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Sharing a love for cookies: Bring on the baked favorites for the holiday

Sharing a love for cookies: Bring on the baked favorites for the holiday

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It's time once again for home cooks to dig out beloved family recipes for holiday cookies.

As the holiday season nears, sweets fans begin to think about what cookies they'll include in their seasonal baking repertoire. Will it be grandma's hit sugar cookies, a friend's best peanut butter creation or a new recipe from a bestselling cookbook?

At this time of year also, there are various cookie exchanges between friends and relatives, holiday bake sales featuring all sorts of cookies and even special Christmas cookie classes offered by schools, retailers and others.

"Nothing represents the spirit of loving, nurturing and giving more than a homemade cookie. It is small and pretty, sweet and comforting. It is something friends and family can make together," writes Rose Levy Beranbaum, cookbook author.  Beranbaum is the author of "Rose's Christmas Cookies," "The Cake Bible," and "Rose's Baking Basics" among other books.

In her most recent book, "Rose's Baking Basics," Beranbaum includes recipes for assorted cookies from Oatmeal, Bite-Size Linzer Thumbprints and Walnut Powder Puffs to Classic Spritz Cookies,  Marzipan Cookies and Gingerbread Folks.

Food experts agree there are countless recipes to add to your cookie collection."With knowledge of a few straightforward techniques, basic cupboard ingredients and a few baking sheets, cookies can be effortlessly churned out of the humblest of kitchens," write the editors of the new "Joy of Cooking," which was released last month.

In the "Joy of Cooking," home cooks will find varied recipes for cookies including Chewy Chocolate Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodles, White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, Gingersnaps and more.

Region sweets fans who don't want to step into the kitchen to create their own baked goods will want to check out a special Cookie sale presented by Ivy Tech Community College's Culinary Club in East Chicago. The Winter Cookie Sale will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 in the school's dining room. Cookie orders should be in by Dec. 6. The club will offer 17 cookies on its menu. Cookies include Mexican Wedding Cookies, Almond Crescents, Peanut Butter, Thumbprint Cookies, Scottish Short Bread, Oatmeal Raisin and more. Call  219-392-3600 for more information.

If you'd like to add some new cookies to your holiday cookie list, try the following recipes.

FOOLPROOF HOLIDAY COOKIES

Servings: 36

Start to finish: 2 hours

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) superfine sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until dough looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and vanilla and beat until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Transfer dough to counter; knead just until it forms cohesive mass and divide in half. Form each half into disk, wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. (Wrapped dough can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. Let dough thaw completely in refrigerator before rolling.)

Working with 1 disk of dough at a time, roll dough 1/8 inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Slide dough, still between parchment, onto baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Working with one sheet of dough at a time, remove top piece of parchment and cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters. Using thin offset spatula, transfer shapes to prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.

Easy All-Purpose Glaze:

Makes about 1 cup

We decorate our Foolproof Holiday Cookies with this easy-to-make glaze, but feel free to use it, dyed or not, on any flat cookie that could use a festive flourish. The cream cheese in the glaze gives it a slightly thicker consistency that's good for spreading, and it cuts the sweetness of the glaze with its tang.

2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners' sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

Food coloring (optional)

Whisk all ingredients in bowl until smooth.

From Associated Press

Simply Amore Cookies

2/3 cup of Once Again Hazelnut Amoré

1 cup + 2 tablespoons of oat flour

1 egg

DIRECTIONS: Start by beating the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Then add in Once Again Hazelnut Amoré and mix well. It is much easier to mix when Once Again Hazelnut Amoré when it is at room temperature.

Slowly add in oat flour while mixing. You’ll form a dough that is easy to roll, having a consistency much like soft clay. Roll into small balls and place on a baking sheet.

With the back of a knife, make an indentation on each cookie before they go into a pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove cookies from oven and immediately place a chocolate chip or a dab of peanut butter into each indentation. Let cookies cool and store them in airtight container for up to seven days.

From Once Again Amore

CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES

Servings: 22

Start to finish: 1 hour

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) brown sugar

3 large eggs

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

DIRECTIONS: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.

Whisk brown sugar; eggs; espresso powder, if using; and vanilla together in large bowl. Microwave chocolate and butter in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Spread granulated sugar in shallow dish. Spread confectioners' sugar in second shallow dish. Working in batches, drop 2-tablespoon mounds of dough (or use #30 scoop) directly into granulated sugar and roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners' sugar and roll to coat; space dough balls evenly on prepared sheets, 11 per sheet.

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until they are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.

Power Packed Popcorn Cookies

1/4 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup toasted wheat germ

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup flaked coconut

3 cups popped popcorn

1 cup raisins, dried cranberries or other dried fruit, chopped

1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped nuts, optional

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350º F.

Lightly spray baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together and add egg and vanilla; mix well.

Stir in flour mixture and wheat germ and oatmeal until well blended.

Add coconut, popcorn, raisins and sunflower seeds, if desired, and mix until well blended. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheet, allowing 2 inches between cookies to allow for spreading.

Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on pan 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

From The Popcorn Board

FOOLPROOF HOLIDAY BUTTER COOKIES

Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (45 minutes active)

Makes 40 cookies (2-inch cookies)

For the cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups (340 grams) all-purpose flour

Decorating sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the vanilla. Add the flour all at once and pulse the mixer on and off a few times to start blending it in.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, continue to mix in the flour, scraping the bowl as necessary, until you have what look like nuggets and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and finish blending the dough by pulling off small hunks of it and pushing each hunk across the work table with the heel of your hand. Then gather the smooth dough into a ball, divide it in half and press each half into a disk.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between 2 sheets of kitchen parchment or waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Slide the paper-sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet or cutting board (you can stack the pieces of dough) and freeze for at least 1 hour. At this stage, the also dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.

When you're ready to bake, set a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Remove 1 piece of dough from the freezer, remove the parchment from the dough and cut out cookies. As you cut them, place them on the lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. If you won't be decorating the cookies, lightly sprinkle them with sugar. Save the scraps to combine with the scraps from the other piece of dough.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and on the bottoms. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack, wait a couple of minutes, then lift the cookies off the sheet with an offset spatula and transfer to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheet between batches. Gather any scraps together, reroll them, chill and make more cookies.

Associated Press, Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking Chez Moi," Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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