I keep it pretty simple and traditional when it comes to making Christmas cookies. And especially this year, I am craving simplicity and tradition.
As with most food, I prefer to eat two or three bites of a variety of things, as opposed to a lot of just one thing. So I love a cookie box, even if it’s just one I’m making for my husband and myself.
To me, the most classic Christmas cookie is a shortbread cut into seasonal shapes and decorated with red and green icing. It’s the cookie my grandma always made, and then passed down through the generations. It’s so simple, too: You combine 1 cup butter or shortening and ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, whisking heartily until it’s light and fluffy and thoroughly mixed. Add 2 cups flour and stir well until you have a soft dough. Roll it out on the counter, cut with cookie cutters, decorate and voila — Christmas magic. Those get baked in a 325-degree oven for about 15 minutes, until lightly brown. Then you can frost them.
Here are the other cookies rounding out my cookie platter each year:
· I love a cranberry meltaway, named so because it melts in your mouth. These are usually made with a combination of oil and butter, which aids in their meltiness. I always buy an extra bag of fresh cranberries when I do my Thanksgiving shopping, freeze them and then put them to use in these cookies. A little bit of orange zest in the batter seals the deal.
· Some sort of bar cookie is a must. Particularly something with a shortbread-type crust, a layer of caramel and lots of texture like candied nuts or an oat crumble. I like how easy these are to bake in one pan then cut into individual cookies as you see fit.
· My husband loves to make chocolate chip cookies during Christmas baking season. I always question the decision until I am presented with a platter of chocolate chip cookies, and then it’s fine. Something classic like this can be a fun addition to a spread. Try browning the butter — cooking it in a skillet until browned and very fragrant — then letting it cool before adding it to your favorite recipe.
Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
These are one of my favorites, and for some reason I only make them around the holidays. The flavor of espresso (you can also just use regular coffee grounds) really brings out the chocolate.
2 ¼ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 ½ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (or regular coffee grounds)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then, add eggs one at time, mixing after each addition to make sure they are well combined.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix everything until the ingredients are fully combined, but do not overbeat. Stir in chocolate chips.
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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon, drop dough on the sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve.
Source: Adapted from food.com