Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and while it’s not a cookie holiday, it does make me think about all the cookie-ish things and people I’m thankful for. You are at the top of the list- the very nice and kind friends who put up with my rambles here on the blog!
So in thanks for the gift of your readership, I have 3 things for you: 1- some tips about holiday cookies to make holiday life easier for you, 2- a great and easy cookie recipe and 3- a variation of that recipe perfect for the Holidays.
First Thank You Gift: Let’s start with the tips. If you’re like me, there’s something about the holidays that just makes me bake (even if I weren’t always baking anyway). The Christmas music at the malls, the lights on neighbor’s houses, and some idealistic internal voice all conspire to spin me into a baking frenzy. By that I mean sunrise to sunset, day in and day out, with dishwater hands and sore feet, and a grin on my face the entire time.
In this frenzy of baking for neighbors, friends and family, here are a few tips to make life a bit easier:
1. Freeze, freeze, freeze. No, not you, silly, your cookie dough! Almost all cookies taste better if the dough is held for at least a few days before baking. You can’t tell the difference in most cases even if it’s frozen for a couple of months before baking. Imagine it’s time to put together gifts for the neighbors. You go to the freezer, pull out zip lock bags of cookie balls, bake a few sheets of several different types, and voila! Your gifts ready for delivery! Alternatively, you can bake for 3 days and give people stale cookies. You pick.
- To freeze cookie balls, scoop your balls, roll by hand when called for in the recipe, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. You’re not baking them right now, so don’t worry if they touch each other, put them as close together as you can. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2 to 24 hours. Take out the cookie balls, put them in a zip lock bag, mark it with the name of the cookie, baking time and temperature, and the date. Freeze until ready to use. Add approximately 5 minutes to the baking time.
- Special Note: You can freeze a batch of chocolate chip cookies then take them out as you want them. Bake 2 at a time if the mood strikes! Just think, a continuous supply of fresh baked cookies! Wow.
- Cookies usually stay fresh best when packaged well, and zip lock does that best. And they have holiday bags! So, make it inexpensive, easy and pretty and put your holiday cookies or your holiday plate of cookies in a zip lock. (Note, they do not sponsor this blog, nor do I get anything from them, I just love zip lock!)
Second Thank You Gift: Sugar Jumbles Recipe: If cookies tells stories, the cookie I’m sharing with you today has many chapters. I’m sure this recipe came from a cookbook or magazine some many years ago, but that’s lost in the fog of time because it’s been handed down and across in my family for probably 60 years. To me the recipe means family. It calls to mind my Aunts Betty and Dodie, family events and holidays together and good food in all its forms.
What is this great cookie? We call it Sugar Jumbles. A basic drop cookie flavored with vanilla, it can vary with your mood and pantry. If you use butter, the cookie is softer and a bit chewy. If you make it with shortening, it will be taller and firmer. Either works. Or half and half. They can be large or small, frosted or plain, just use your imagination. Try using lemon extract and zest, adding some chopped nuts, raisins or try them just the way they are.
You’ll find the Sugar Jumbles recipe at the end of the post.
And it’s easy peasy:
1. For a single batch of Holiday Jumbles, crush about 2 ounces of candy canes. That’s often 4 candy canes. To crush, remove wrappings, place the canes in a heavy plastic bag (such as a zippered freezer bag) and take out your frustrations with a meat tenderizing mallet or hammer. Be sure to let your family know ahead of time, so they don’t wonder what on earth is going on when they hear the banging! Unless of course they’re used to you banging out your frustrations on the meat, or whatever….
2. After mixing the flour into the recipe, add the crushed candy canes and combine. Just be careful not to over mix!
3. Continue with the recipe as written.
4. After the cookies cool, you can add a glaze and more candy cane crumbles. For the glaze mix powdered sugar, try ½ cup, with enough water to make the right consistency- not so thin in runs off, but thin enough to not over power the cookie. If you’d like to, add just ¼ tsp of vanilla extract. Using a knife or small offset spatula, put a dab of icing on the top of each cookie. Before the icing dries, sprinkle on a few candy cane crumbles.
Well, now that we’re in the holiday mood, I think I’ll go dream of Holiday Jumbles and Pumpkin Pie (my Thanksgiving favorite). Until I see you again,
You can download the recipe for printing here:
Sugar Jumbles Base Recipe
From Dancing Bee’s Aunt Betty, 1962
1 Batch makes 18-20 cookies using standard cookie scoop
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup AP flour
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Measure all ingredients ahead of time. You can measure the butter and sugar directly into the mixing bowl. Keep egg and vanilla in separate containers. Measure the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to distribute the ingredients and aerate the flour.
After measuring ingredients, preheat the oven to 375F. Line 2 baking trays (for single batch) with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar by mixing at low speed in stand mixer just until combined. Turn off the mixer and add the vanilla. Mix at medium (4 on Kitchen Aid) for about 2 minutes until well blended and lighter. Scrape bowl and beater as needed.
Add the egg, mixing just until combined and scraping after each addition.
Turn off the mixer, add the flour mixture and beat on slow just until most of the flour has combined with the dough. Stop the mixer, remove the bowl. Scrape the bowl and blend in any remaining flour by hand.
Scoop using a standard cookie scoop or two spoons, placing about 2” apart on the cookie sheets.
Bake until lightly browned at the bottom and the tops are almost firm.
Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack. Eat and enjoy!
+ Replace butter with shortening or ½ and ½; add mini chocolate chips; add almond extract
+ Mix in about 2 oz of crushed candy cane to a single batch of Sugar Jumbles after the flour is mixed in. Bake as instructed above. Mix ½ cup powdered sugar with just enough water to make it soft but not drippy. Optionally, add ¼ tsp of Vanilla Extract. Using a small offset spatula or a table knife put a small dab on the top of each cookie (about the size of a quarter). Sprinkle additional crushed candy cane on the glaze before it hardens.