's a lot of baking for one day. We eat ours while we all play games during Christmas break.

Celestial Charms said...

Yummy cookies! The gingerbread pig is so cute. I hope you enjoy a very Merry Christmas.
Maureen

Rowan said...

You've certainly been busy! Cookies are a very American thing at Christmas, here in the UK they don't figure at all but we do make a rich fruit Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies. I rather fancy those Russian cookies, you mention adding cinnamon and almond (extract?)but don't say how much of each? They sound pretty quick to make so I may well have a go if not before Christmas then for New Year. Hope you have a very Happy Christmas.

Peg said...

And here I was wondering where I could find my Thumbprints recipe ..... need to get a little bit more done. These all look so yummy!

Lili said...

All I can say is, I am so amazed at how much you can get accomplished in one day Jo! Everything is beautiful and I love your little pink pigs. Your place is definitely all ready for the holidays; I hope you have time for yourself to rest and just enjoy it all! ~Lili