Christmas cookies made simple



Baking cookies is a holiday tradition for many families. Come the holiday season, many homes are filled with the inviting scents of vanilla, cinnamon and melting chocolate.

Baking cookies can be a social occasion in which family members and friends gather to create recipes passed down through generations. Or baking can be a solitary venture in which cookies are prepared and packaged as holiday gifts. Either way, people who bake during the holiday season understand that making Christmas cookies can be a time-consuming, yet rewarding, process.

This year, holiday bakers can embrace a number of time-saving tips and tricks to reduce the amount of time they spend in the kitchen and possibly even improve on existing recipes.

• Use a cookie mix. Who says you have to toil and make cookies from scratch? It’s the thought that counts, and any number of creative recipes can begin by utilizing a premade baking mix. These mixes already have most of the dry cookie ingredients sifted together, including flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. All you have to do is add the wet ingredients and any extra embellishments to make the mix your own. If mixes are too much work, purchase refrigerated or frozen cookie dough. Include your own add-ins, such as nuts, white chocolate chips, bits of dried fruit, or crumbled candy canes, to give the premade dough a unique flavor.

• Prepare ahead. Many cookie dough recipes can be made and stored for later use. In fact, refrigerating a log of cookie dough can make it easier to cut or handle later on. Spread out the bulk of your baking over two days and you might feel less taxed.

• Try a no-bake recipe. Creative culinary experts continually reveal their clever tricks, and many of these include no-bake versions of favorite desserts. No bake cookies come together in a matter of minutes, but still employ a host of delicious ingredients. Recipes frequently feature similar ingredients to traditional cookies, but rely on chocolate, honey or peanut butter as the setting agent to keep them together. Bakers may also like not having to turn on their ovens.

• Recycle leftover cookies. If you have a fair amount of cookies remaining or several that broke apart or do not look good enough to serve, never fear. Such cookies can be used as part of another delicious dessert. Grind cookies into crumbs that can serve as a pie crust for pudding pies or no-bake cheesecakes, or mix cookie crumbs with cake frosting or a nut butter and roll into balls. Dunk the balls into melted chocolate, add a lollipop stick and make delicious cookie pops.

Cookies may be holiday traditions, but there are ways to reduce the amount of work and time required of holiday baking.

Source: Metro Creative

3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix peanut butter,
sugar, and egg together in a bowl using
an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Roll mixture into small balls and arrange
on a baking sheet; flatten each with a
fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake in
the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool
cookies on the baking sheet for 2 minutes
before moving to a plate.

Russian Tea Cakes

1 cup butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325°. Mix all ingredients.
Roll into 1” balls and place on cookie
sheet. Bake for 30 min. Roll in powdered
sugar while warm and again after they
have cooled.

No Bake Cookies

1¾ cups white sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar,
milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil,
and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from
heat, and stir in peanut butter, oats, and
vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax
paper. Let cool until hardened.

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