(UPDATE: Shout out to Dan's Aunt Mary! Unbeknownst to me, she's been following my blog and Christmas cookie debate since Thanksgiving, and I've added links to my recipes on this post, since she's faced with the challenge of baking for her mother-in-law's 35 closest friends! Go Aunt Mary!)
'Tis the season for dessert after every meal, including breakfast! My selection:
Anise Tea Crescents
These are such a nice surprise -- good anise flavor without being overpowering, and they weren't nearly as fussy to shape as I thought they were going to be. Nice change from the predictable (yet very tasty) Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake.
Mexican Chocolate Cookies
I chanced making these again this year, since I wasn't totally pleased with them last year. Important lessons learned this year: DON'T freeze the dough balls before baking, (the cookies dried out too much last year,) DON'T overbake (again, too dry last year,) and I also doubled the amount of pepper (both types) called for in the original recipe. Wahoo! That's what I'm sayin'! Spicy, rich goodness!
German Honey Cookies
I haven't made these in years, and am very glad to return to this recipe. Dan LOVES these -- they have a good honey flavor, without being oppressive. You sort of have to stop and think while you are chewing, to figure out what you are tasting. A nice, soft, chewy, homey, satisfying cookie.
Crowd-pleaser, and dead easy. Recipe from Betty Crocker is as follows: combine 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook to "hard crack" stage (300 - 310 degrees Farenheight.) Add 1 cup chopped pecans, then quickly pour into a very well-greased pan. (I own an 8-inch square silicone pan purchased especially for candy-making. Very handy. Saves lots of time in not having to pick bits of greased foil from the bottoms of things.) Top with 1/2 cup chocolate chips, and cover until the chocolate is melted. Spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee, and cool. Remove from pan and cut into small bites. Yum!
Lemon-Rosemary Butter Cookies
A repeat from last year, since I can't get enough of the slightly-sweet, slightly-lemony, slightly-pine-y flavor and dry, almost sandy texture. Very much a "grown-up" cookie, I think!
my grandma's Christmas cookies with buttercream and sprinkles
Smells, looks, and tastes like childhood. I make vanilla-mint buttercream every year, but the traditional vanilla or almond-flavored frostings are also delicious.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
I doubled this recipe, and have an army of ginger-vegans! (Except there's an egg white in the decorating icing. Sorry, vegan police.) Tasty, spicy, molasses-y goodness! I love gingerbread people, but until now, had not found a recipe for gingerbread dough that I actually liked eating. (They are always too dry or too sweet, if you ask me.) Soft and chewy but still sturdy, these dudes rock!
Yummy Molasses Crackles
I love molasses spice cookies so much, I just HAD to make these this year, even though the gingerbread people have all the same flavors. Chopping the candied ginger requires a little extra work, but it's SO worth it. A "light" cookie that certainly doesn't taste like it sacrifices a thing! Good job, Eating Well!
Oh yeah . . . and don't forget about the caramels, too!