With a delicious Thanksgiving dinner under my belt, my thoughts, of late, have turned to Christmas. Christmas gift shopping, Christmas decorating (I was certain I wasn't going to put up the tree this year . . . but I bet I will!), and Christmas cookie baking.
Again, I thought I would maybe not bake this year -- what will I do with all of those cookies? In years past, I've made between two and four different recipes, always including gingerbread dudes and my Grandma's Christmas Cookie recipe (frosted with peppermint buttercream and covered with sprinkles,) and possibly one or two new favorites.
This year, I have a problem. I have, um, ten recipes I'd like to try? Now, obviously, I'm not going to make all ten recipes. I do plan on boxing up some cookies to take to my coworkers, and will probably take cookies to Dan's family over Christmas, and my parents and Grandparents the weekend following Christmas, so I'll use up all of the cookies this year.
Still, ten recipes is a LOT of baking. The real trouble is, I've selected ten very diverse cookies . . . and I need YOUR help making a couple of cuts! I'd like to get the list down to six recipes, but I think I'd be willing to go up to eight if I just can't cut one or two options. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the following ideas -- ones that you think are must-keeps, ones that you think I should cut, even just rank them from best-sounding to ok-sounding!
APRICOT-ALMOND SANDWICH COOKIES
These are basically an almond windowpane cookie and apricot jam sandwich that you dip in a chocolate glaze. I've never made these before. Pros: They look absolutely stunning (a cover recipe from Eating Well a few Christmases ago,) and I love the flavor combination of apricots and almonds. They also call for whole-wheat flour. Cons: They take several steps (including making the dough, rolling and cutting (including little windows,) baking, cooling, filling, and dipping in the glaze;) and the glaze calls for corn syrup, albeit only 1 1/2 teaspoons.
BUTTERSCOTCH BLONDIES WITH CRANBERRIES AND PECANS
I made this recipe last weekend without eggs, with somewhat, erm, flat and sticky results. I'd like to give the recipe another go. Pros: The flavor of these bars was spot-on blondie fabulousness. Also, bar cookies are a snap to make -- they take almost no time. Cons: The cookies were a little bit sweet for my tastes (hopefully the addition of fresh cranberries will balance them a bit better.)
This is a slice-n-bake chai-spiced shortbread that I'm excited to try for the first time. Pros: The dough can be made ahead and frozen, which would make baking a snap on the day I plan to have my baking marathon, and I think the combination of spices sound delicious and interesting. Cons: They call for powdered sugar as the only sweetner, which is pretty processed, as well as white flour.
CHOCOLATE, COCONUT, AND ALMOND MERENGUES
Aren't merengues fun? Pros: Flavor combination first and foremost, with the portability and storability being close seconds. Cons: Merengues can be a bit persnicketty to prepare, and can go soft if stored for too long.
CURRIED SUNFLOWER BRITTLE
I'd like to try my hand at a little candy-making this year, and this was the most interesting-looking of the brittle recipes I have on hand. Pros: Brittles are pretty foolproof as long as you don't burn the sugar, and well, sweet curry and sunflower seeds just sound addictive, don't they? (I could buy some hot curry powder for extra-fun good times!) Cons: Calls for corn syrup.
I thought this recipe might be a nice alternative to gingerbread dudes this year -- less rolling/cutting/icing work, with some of the same flavors. Pros: Uses whole-wheat pastry flour and a whole host of amazing spices, as well as some molasses and candied ginger! Also, it's a drop cookie, so I could freeze the dough ahead of time. Cons: Calls for several ingredients I don't typically keep on hand, so they may end up hanging out in my cupboards for an indefinite period of time.
GRANDMA'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES
Is this one a gimme? Maybe not. Pros: Biscuit-like dough is less sweet than a traditional sugar cookie, so they balance all that frosting and sprinkle action quite well. They also look very festive when all decked out! Also, the dough can be made ahead and frozen. Cons: Rolling, cutting, baking, frosting, and sprinkling takes a long time. Also, should I veer from making the "same ol' thing?"
PINE NUT BISCOTTI
I haven't tried this recipe yet, but have made biscotti in the past, and was surprised at how easy they were to make. Pros: Pine nuts with a hint of lemon . . . need I say more? Biscotti also keep well. Cons: Double-baking can be quite time-consuming. Also calls for white flour.
PRINCESS TEA CAKES
Ohmigod do I love Russian Tea Cakes, but everyone makes them, right? Pros: Calls for whole-wheat pastry flour and canola oil (instead of butter.) Cons: Lotsa powdered sugar; lots of people make these, right? Also, the double-dipping in powdered sugar can be a bit time-consuming.
SWEET AND SALTY PEANUT CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
These sound decadent and incredible, and play up that whole sweet-salty trend (using coarse sea salt in the batter,) that's been going on lately. Pros: Drop cookie, so I could make the batter ahead of time, drop out the dough and freeze it, so it would be all ready to go on baking marathon day. Plus, sweet-salty chocolately peanutty goodness . . . yum. Cons: White flour; also, is it too much like an ordinary chocolate-chip cookie?
Ok. Let me know what you think!