But on Christmas Day, there were always homemade cookies and candies around the house and we could take whatever we wanted. Now, that was a real treat. Like you, I know that Christmas is about more than cookies, and that’s good. But this is a cookie blog, so we’re going to talk about cookies, ok?
Since writing this blog and running Dancing Bee Baking are now my job (yippee!) I can try out all kinds of recipes without feeling guilty. It’s no longer just goofing off, you see, now it’s my job! Lucky me, couldn’t find a better one.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of fun checking out the Christmas Cookie recipes on the web, in magazines and in cookbooks. I’ve found several that are new (or newish) to me that I’ve really enjoyed, so I’m sharing them with you today.
I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas. And that’s good. After all, the diversity in our world has brought a great wealth of knowledge, science, culture and even recipes. So if you don’t celebrate Christmas (or even if you do) please consider these recipes just plain celebration cookies. And may we all learn to lift our cookies to each other in high honor, respect and love, without regard to our specific religions and differences!
Now to the nitty gritty of my new-found cookie loves:
Gingerbread Boys (I call them “Folks”)- by Alex Guarneschelli; Redolent with the warm winter flavors of molasses, ginger, and get this: orange! Yes, there’s a hint of orange that perfectly offsets the ginger flavor. For this cookie, I also use Penzey’s Ground Ginger, which you can’t beat any place.
Do you get the idea? This cookie is WONDERFUL! As soon as my husband- oops, I mean Senior Cookie Tester – tried this one, he swooned. Of course, it would be better if he swooned over me, but I’ll take what I can get. I swooned too. Over him, of course, not this mind boggling luscious sexy cookie. Oops again!
This recipe is pretty easy to start with, but I’ve added a couple of tricks to make it even easier. Try it out and let me know what you think, ok? Because I think you’ll love it. And- the tassies do NOT require refrigeration and will stay fresh at room temperature in an air tight container for 2 weeks!
First, here's the downloadable pdf, which you can print.
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum (Rose’s Christmas Cookies pg 158)
This adaptation of this recipe uses mini-cupcake tins, since they are a tool that many households have handy. You can also use mini tart tins if you have them.
Makes 48 tassies
Ingredients – the Pastry
8 TB (113 g) Unsalted Butter
1 cup (145 g) All Purpose flour
¼ tsp Salt
3 oz (85 g) Cream Cheese
Ingredients – the Filling
1 Large (50g) Egg, lightly beaten
½ cup (170g) Dark Corn Syrup (or golden refiner’s syrup)
1/3 cup (80g) firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tb (28g) Butter, melted
1 tsp (4g) Vanilla Extract
1 cup (114g) Pecan Pieces – Trader Joe’s Pecan Pieces are the perfect size!
Ingredients - Optional Chocolate Topping
2 ounces (57g) Semisweet or bittersweet baking chocolate or good quality chocolate
2 tsp (4.5g) Flavorless vegetable oil
Make the Pastry
- Soften the butter and cream cheese by leaving out at room temperature for about 1 hour, or by heating briefly in the microwave. For these amounts, 15-20 seconds is enough in most microwaves. When you press your finger on the packaged butter, if you make a slight impression, the butter is probably ready.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until blended.
- On low speed, beat in the flour and salt until just incorporated. Don’t over beat or the dough will be less tender.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on plastic wrap or wax paper. Fold over the wrap and push the dough together into a smooth ball or patty.
- Remove the wrapping from the top of the dough ball.
- Using a teaspoon size scoop or measure, scoop a ball of dough 1 tsp in size, and roll it in your hands to make a ball shape.
- Alternatively: measure 7 g of dough and form into a ball in your hands.
- After shaping each dough ball, place it in a pocket of the ungreased mini cupcake tin.
- Using a lightly floured finger (I found my index finger was best) gently press the dough up onto the sides of the cupcake pocket to about ½ to ¾ of the height. Don’t press hard enough to make holes in the dough where the tin will show through, as the filling will stick to those spots.
- When each pocket has dough (you’ll use 4 tins with 12 pockets each or 2 of 24), place it in the refrigerator.
Preheat your oven to 350F with the oven racks where you know it bakes best!
- When your dough pockets are ready, make the filling by combining all filling ingredients except the pecans and stirring well. Once well blended, add the pecans and stir.
- Remove your mini-cupcake tins from the refrigerator and carefully fill each dough filled pocket with about 1 heaping teaspoon of filling. Be very careful not to get filling on the tin- keep it all inside the dough pockets to keep sticking and clean up to a minimum
- Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the trays way through the time.
- When pastry is just starting to brown and the filling is set but still soft, remove from the oven to a rack for cooling.
Optional: Make the Chocolate Drizzle Topping
- Break the chocolate into small pieces. I find the easiest way is to cut it with a large serrated knife and to make my cuts diagonally across the corners.
- Add the oil to the chocolate.
- Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
- Fill a large, flat frying pan with about 1/2” of water and place it on a burner. Turn the burner to low or low medium and heat the water until it is just barely simmering.
- Place the chocolate bowl in the water, being very careful to not let any water touch the chocolate.
- Let the chocolate sit in the nearly simmering water, stirring every so often. Again, make sure your implement doesn’t touch the water!
- When the chocolate is nearly completely melted, remove from the burner and stir gently until fully melted.
- Now you’re going to make a make-shift piping bag to decorate your tassies!
- Pour the chocolate into a quart sized freezer bag (zip lock type) and close the bag. Let it sit at room temperature and cool a bit, until the chocolate is slightly thickened and the bag is no longer too hot to handle.
- Carefully cut just a small piece from one corner of the bag. Remember, if you cut too much off, you can’t replace it! So go small. You can always cut again if you need a larger hole.
- Test your chocolate ‘piping bag’ on a paper towel by gently squeezing the chocolate so it ‘drizzles’ onto the towel. If you like what you see, then use your freezer bag ‘piping’ bag to drizzle over your tazzies.
If you haven’t done so by now- taste your work! Yum, yum! They’ll keep for 2 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.