Christmas Cookies 2018

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Master Chef
Nov 21, 2018
Woodbury, NJ
Anybody have cookies started yet? I have 8 rolls of cookie dough in the freezer (around 500 cookies worth), and I thought that I'd share some of the more usual cookies I've come up with through the years, which turned out to be some of the most popular, as well.

I used to make a lot more than I do now, but many of the people that used to help, as well as those that these were gifts for, are no longer around, for whatever reason. So I'm down from 3-4,000, to maybe 1,000-1,300. Only one helper, as a rule, compared to 5 or 6 years ago. With a commercial convection oven, baking 3 full sheets at a time, even two people can't keep up with that!

Making mass quantities of cookies I found easiest when making up logs of icebox cookies, and storing in the freezer until bake day. I would do most of the slicing, while helpers would do the rest of the work! We usually spread it out over several days, but one year we baked everything in one day - 4,300 cookies in 8 1/2 hours! Never did that again.:ohmy:

The food processor method, using chilled ingredients, I found best for making icebox cookies. The dough is chilled, when finished, and rolls up nicely in waxed paper, which I stack on sheets, and slide into the freezer. One day I'd do chocolate, another day spiced, and another day or two the simpler butter cookies, so I didn't mix things up.

While slicing all these cookies, I start out by marking 1/2" lines on the dough, using an 18" ruler, then, slice those in half for 1/4" cookies, and into thirds for these, and other thinner ones

The most popular cookie I came up with was a habanero gingersnap. I was looking at a favorite recipe, that had 1 tsp black pepper in it, and I thought, why not use habanero instead, due to its sweet flavor and aroma? Had to use less, of course, but it was an instant hit. Every year I'd make a hotter batch for a friend, who was one of my helpers for many years, and he liked food hotter than me!


1/2 cup(s) butter; chilled
1/2 cup(s) sugar
1 3/4 cup(s) flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4-3/8 tsp habanero powder
1/4 cup(s) light molasses
2 tsp water (would always be a little too dry, so I add this; 1 tb was too much)
2 1/2 oz almonds; sliced or slivered

A. Place the flour, sugar, soda, salt, and spices in a food processor, and process to mix thoroughly, Cut the butter into 8 pieces, place in FP, and pulse to break up the butter, then process until it is totally ground up with the dry ing., srcaping the bottom to get the flour out of the ridges. Pulse while drizzling in the molasses and water into the FP, and process until the dough almost forms a ball.. Dump into a bowl, and gently massage the nuts into the dough, then form it into a log, about 15" long, round or square, and wrap in waxed paper, then freeze. B. When ready to bake, remove from freezer, and preheat convection oven to 325º, regular oven to 350º. Slice log into 1/6" slices, place on parchment lined or lightly greased sheets, and bake 10 min, or until lightly browned. Remove to a rack to cool.


Dry molasses: use 26 g powdered molasses with the dry ing., then 1 egg for the liquid.

Using mixer instead of FP: Sift together the dry ingredients. Cream the butter (at room temp) and sugar; add molasses and beat just until mixed, then add dry ing. and beat on low until mixed. Stir in the nuts, then form into a 15" log (much stickier this way) in waxed paper, and freeze.

An unusual cookie I got the idea for when I saw rolled barley for sale at the Amish market - a place near me that has a great number of baking ingredients. So I substituted it for oatmeal in some recipes, and it was a hit! People would taste it, and know something was different, but didn't know what, and most liked the barley better! If you have access to it, try it.


3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups Rolled Barley (or oats, the original recipe)
1/2 cup Butter; unsalted, chilled
3/4 tsp Vanilla
1 large egg
2 oz walnuts; cut up med-fine

A. Combine barley and nuts in a large bowl, and mix well.
Combine flour, salt, soda, ginger, and sugars in FP and process to mix thoroughly. Add butter, cut up, and process to cut in completely. Beat egg and vanilla together, and pour into FP while pulsing. Scrape mixture onto barley (or oats) and nuts in the large bowl, and mix in by hand. Place on an 18" long piece of wax paper and form into a 3/4x3" log, about 15" long, wrap up, and slide a baking sheet under it. Freeze 4hrs., or overnight.

B. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º and line sheets with parchment. Slice frozen dough into 1/4" slices and palce 2" apart on sheets. Bake 12-14 min., or until well browned. Cool a min. or so, then remove to wire racks to cool.

The last, and probably the most unusual recipe I give you is a cookie that has popped amaranth in it, in place of nuts. Another one of those ingredients that nobody could figure out "what that flavor is", and it's visible, but looks almost like sesame seeds (those are in another favorite cookie of mine!).

Here is the recipe I used. It is a recipe that has 2 oz of slivered almonds, and I substituted a little over (there was about a tb extra, so I put it all in) 3/4 c popped amaranth for the almonds. I popped three 1/8 c batches of the amaranth, and it was just slightly over double what I started with. I figured a same sized recipe I use for sesame cookies used 3/4 c seeds, so I started from there.

Amaranth Icebox Cookies

1 3/4 cup(s) flour
1 1/4 cup(s) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt
8 tb butter; chilled
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
3/4 c popped amaranth (3/8 c unpopped)
(2 oz almonds; sliced or slivered - original recipe)

A. Combine flour, sugar, soda, and salt in food processor and process to mix. Cut butter up and add to FP; Pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Combine egg and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat to mix. Pour into FP while pulsing and process until a ball forms. Shape dough into a 2x2" log about 15 in. long, wrap in wax paper, and freeze.

B. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º (325º for convection). Remove dough from freezer and slice into 1/4" slices, and place 1" apart on greased or lined cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 min., or until lightly browned . Cool on wire racks.

Note: also good with macadamias or hazelnuts, and esp. with browned butter.

For popping the amaranth, heat a heavy saucepan up over med-high heat for a couple of minutes, until a drop of water tossed in evaporates on contact. Toss in 1/8 c, shake pan with a splatter screen over, until the popping is almost stopped - about 10 sec. Dump into a bowl, and heat briefly, and repeat. Let cool completely, before using.

Here's a tip about the amaranth: I have an older jar, which I wanted to use first, but it only popped about 50%, so I used the newer batch, which popped great. I remembered a trick with popcorn years ago, adding a little water to the container, shaking it to coat the corn, and letting it absorb the water, which is what makes it pop. So I added a tsp of water to the jar of amaranth (about 1 1/2 cups), and shook it to coat, then later I added another 1/2 tsp, which absorbed a little slower, but was totally dry by morning. Tonight I tried popping some, and almost 100% popped!

Here is another recipe; though not for cookies, it is a method to make the butter flavor in cookies absolutely incredible! I had seen browned butter used in cookies before, but this is a methodin which the moisture is added back into the butter, so that it can be used to replace the butter in a cookie recipe, using the exact weight. I used to make a few pounds of this every year!


1 lb unsalted butter; or more, as needed
6 tb milk; approx.

A. Heat the butter in a heavy 1 1/2-2 qt. saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the water evaporates, and more often when temp. starts rising over 250º. Heat until temperature reaches 290-300º, and the particles in the butter are browned, but not too dark. Pour into a metal bowl (place bowl on scale, and zero out, before placing butter in bowl) to stop the cooking, and cool to below 200º. Whisk in milk to bring weight of butter back to 1 lb, or whatever the original weight was. Cool to room temp, whisking occasionally, to emulsify the milk and fat. Refrigerate, and use as needed, in place of sweet butter.

Hope some of you find this useful!
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SO has already made anise cookies, egg nog cookies, pumpkin cookies and will make pecan balls next.
I am still making a list of possibilities...

Cranberry ginger shortbread
meringues with peppermint topping
Peanut butter for my DH as it's just not Christmas for him w/o
I made Xmas Biscotti today...

Joey...those are so festive and look delicious.

Wow, what great sounding Christmas cookies! Dave, thank you for taking the time to post your cookie recipes. You really go all out!

I'm not much of a baker, so I don't do much cookie baking for the holidays other than a few batches of cranberry (craisin) oatmeal cookies. I think my favorite holiday cookie is the pecan balls, as Andy posted. Gosh, I love those - they were my mom's favorite. I have bags of vacuum sealed pecans in the freezer so I think I'm going to give those a try this year to give out as gifts in addition to the cranberry oatmeal cookies. :chef:
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Nice biscotti salt & pepper!

Years ago, when butter prices went through the roof (remember that year), and I refused to buy it, I made a huge number of biscotti, because most had little or no butter in them. And that was the year that Maida Heatter published a new cookie book, and she had a chapter in it on biscotti!

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