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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Swedish Peppar KaKar

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DAY 3: Swedish Peppar KaKar (soft, mild gingerbread)

These are not your average gingerbread cookies. They are so much better! The traditional gingerbread flavors are all there, but there is only a little bit of molasses, which gives them a very mild flavor. Bake them for just a short time, and they are soft and wonderful.

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These cookies are fun to make with these ninja cookie cutters. You can get fancy with the icing, but I usually just pipe a few details.

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We also love to use our tiny gingerbread man and angel cookie cutters for these. They are only about 1 ½-inches tall. But be careful, they are very addictive. And when you can pop a whole cookie in your mouth in one shot, it is easy to talk yourself into “just one more.”

Swedish Peppar KaKar

You could pipe an icing around the edges or to make faces on these as well, but they are great just on their own. We end up with enough other cookies filled or topped with frosting that it is nice to have a less sweet, but super flavorful “plain” cookie.

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My 2009 gingerbread helpers! I wish I could still get them to cooperate like this in the kitchen.

ORIGINAL BLOG POSTS:
(2009): Mini Gingerbread Men/Angels
(2013): Ninja-bread Men

RECIPE:

Swedish Peppar KaKar

ninjabread-men-3Mini gingerbread 2

(soft, mild gingerbread cookies)

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp molasses

Combine dry ingredients; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend in egg and molasses. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Add a little bit more flour (up to 1/4 cup), if necessary, to get a dough that is soft, but not sticky.

Chill dough for 1 hour. Roll to about 1/8” and cut into small gingerbread men and angels (or ninja-bread men).

Bake at 350°F for 6 to 8 minutes for small shapes (8-9 minutes for larger cookies). Don’t overbake, or they will become crispy instead of soft. Cool.

Decorate with Royal Icing, if desired.

Makes about 60 mini gingerbread men or 30 ninja-bread men.

Royal Icing

2 Tbs meringue powder
scant 1/4 cup water
½ lb powdered sugar
½ tsp light corn syrup

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)

Mix in the corn syrup. Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.

To store for later use: cover with plastic wrap touching the icing and refrigerate.

NOTE: This makes “stiff” icing which is perfect for piping details. If you want to flood (totally frost) your cookies first, double the recipe above. Reserve some stiff icing to outline and pipe details. To fill in your cookies, first tint the remaining icing with food coloring.Then add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. Outline the cookies first with stiff icing, then flood the center with the thinner icing. Wait several hours until icing has completely hardened before piping on additional details over the flooded icing.

(Royal Icing from Bake at 350)

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

Lofthouse Cookies 4

DAY 2: Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

Lofthouse Cookies: those pillowy-soft cookies in the grocery store with a frosting that hardens just enough to be able to stack them. The homemade version are even better. And much easier to make than rolled and frosted sugar cookies.

Lofthouse Cookies 1

To frost them, simply hold them in your hand and dip them upside down into a bowl of icing. Shake on some candied sprinkles, let them set for an hour and you are ready to go. You can use different flavored extracts (vanilla, almond, orange, peppermint, etc.) for different flavored frostings.

Lofthouse Cookies 5

ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2014): Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

RECIPE:

Lofthouse Style Frosted Christmas Cookies

  • Servings: about 3 dozen
  • Print

Lofthouse Cookies 1

Cookies:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix into butter and sugar in mixing bowl. If the dough is too sticky to roll into balls, refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes.

With hands, roll dough into 1” balls for small cookies, slightly larger for larger cookies. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten dough balls slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 7-9 minutes. Do not overbake.

Glaze Frosting:
6 Tbs butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or ½ tsp almond, ½ tsp orange, or ¼ tsp peppermint) extract
3-4 drops gel food coloring
Candy Sprinkles

Place butter and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds, until butter melts. Use a whisk to mix in powdered sugar. If you are making more than one color or flavor of frosting, divide frosting into separate bowls. Stir in extract (if you want to use white icing, use a clear vanilla or other flavored extract). Mix in food coloring.

Dip tops of cooled cookies in warm glaze and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle immediately with candy sprinkles (the glaze starts to set fast: dip one cookie, then add sprinkles, then dip another cookie, etc). If glaze gets too thick, heat in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Allow glaze to set on cookies for about 1 hour before storing cookies.

To freeze: Freeze cookies in single layer and then place in container and store in freezer. Thaw cookies in a single layer.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

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DAY 1: Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

Happy December and the first day of No Empty Chairs’ Tenth Annual “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies”. This year, I am reaching back into the blog-files to share twelve of our family’s very favorite Christmas cookies.

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First up is a shortbread style cookie studded with candied cherries and pecans. This is a great make-ahead dough that you can pull out and slice anytime. Bake just a few at a time, or a whole batch.

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Roll the dough into a log and it can be stored in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake.

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Use a sharp knife to slice dough into rounds that are about 3/8” thick.

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ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2011): Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

Christmas is a wonderful season to both spend time with family and loved ones and to reach out beyond our normal sphere of influence. See below for ideas on how you can light the world in all areas of your life.

#LightTheWorld

Light the World 2018

 

RECIPE:

Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

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1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup pecan halves
2 cups red and green candied cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cream butter and powdered sugar; blend in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour and then add pecans and cherries. Chill dough for 1-2 hours. Shape into 2  logs with about 2” diameter. Roll in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into slices about 3/8” thick and bake for 13-15 minutes. Do not let cookies brown.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

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9th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies Recap

Here is a list of the twelve cookies from this year. I hope that you all enjoy the rest of this Christmas season with family and friends.

Scroll to the bottom for links to the previous 8 years of cookies.

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DAY 1: Almond Toffee Sandies

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies_thumb[2]

DAY 2: Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon-Squares-1_thumb

DAY 3: Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares

Roasted Spiced Pecans_thumb[1]

DAY 4: Roasted Spiced Pecans

Chocolate Thumbprints_thumb[2]

DAY 5: Chocolate Thumbprints with Homemade Caramel Filling

Chewy-Pecan-Cheesecake-Cookies_thumb[3]

DAY 6: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

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DAY 7: Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

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DAY 8: German Lebkuchen

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DAY 9: Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

Salted Caramel Bars_thumb[2]

DAY 10: Salted Caramel Bars

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 2_thumb[3]

DAY 11: Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread 2

DAY 12: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Lots More Christmas Cookies and Treats:

1st Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

2nd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

3rd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

4th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)

5th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2013)

6th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2014)

7th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2015)

8th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2016)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 2

DAY 11: Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Rich, dark chocolate cookies studded with chocolate chips. Cream cheese (I think this may be a theme this year) keeps them soft and chewy. For the chocolate lover.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 1

RECIPE:

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 2

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
½ cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir together the flour, cocoa, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Beat into wet ingredients. Mix in the chocolate chips. Chill dough for 20-30 minutes.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until barely set. Cookies will continue to set as they cool.  Cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Salted Caramel Bars

Salted Caramel Bars

DAY 10: Salted Caramel Bars

A tender bar cookie with a sweet layer of salted caramel. You can use caramel sauce from a jar, or try the homemade recipe below. You will never go back after trying it! The salted caramel recipe below makes more than you will need for the bar cookies, but I’m sure you can find other uses for the leftovers (apples, ice cream, pies, your finger).

RECIPE:

Salted Caramel Bars

Makes 16 bars

Salted Caramel Bars

(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup  Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” square baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil; set aside.

Place the melted butter in a large bowl and whisk in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until well mixed.

Press half of the dough into the prepared pan. Pour the salted caramel sauce onto the center of the dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about a ½-inch of space around the edges. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread  until the caramel is covered.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a thin coating of caramel.

Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into 16 squares and serve.

 

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
1 – 1 ½ tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (and/or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)

Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan). Cook over medium heat until sugar just begins to melt. Stir gently, trying to keep sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts completely and is a medium amber color (about 350°F if you use an instant-read thermometer). Reduce heat to low and quickly whisk in butter chunks, stirring constantly.

Stir in cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel immediately into a glass jar or heat-safe bowl to cool. Do NOT scrape sides or bottom of the pan with a spatula. If you do, you are likely to get sugar crystals into your nice smooth caramel. If the caramel has formed crystals while cooking, you can pour it from the pan through a fine sieve into the jar to remove any crystals before cooling.

Caramel can be kept in a covered jar at room temperature for several weeks.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Lemon Cake-Mix Cookies

Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

DAY 9: Lemon Cake-Mix Cookies

A soft, lemony, slightly gooey cookie.

We make a similar cookie with a white cake mix that we call Snowball Cookies, but there was just something wrong with calling these “Yellow Snow”- ball Cookies.

This is a great recipe for kids and beginning bakers, as there is minimal measuring. Kids are also great helpers when it comes to rolling things in powdered sugar. Just plan a little extra clean-up time if you let them help with that step.

RECIPE:

Lemon Cake-Mix Cookies

Makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies

Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp fresh lemon zest, optional
1 box lemon cake mix
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and lemon zest and then cake mix. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Place about ½ cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls (about 1” in diameter) and then roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust cooled cookies with additional sifted powdered sugar.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: German Lebkuchen

German Lebkuchen

DAY 8: German Lebkuchen

A traditional German Christmas cookie. These cookies have a soft cake-like texture and similar spices as gingerbread. Iced with a sweet lemony glaze.

RECIPE:

German Lebkuchen

German Lebkuchen

(recipe adapted from One Acre Vintage)

½ cup honey
½ cup white sugar
2 Tbs butter,melted
2 large eggs
3 Tbs orange marmalade
½ tsp almond extract
2 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1  tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cardamom

Glaze:
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs cream
about 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a mixing bowl, beat honey, sugar and butter until light and creamy. Beat in eggs, marmalade, and almond extract.

Stir together the remaining dry ingredients and beat into wet mixture until smooth.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Spoon glaze over cooled cookies.

Glaze:
Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add more sugar until you reach desired consistency.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

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DAY 7: Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

An uncomplicated cookie with a great almond flavor and a glaze that sets firm enough that you can stack the cookies. And no piping skills required.

Bake these until they are barely done to keep them soft.

NOTE: These are almond flavored “Butter Cookies” not “Almond Butter” (cousin to peanut butter) Cookies.

RECIPE:

Glazed Almond Butter Cookies

Makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies

Almond Butter Cookies 1

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Glaze Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mats.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract, beating until well mixed.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually mix into wet ingredients. Chill dough for one hour.

Roll dough into 1” balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 8 minutes; do not overcook. Let cookies cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting with the glaze.

Glaze Frosting:

6 Tbs butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla (or ½ tsp almond) extract
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
3-4 drops gel food coloring

Place butter and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds, until butter melts. Stir in extract (if you want to use white icing, use a clear vanilla or other flavored extract). Use a whisk to mix in powdered sugar. Tint with desired gel food coloring.

Spread tops of cooled cookies with warm glaze and place on a sheet of waxed paper. If glaze gets too thick, heat in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Allow glaze to set on cookies for at least one hour before storing cookies.

To freeze: Freeze cookies in single layer and then place in a container and store in freezer. Thaw cookies in a single layer.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

DAY 6: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

These cookies were some of my favorites growing up. They are a chewy cookie with lots of nuts and a slight tang from the cream cheese.

They are also egg-free if you are baking for people with allergies.

Thanks Mom!

RECIPE:

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and beat well. Stir in nuts.

Shape dough  into 1” balls. Place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack.

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