Good things come in small packages: Enjoy this year's 25 Christmas cookies offering

Cherry Winks: Surprisingly freezeworthy. We thought the cornflakes would be soggy when the cookies thawed, but they weren’t. Submitted by Barbara McCabe, St. Petersburg.

SCOTT KEELER | TIMES

Cherry Winks: Surprisingly freezeworthy. We thought the cornflakes would be soggy when the cookies thawed, but they weren’t. Submitted by Barbara McCabe, St. Petersburg.

CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO FINGERS

makes 5 to 6 dozen

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

3 ounces (about ? cup) almond paste

1 egg yolk

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup finely chopped natural pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl until blended. Add almond paste and egg yolk; beat until light. Blend in flour to make a smooth dough (if dough is too soft to handle, cover and refrigerate until firm). Turn out onto lightly floured board. Pull off 1- to 2-teaspoon pieces and roll into a finger shape. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Melt chips in small bowl over hot water. Stir until smooth. Dip both ends of cookies about ½ inch into melted chocolate, then dip the chocolate ends into pistachios. Place on waxed paper and let stand until chocolate is set.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Gail Sloan, Tampa

APPLE HERMITS

makes 3 to 4 dozen

1 cup raisins

1 cup shortening

1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed

¼ cup molasses

3 eggs

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup finely chopped apple

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Rinse raisins in hot water, then drain on paper towels and set aside.

Cream shortening with brown sugar until light and fluffy, then add molasses. Add eggs one at a time. Mix and sift flour, salt, baking soda and spices; add to shortening mixture and mix lightly. Stir in nuts, chopped apples and raisins, and mix well by hand. Drop by tablespoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Wanda Fickey, Temple Terrace

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CRUMB BARS

makes 36 bars

Bottom layer:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

¼ teaspoon salt

Filling:

2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestle Toll House semisweet chocolate morsels

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

½ cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With electric mixer, cream together butter, flour, brown sugar and salt until it resembles coarse crumbs. With floured fingers, press 1 ¾ cups of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of a greased 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Reserve remaining mixture. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire rack.

Combine 1 cup chocolate morsels and sweetened condensed milk in small, heavy-duty saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Spread over hot crust.

Stir chopped pecans into reserved crumb mixture and sprinkle over chocolate filling. Drop teaspoonfuls of raspberry jam over the pecan-crumb mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chocolate morsels. Return to oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Yolanda Cruz, Tampa

GUMDROP COOKIES

makes 4 to 5 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking oats

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup fruit-flavored gumdrops, cut in ¼-inch pieces (before measuring) and dredged in flour (see note)

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, vanilla and baking soda solution, and beat until blended. Add flour, oats, coconut and gumdrop pieces. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake 12 minutes.

Remove to confectioners'-sugar-covered wax paper and sift additional confectioners' sugar on top. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Times testing note: Gumdrops are often labeled spice drops. They are the same thing.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Nancy Carns, Largo, and Linda Broback, Spring Hill

FROSTED NUTTY KRISP-O'S

makes 30 to 36 squares

1/3 cup butter or margarine

5 cups minimarshmallows

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 cups Rice Krispies

15 whole Oreo cookies, crushed

Peanut butter to spread

1 container vanilla frosting

Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Microwave butter, marshmallows and cocoa for 3 minutes on high, stirring after each minute. Mix in vanilla, Rice Krispies and crushed Oreos. Press mixture into baking dish and allow to cool slightly.

Spread ½ to ¾ cup peanut butter over the cooled mixture. Spread frosting over peanut butter and refrigerate. Cut into squares.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Margaret Lauck, Sun City Center

NUTELLA NUTTERS

makes 6 dozen

1 cup Nutella

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (about 2 minutes with a hand mixer). Use a melon baller to scoop out dough in balls or drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes (do not overbake). Cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack.

When completely cool, store in a sealed container. The dough can be prepared a few days ahead and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Juliana Menke, St. Petersburg

CHERRY-PECAN ICEBOX COOKIES

makes 8 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 egg

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans

¾ cup red and/or green candied cherries

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans and candied cherries.

Shape dough into four 8-inch rolls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until firm. Unwrap and cut into ⅛- to ¼-inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and edges are set. Cool for 2 minutes before moving to racks.

Times testing note: We liked these cookies best when they were crispy. To get a crisper cookie, bake for full 8 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Gail Sloan, Tampa

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

makes 4 dozen

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 teaspoon milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and baking soda mixture. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, and add to wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts and mix well. Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Mary Jeanne McIntosh, Indian Rocks Beach

CHOCOLATE MAGICS

makes 2 dozen

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar (plus extra for dredging)

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup smooth peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

Filling:

1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets (or line with parchment paper).

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In another medium-sized bowl, beat together the sugars, butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, beating to combine, then stir in dry ingredients, blending well.

To make filling, in a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth. With floured hands or a teaspoon scoop, roll the filling into 24 1-inch balls.

To shape the cookies, scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough (a lump about the size of a walnut), make an indentation in the center with your finger and place one of the peanut butter balls into the indentation. Bring the cookie dough up and over the filling, pressing the edges together over the center. Roll the cookie in the palms of your hands to smooth it out. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Roll each rounded cookie in granulated sugar and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Grease the bottom of a drinking glass and use it to flatten each cookie to about ½ inch thick.

Bake the cookies 7 to 9 minutes, or until they're set. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Gayle Hackbarth, Summerfield

CHERRY WINKS

makes 3 dozen

¾ cup Crisco butter-flavor shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

3 cups cornflakes, crushed

1/3 cup maraschino cherries, cut in half and blotted on a paper towel

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening and sugar well. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add dates and nuts (if using). Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in crushed cornflakes. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, topping each cookie with half of a maraschino cherry. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, surprisingly. We thought the cornflakes would be soggy when the cookies thawed, but they w eren't.

Submitted by Barbara McCabe, St. Petersburg

CRANBERRY MELTAWAYS

makes 4 dozen

½ cup sugar

½ cup confectioners' sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 large egg

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped fresh cranberries

Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat sugar, confectioners' sugar, butter and oil until well blended. Add orange zest and extract, egg and dry ingredients; blend well. Stir in cranberries. Drop dough by teaspoon 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until bottoms are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets and cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Betty McCreight, Clearwater

MALTED MILK BALL COOKIES

makes 3 dozen

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups roughly chopped malted milk balls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not overmix; stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chopped malted milk balls.

Drop tablespoon-sized balls onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Gail Sloan, Tampa

GINGER COOKIES

makes 4 dozen cookies

¾ cup shortening or butter

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 egg or 2 egg yolks

¼ cup molasses

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves

½ to 1 cup sugar (for dredging)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together until fluffy the shortening or butter, sugar and eggs. Add molasses and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix well. Chill dough thoroughly. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Kristine Ryan, Bradenton

MAPLE-DATE BARS

makes about 30 bars

1 ¾ cups finely chopped pitted dates (about 12 ounces)

¾ cup water

1/3 cup real maple syrup (Grade B, if possible)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Cooking spray

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup regular oats

Combine dates, water and maple syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 12 minutes, or until most liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently (mixture will look like jam). Stir in lemon zest; cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; spray 9- by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt and add to mixture. Add oats and mix well (mixture will be crumbly). Take 2 cups of the mixture and press into bottom of baking pan. Spread date jam evenly over the crust, then sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Sue E. Conrad, North Redington Beach

SPICY HOT CHOCOLATE COOKIES

makes about 5 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 egg whites

Glaze:

1 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons milk

Generous pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together and set aside. Combine the sugars in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar mixture, black and cayenne peppers and vanilla. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute. Beat in the egg whites and continue beating until mixture is smooth. Add the flour mixture, beating on the lowest speed, just until incorporated.

Form dough into two logs, rolling until 10 to 12 inches long and about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes.

Line baking pans with parchment. Use a sharp knife to slice dough into ¼-inch rounds. Arrange cookies about 1 inch apart. Bake 11 to 13 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. While cookies are cooling, mix all glaze ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cookies. Let sit until glaze sets.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Nancy Perkins, Tampa

LEMON LOVE NOTES

makes 16 squares

Bottom layer:

½ cup butter or margarine

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

¼ cup confectioners' sugar

Top layer:

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, flour and confectioners' sugar in bowl; mix until crumbly. Press into ungreased 8-inch square pan.

Bake 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool.

Combine sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and baking powder in bowl. Add eggs, lemon juice and zest. Mix well. Pour evenly over crust.

Bake another 25 minutes. (Top puffs up but falls in cooling.) Cool in pan on rack and cut into 2-inch squares. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Becky Lamson, Riverview

NONNO'S SNOWCAP COOKIES

makes 5 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 (1-ounce each) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 egg

3 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 1/2 teaspoons each vanilla and orange extracts

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup small nonpareils (Sno-Caps candy, see note)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine butter, sugar and cream cheese until mixed. Add melted chocolate, egg, orange zest and flavorings, and mix well. Add flour and baking powder, mix well. Stir in nonpareils by hand.

Grease cookie sheets. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto sheets and bake 15 minutes. Recipe is easily doubled.

Times testing note: We had trouble finding the all-white Sno-Caps candies but did find a multicolored version. We pressed large ones into the center of cookies before baking.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Lisa Bazzanella Smith, St. Petersburg

MOCHA THUMBPRINTS

makes 4 dozen

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlua)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, coffee powder and salt. Set aside.

In a second bowl, beat together ½ cup butter, sugar and egg until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture until just combined. Knead in bowl if necessary to bring dough together. Form dough into balls, using about 2 teaspoons each. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Make a thumb indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes until set. Press down indentations if needed. Remove from baking sheets to wire rack and let cool.

Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter, chocolate chips and corn syrup in microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in liqueur and vanilla. Let cool slightly; then pour into plastic food-storage bag, snip off a small corner and fill indentations.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but add the mocha filling after the cookie is thawed.

Submitted by Barbara McGeever, Valrico

CHOCO-NUT SANDWICH COOKIES

makes 24 sandwich cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut cream filling:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar

1 cup shredded coconut

1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg, blending well. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (Dough will be sticky.) Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

For filling, combine butter and confectioners' sugar. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer till smooth. Add coconut, marshmallow cream, pecans and vanilla, and blend well.

When cookies are cool, spread bottom of one cookie with filling and press with another. Edge with toasted coconut if you'd like.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Kathy Schembs, Clearwater

MERRY CHRISTMAS MACAROONS

makes about 5 dozen

4 egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup crushed peppermint candy

3 cups cornflakes

¼ cup red candied cherries (or a mix of red and green)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Stir in cream of tartar and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold in pecans, coconut, chocolate chips, peppermint candy and cornflakes. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Press a piece of red candied cherry into the center of each macaroon.

Bake 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove immediately from baking sheets. Cool on wire racks.

Note: If the weather is muggy and humidity high, you may have trouble making a dry, crunchy macaroon; they tend to absorb moisture.

Another tip: Egg whites freeze well; simply store in a jar and measure as needed. Two tablespoons equal one large egg white; ½ cup equals 4 egg whites.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Mary Ann Birchmire, Largo

DATE TORTE COOKIES

makes 20 to 25 squares

Torte layer:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup all-purpose flour

⅛ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Filling:

2 eggs

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 container (10 ounces) chopped dates

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine melted butter, flour, salt and sugar to make a soft dough. Pat onto an 8-inch square pan to make a ¼-inch base. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden in color. Cool completely.

Beat eggs well; add brown sugar, flour, salt and vanilla. Stir in coconut, walnuts and dates. Spread on the cooled torte. Raise oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake 25 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Times testing note: We let the cooled pan chill in the refrigerator overnight so that it could firm enough to cut. We recommend you do the same. The results were delicious.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Beth Wagner, Tampa

PINK AND WHITE PEPPERMINT BARK

makes a few dozen pieces, depending on how big you break them

24 candy canes

24 ounces white chocolate chips

1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract

⅛ teaspoon red food coloring

Bailey's Irish Cream, for drizzling

Place candy canes in a zippered freezer bag, wrap bag in a towel and use a rubber mallet to crush them. Set aside.

Melt half of the white chocolate chips in microwave on medium (50 percent power), checking at 30-second intervals. Add half of peppermint extract and stir. Spread the mixture out on wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with half of the crushed candy canes. Melt other half of chocolate chips, add remaining peppermint extract and red food coloring, and stir. When mixture is cooled and spreadable, frost first layer with pink chocolate. Sprinkle with other half of the crushed candy canes. Drizzle with Bailey's Irish Cream, if desired.

Let stand for about an hour, or until cool and hardened; break into pieces.

Times testing note: If you want to do one layer in traditional chocolate, use 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips and 12 ounces white chocolate chips, then follow the same directions for assembly.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Mary Beth Long, St. Petersburg

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO COOKIES

makes about 3 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons instant espresso

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition to make sure they are well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.

With electric mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop or rounded teaspoon, drop dough onto the sheet 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Lois Szydlowski, Tampa

CRUNCH PEPPERMINT COOKIES

makes 3 dozen

1 (16.5-ounce) roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups white vanilla baking chips or semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Several round peppermint candies, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Knead flour into sugar-cookie dough until well blended. Shape dough into 36 balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 14 minutes, until edges are golden. Cool 1 minute; then remove to wire racks to cool.

Microwave chips and vegetable oil, uncovered, on medium (50 percent power) for 2 to 3 minutes; stir until smooth. Dip half cookie in melted chips, and let drip. Put cookies on wax paper or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon crushed candy. Let stand until set.

Freezeworthy: Yes, but cool completely first.

Submitted by Judy M. Livingston, Safety Harbor

LAYERED COOKIE BARS

makes 30 to 36 bars

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

1 ¾ cups vanilla wafer crumbs

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted

¼ cup sugar

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips

¾ cup toffee bits (such as Heath Bits o' Brickle)

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in 9- by 13-inch baking pan in oven. Combine crumbs, cocoa and sugar, and sprinkle over melted butter. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly on top of crumbs. Top with chocolate chips and toffee bits, then nuts, and press down firmly.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cut into bars.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Jodi Kaufman, St. Petersburg

Good things come in small packages: Enjoy this year's 25 Christmas cookies offering 11/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:23pm]

    

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