In fact, this year, there are eleven plus fudge. I offer up ocular proof, plus a round-up of baking notes:
Starting from the top left and reading each row across
- Semisweet chocolate/pecan fudge
- Lemon cutouts with ginger glaze. Cut-outs painted by the kids. Ginger glaze new this year
- My first attempt at biscotti (not entirely successful). Dried cherries soaked in Armagnac and almonds
- Cocoa rum balls
- Classic peanut butter cookies
- Oysters (this year in heart shape). Toasted hazelnut spritz with bittersweet chocolate filling
- Green (and minty) tree-shaped spritz
- Pecan sandies
- Lime cookies with lemon sugar dusting (new this year)
- Classic chocolate chip cookies
- Earthquakes (my kids’ name for chocolate crinkles – soft, moist, and very chocolaty
- Linzer cookies – lightly spiced cut-outs with seedless raspberry jam filling
I’ve linked to or highlighted the source of most recipes. Here are some notes:
Fudge – Absolutely the easiest thing to make if you’ve got a microwave and a microwave safe bowl. We make it last to use up any leftover nuts (and because more than half this household is made up of chocolate fiends). Have a significant other who is mad for chocolate? Impress her/him with this even if your cooking skill so far is limited to opening a jar of peanut butter.
Lemon cutouts with ginger glaze – I start with the basic sugar cut out recipe in Joy, but add lemon zest. I usually frost these with confectioners sugar to which I add lemon juice until it’s paint consistency plus colors. This year since I had another cookie that ended up being more lemon than lime, so I went looking for a flavor we hadn’t done yet in this year’s cookie crop. I thinned the confectioners sugar with ginger juice (grate a thumb-sized piece of ginger onto a paper towel, then squeeze tightly to extract the juice). Wow. A do-again to be sure!
Biscotti – This piece looks good, and they taste wonderful. But I added whole toasted almonds plus the cherries, and the dough proved too crumbly to make many pretty pieces. But we’ll enjoy eating the crumbles! I’ll keep hunting for a better biscotti-with-stuff-in-it recipe.
Rum balls – This year we did the classic cocoa/vanilla wafers/pecans one. I’ve tried other combos but I like it the best. This is another no-bake cookie that’s difficult to mess up, provided you make it at least a week before you serve it so that the flavors mellow.
Classic peanut butter cookies – In this house we use chunky peanut butter. Heresy, but heresy with more texture.
Oysters – I’ve gone on about these before. They’re one of the three “must haves” along with peanut butter, and chocolate chip.
Green mint trees – I got a last minute call from one of my third-grader’s “room moms” alerting me to a party this week and requesting cookies with no nuts in them. While anything produced in my kitchen won’t pass muster for a nut allergic kid, there are no allergies in the class. So I made plain spritz trees, starting with the recipe in Joy of Cooking, adding a touch of mint flavoring and the lurid color. It’s not as forgiving a spritz recipe as my own Oyster one, and the tree shape isn’t one of the more reliable dies, but we got a batch done that will (in its entirety) go to school on Monday, leaving no memories behind other than a lingering ghoulishly green shadow on my fingernails.
Pecan Sandies – A family recipe. I’ll share this one in its entirety later this week. My variation on the thing is to add the half-pecan to the top before baking. An easy and tasty cookie from a recipe with a huge yield.
Lime cookies – I started with the King Arthur recipe, but could not find sour salt (citric acid) locally – my favorite baking supply source having closed forever last month. Horrors. Instead I improvised. Lemonheads candy is mostly sugar and citric acid. So I ground up a bag into a powder, and used it to dust the cookies. It worked extremely well – nice and lemony tart. But it did overwhelm the lime-nature of the cookie itself, and I find that the lemonheads dust is more of a humectant than is plain powdered sugar. The cookies need to be stored with air circulation, otherwise they get sticky and lump together. (I’ll probably roll them one last time in plain powered sugar before sending them on their way).
Classic chocolate chips – the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse bag, although (another heresy) – I use Ghiardelli semisweet chips instead because I like them better.
Earthquakes – I was introduced to these the year before last by a good pal (Hi, Kathryn!) I’m not using the recipe she sent to me, mostly because I know it’s filed here on my desk and saved securely (it was VERY important that I do so). Unfortunately, it’s saved so securely that I can’t find it and am too ashamed to admit it. So I went looking for something equivalent to the one she sent me. This one is pretty good, but hers was better.
Linzer cookies – Nope, you don’t need a fancy set to make these. The set makes it easier and the cookies prettier, but it’s not necessary. I happened to have a fluted circle cutter on hand, and a mini leaf cutter. But you could use a water glass to cut the big circle and a top from a screw bottle of water or soda to make the smaller window. This dough is pretty easy to handle for a roll-out. And the taste is fabulous. More work than most, but according to the Resident Male – worth the effort.
Later this week – ultimate holiday luck, the sandies recipe, plus some actual knitting content.