Holiday Cookies

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I finally finished taking down my VERY colorful holiday decorations, lights and only have the tree to take down.  That makes this the perfect time to post one last final post about the holiday season…one I’ve been writing on and off for a few weeks. Better late than never.   As you know by now the holiday season is my favorite time of the year as even though I LOVE the summer and warm weather, I love the lights and sparkle that only happen during the holiday season even more!

Of course since I love to bake, I went a tad bit overboard, and I want to use this post to create a one stop shop for holiday cookie recipes. Of course there pare hundreds of recipes out there and these are just the one’s either I make every year or chose to make this year. As you know I use pinterest a lot and so many of these are links thru my pinterest, but for those who don’t use pinterest hopefully you can use this small database of holiday cookie ideas. Each picture will lead you to a different recipe. By the way to put a different spin on holiday cookies, most of these can be made for any event during the year simply by altering the colors, shapes, and designs. Happy baking!

Walnut Toffee Bars

2012-12-29 14.15.29This is a recipe I first found on the back of a Diamond Walnuts package. It’s an awesome recipe; very easy, almost fool proof and it doesn’t hurt that the cookies taste amazing. I’ve made them every year since I found the recipe and was happy to have found it on-line. You can use pecans if you prefer them, but I like the taste that walnuts give these cookie bars. The only alteration I made to the the recipe was the addition of chocolate covered toffee bits to the topping. I like the crunchy texture they add to the cookie bars.

Sugar Cookies

2012-12-29 14.02.18I found this recipe for sugar cookies years ago in Gourmet magazine and it’s another cookie that I make every year. I like this recipe because it uses both brown sugar AND granulated sugar. There’s also the addition of a small amount of nutmeg. The brown sugar and nutmeg add a new dimension to the traditional sugar cookie. For the glaze I simply mixed together confectioners sugar and milk with a touch of food color. Once you glaze the cookies you can top them with colored sugar and/or sprinkles. They make for a nice presentation on your cookie platter or for a cookie exchange.

Rainbow Cookies

2012-12-29 14.12.55These rainbow cookies are awesome and I got the idea from my mother who makes a similar cookie. Hers are much better than mine of course as she’s been making them for years! Rather than ask her for her recipe I decided to try it on my own and the result I must say is pretty good 🙂 The colored layers are the made from the same dough I use for my sugar cookies with the simple addition of finely chopped cashews. For the chocolate layer I found a chocolate roll out cookie dough recipe which you’ll be linked to when you click on the picture. The addition of the cashews makes these cookies unique and when combined with the chocolate layer makes for a tasty addition to your cookie platter.

Brownie Pops

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The idea for these brownie pops came from a blog post about peppermint brownie pops. The recipe for the brownies is Alton Brown’s recipe. Yep it’s a food network recipe and it’s a great recipe for brownie pops! My version doesn’t use peppermint candy but rather nonpareils and I also added a layer of home made dulce de leche to the brownies. To make brownie pops simply cut the baked brownies into 1 inch pieces, put a popsicle stick into the middle of each piece, dip each piece into dark chocolate and cover with your choice topping.

Seven-Layer “Rainbow” Cookies

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Yep these are the very same Italian layer cookies that are found in many bakeries. This is another cookie my mom has been making for years. I’ve never been able to come up with a decent recipe for them as many of the times I’ve tried, they have come out very dry. This time I thought why not make them more cake like so that they come out nice and moist? Guess what it worked! I found this recipe for white velvet cake and added in homemade almond paste rather than marzipan. Once the batter was done, I separated it into three portions adding in red food coloring to one portion and green to another. I baked each portion separately in the same size pan.

Once each cake was fully cooled I began the layering process by covering the red cake with some raspberry jam. I mixed in some chocolate wine to the raspberry jam as it adds an unexpectedly nice flavor. I then covered the jam layer with the green cake, added another layer of raspberry jam and covered this with the plain layer. After this, I covered the finished cake with a heavy pan and placed it in the fridge overnight so that the layers melded together. The next day, I cut the cake into strips length wise. I was able to get five strips from my cake.

For the chocolate layers, I began by melting down some dark chocolate till it was nice and smooth. If you add in a little bit of oil it will help make the chocolate smooth enough to spread over each strip of cake. Once melted I spread the chocolate on the first layer and topped with chocolate sprinkles. I let the first layer dry and repeated the same process. Many people just put chocolate over the top and bottom layers but I find that putting it around all four layers yields a moister and better tasting cookie. Once fully dry you can cut the strips into cookies.

Red and White PinWheel Cookies

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These cookies are a first for me and while they are VERY time consuming, they are worth the work as they are an awesome looking additon to your cookie tray. I made them red and white with red, green and white colored sprinkles, but you can make them any color you choose making them perfect for any celebration or holiday! I wanted a chai flavored cookie this year, so I added 2 tablespoons of chai spice which you can omit if you don’t like the flavor. I hope you enjoy these cookies!

Mexican Wedding Cookies

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Kourabiedes, Russian Tea Cakes or Nut Balls whatever you call them, these cookies are much easier to make than they look. You can use walnuts, pecans, almonds, or any combination of nuts you choose. The best thing about these cookies are that they are perfect for any celebration, holiday or event. In place of the almond extract I used vanilla and in the past I’ve used Amaretto Liquor. As an added bonus these cookies just look awesome!

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies

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Of course there’s a chocolate version of this and I LOVE chocolate so would you expect anything less? I made these last year for the first time and they will definitely be a staple in my holiday cookie baskets for years to come.

Eggnog Kringla

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I love Eggnog, but it’s an acquired taste and not everyone likes it. However in cookies it’s awesome! For those who don’t like eggnog either because of the taste or the raw egg, these cookies are the perfect way to try it and trust me they will change your mind! While the traditional way to make these is to shape them like pretzels, I did mine two different ways. The first was rolled out like sugar cookie dough and cut into snowflakes decorated with icing and topped with gold and silver sprinkles. For the second version I took two pieces of dough and rolled them into very thin rolls, then twisted them together. I dipped one end in white chocolate and topped with colored sprinkles. I wanted to use the same dough but create a different taste and texture for each…almost like two different cookies! This year I’m gonna go for it and make some of them traditionally.

Well that’s a wrap for me on the 2012 holiday season…just in time for me to do a post about the Superbowl!  Although the Giants didn’t make to the playoffs, this years playoffs were very  interesting.  To have 3 rookies QB’s playing in the playoffs was amazing!  I’m not only a Giants fan but a football fan and as I football fan I have to give the Ravens and 49ers credit for creating what should be a very good game to watch!  Welcome to the Harbaugh Bowl!

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