Christmas Cookies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We may not have had any snow yet, but it still feels like the holidays with twinkling lights everywhere and the smell of fresh baked cookies out of the oven. Today I am sharing with you three cookie recipes pulled from a few of the library’s cookbooks that I tested myself over the weekend. Read on to find out how easy these treats were to make and how they stood up to a taste test.

Eggnog-Frosted Nutmeg Sugar Cookies
Very Merry Cookies by Better Homes and Gardens
Makes about 24 cookies

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1/2 of a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon eggnog
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 recipe Eggnog Icing (see below)
Coarse sugar

Eggnog Icing: In a medium bowl stir together 3 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in enough eggnog or milk (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make an icing of spreading consistency.

1. Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape pulp from the vanilla bean; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg, eggnog, and vanilla pulp or vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
 

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface roll each dough half to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a fluted round 3-inch cookie cutter (I used a star-shaped cookie cutter instead), cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are light brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Spread eggnog icing on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar. Let stand until icing is dry.

For those of you that like eggnog, this is the cookie for you. It has the sweet simplicity of a sugar cookie with a holiday twist. I did have to wait an hour for the dough to chill, but preparing it was a snap. However, I would only use a dash of nutmeg instead of a teaspoon the next time around since my taste buds, as well as those of my taste testers, thought it was a bit much.

4/5 stars for taste, 5/5 stars for ease

Orange Snowballs
Cookies For Christmas by Jennifer Dorland Darling

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1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel (set aside)
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel (set aside)
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon gold edible glitter (optional)

1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in orange juice until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the 1 tablespoon orange peel and remaining flour.

2. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in a food processor or a blender container combine the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the 2 teaspoons orange peel Cover and process or blend until mixture is combined. Stir in edible glitter, if desired. Roll the baked cookies, still slightly warm, in the sugar mixture. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool. Makes about 48 cookies.

I can’t say I’ve ever had a cookie like this before, but I’m glad I tried it. The orange flavor was pretty subtle, and if you want more of a citrus taste, I would suggest adding just a tiny bit of orange extract, perhaps 1/8 teaspoon, or perhaps increase the amount of orange juice by about 1/2 teaspoon. These cookies were quick and easy to make and while my taste testers and I enjoyed them, we all agreed they could use a little oomph.

3/5 stars for taste, 5/5 stars for ease

Baby Butter & Jam Sandwiches
Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn
Makes about 36 cookies

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10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting the cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Raspberry preserves (or strawberry or apricot preserves or some of each)

Cookie cutter needed: 1 1/2-inch round
Zwin shares an awesome tip and writes, “The first time I made these I couldn’t find my 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. I ended up using one of those little plastic cups that come with a bottle of cough syrup. The rim was a perfect 1 1/2 inches! And the cup can be gently squeezed to loosen any cutouts that get stuck.”

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar until fully blended. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, gather the dough into a ball, then press it into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until the dough is firm enough to roll out. (If refrigerated longer, let the dough sit at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes to soften before rolling.)

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Using the cutter, stamp out circles close together and arrange them about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Re-roll the scraps two or three times. (Working the dough too much can make it tough.)

4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, or until the cookies are just beginning to color and the edges are pale golden. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

To assemble: Spread a little of the preserves on the bottom side of half of the rounds, taking care not to spread it too close to the edge. Top with another round, right side up. Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the sandwich cookies.

Store the plain rounds in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Once the cookies are spread with jam, they’ll start to soften after 1 to 2 days.

Out of the three recipes I tested, I’d say this one was my favorite. Soft, buttery, and flaky with the tartness of raspberries – what more could you want in a cookie? While I was impatient and didn’t want to wait an hour for this dough to chill as well, the prep process was very simple and the end product was well worth the wait! My only regret is that I didn’t make more of these!

5/5 stars for taste, 5/5 stars for ease

All three books are filled with plenty of other great recipes, so feel free to stop by the library to check them out and browse our other cookbooks! Happy Holidays!

-a-

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