Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Christmas Cookies Recap

As you know, I recently got done sharing all of the Christmas treats I made for last year’s cookie trays. Last weekend, I spent an entire day baking cookies for our family, neighbors, and friends. It was exhausting and stressful, but it was also incredibly rewarding when Andrew, Will and I delivered overflowing trays of goodies to everyone earlier this week.

Rather than saving the cookie recipes to share with you next year, I thought I’d go ahead and write about them now. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons: 1. Because I’ve talked to some people who aren’t doing their holiday baking until tomorrow (Christmas Eve), and this may give those people a few yummy last minute ideas; and 2. Because I didn’t have the time to take a picture of each cookie individually. Frankly, while I was baking these cookies, I didn’t even have time to stop and eat. (Well, aside from the baked goods and cookie dough I was sampling all day long.)

Before I started baking last Sunday morning, I wrote out my agenda on my trusty chalkboard door:

By the end of the day, all of these items except for two were crossed off – and one additional item was added (but I’ll get to that in a minute). My failures were the peppermint fudge, which never sat up for me properly, and the soft sugar cookies. I tried baking three different batches of them, but they came out incredibly dry and sort of flavorless each time.

The rest, though, were absolutely delicious, and so far I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback on all of these things. I already told you about the hot cocoa mix and dipping spoons and the hot chocolate popcorn. Here’s the rest of what I made:

Buckeyes and pretzel turtles: These are yearly staples for me, and they always go over well with everyone. This year my sister dipped the Buckeyes for me, and she did a much better job than I ever do, so that’s totally her job from now on.

Mint chocolate chip cookie dough truffles: Everyone has loved these so far. More than one person has told me that it’s so fun to bite into a truffle and see something that looks like mint chocolate chip ice cream on the inside. They’re pretty tasty, but they don’t have quite enough mint flavor for me. Next time, I’d add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract.

Nutter Butter snowmen: Are these little guys cute or what?! I usually make Santas, but thought these snowmen would be a fun change. They’re basically candy, coated with candy, and decorated with more candy. Needless to say, they’ve been a huge hit, and well worth the time it took to make them (nearly two hours for one package of Nutter Butters)!

Rugelach: This was the first time I’ve ever made rugelach, so I picked a popular recipe that was pretty highly rated and sounded simple enough for me to make. Well, I must have good recipe-picking skills, because these were perfect. The dough is so lovely and flaky and not too sweet, and the filling of walnuts, chocolate chips, and cinnamon sugar is just absolutely scrumptious. Everyone loves these, and I’ve had multiple requests for the recipe.

Chocolate caramel cookies: These are similar to the Snickers cookies I’ve made before, except the cookie base is chocolate and they’re stuffed with a Rolo instead of a mini Snickers bar. These cookies are rich and sweet, with a nice caramel surprise in the middle.

Lofthouse sugar cookie bars with easy buttercream frosting: When the soft sugar cookies failed me thrice, I did a quick online search for something sugar cookie-ish that didn’t involve a dough that I could make quickly. Thankfully, I had everything on hand to make these. And although they were a last-minute addition to the cookie trays, they’re actually my favorite thing I made this year. They taste exactly like a Lofthouse cookie, with a sweet, silky frosting and the soft crunch of holiday sprinkles. LOVE.

Oatmeal butterscotch coconut cookies: Annie said these are the best oatmeal scotchies she’s ever tried, and I agree. They’re definitely the best ones I’ve ever had. The shredded coconut and toffee bits just take them to a completely new level. I only had quick-cooking oats on hand, so that’s what I used for the cookies, and they turned out just fine. This is one loaded, delicious cookie.

Red velvet crinkles: These cookies start with cake mix, so immediately I love them, because I love easy things like cake mixes when I’m baking cookies for AN ENTIRE DAY. I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the mix and left out the lemon zest, but otherwise made the cookies as indicated. They came together in minutes, and they’re so festive and pretty, with that familiar red velvet flavor everyone loves.

Hot chocolate triple chip cookies: Joe had his eye on these cookies before they’d even been baked, when they were still just raw balls of cookie dough sitting on baking trays. They were the first thing he tried when presented with all of my day’s efforts, and were definitely his favorite of all of this year’s offerings. These cookies are gigantic and rich. You can really taste the hot chocolate flavor in them. I loved them, too, but because I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate chips in cookies, I’ll probably replace those with another cup of milk chocolate chips when I make these again (and I will, because they’re almost gone, and Joe will soon be clamoring for another batch, I have no doubt).

Chocolate cherry blossoms: This is a change-up of the traditional peanut butter blossom. It’s a cherry cookie instead, with both cherry juice and chopped maraschino cherries in the base. I really liked these cookies. The texture is really soft, and the cherry flavor is definitely there, and strong enough that the Hershey’s Kiss doesn’t overpower it. I thought these were definitely the prettiest cookies of all the types I made.

Are you exhausted, just reading about all of this? I was definitely exhausted by the time I finished baking all of it on Sunday evening! It was so worth it, though, to be able to give plates of delicious baked goods to the people I care about. And even while I’m recovering from all that baking, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to make next year…

I want to wish all of you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope your holiday is merry, bright, peaceful, and spent as every holiday should be: with the people you love the most in the world.


amanda @ fake ginger said...

That's quite a list! Everything looks great! I've got soft-frosted cookies on my list but now I'm rethinking it. Maybe I'll just do regular sugar cookies with royal icing. :/

Katie said...

You're my baking hero. I baked four or five different things over a course of two days and I was worn out. I didn't make half of the stuff I had planned and bought for because I gave up! LOL