Quick & Easy|
By Beverly Barbour
My readers' group has an annual Christmas dinner together, just 12 females--no guys because we have found they tend to take over and the dynamics change. One thing that both guys and girls (of any age) love is that we have a cookie exchange which means we each take home a large variety of cookies that we haven't baked. Plus the guys have a sweet treat gift for staying home.
A lot of recipe swapping goes on and a little bit of vying to bring forth something new and different each year. Not that anyone objects to the tried and true old favorites. Here are some of our recipes that you might enjoy this season.
Paula's White Chocolate-Raspberry Slices
You can't go wrong with a chocolate and raspberry duo and these are truly easy to make. You can, of course substitute strawberry, plum or apricot jam for the raspberry. Pick a family favorite. Makes 3 dozen cookies.
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 F and butter a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. In mixer bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour and beat until dough comes together. Divide dough into thirds. On a floured surface, with the palms of your hands, roll each portion into a 9-inch long rope about 1-inch thick. Place ropes 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Press a finger into dough to make 1/2-inch wide indentations at 1-inch intervals along each rope. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon jam into each indentation. Bake ropes until edges are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. Place white chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag, pushing to one corner; secure bag just above chocolate with a twist-tie or knot. Immerse corner of bag in a cup of hot water until chocolate is melted. Dry bag, then with scissors, cut off a tiny tip of the corner. Squeeze bag to drizzle white chocolate decoratively across ropes. Chill until chocolate is firm to touch, about 1 hour. Cut each rope diagonally into 12 slices.
Mary Alana's Carrot Cake Cookies
With the frosting in the middle of the sandwiched cookies these cookies are both easy to eat and easy to pack. Makes 10 to 12 individual "cakes."
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Put a dab of butter in each corner of 2 large baking sheets and line with parchment (the butter keeps the parchment lying flat). Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, sour cream and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined. Add carrots and coconut, stirring just until combined. Drop 1 tablespoon circles of batter about 1-inch apart on the parchment paper. Bake until cooked through and slightly browned, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool. Flip half of the cakes over; spread each with 1 1/2 tablespoons frosting. Top with remaining cakes to sandwich the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
This is a standard icing for cakes and cookies. If you like you can flavor it with a few drops of Grand Marnier, grated orange peel or grated lemon peel, rum, or even almond, walnut or pecan flavoring. Or, you can add finely chopped nuts.
5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
Beat cream cheese until very soft and then beat in the softened butter until very smooth and well blended. Beat in the confectioners sugar about a third at a time, making certain it is smooth after each addition. Beat in cream and vanilla.
Marion's Ginger Crunch
The cookies have a rich shortbread base with a thin ginger-flavored layer topping the bars. Cut them small as they are very much like candy. If you don't have access to Golden Syrup (Lyle's is a famous British brand) substitute corn syrup. Makes about 64.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Shortbread: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13- by 9-inch metal baking pan. Sift together dry ingredients and blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press evenly into bottom of pan (base will be thin). Bake in middle of oven until golden and crisp, 20 to 15 minutes. Topping: Make this shortly before the shortbread is done. Melt butter in small saucepan and whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring for 30 seconds. Pour topping over shortbread as soon as removed from oven, tilting pan to cover shortbread evenly. Cool in pan on a rack then cut into small rectangles (8 rows lengthwise and 8 crosswise).
There are 12 members in our reader's group and we each bring two dozen cookies. It is delicious fun.