Holiday Cookies: Christmas cookies and candy, easy to make

Great recipes for beginners and veteran bakers alike. Photo: Christmas plate of cookies and candy Photo: Claire Hickey

FORT WORTH, Texas, November 22, 2013 — It is time to get cracking with your Christmas and holiday baking!

Whether your tradition calls for cookies or candy for Christmas, it is time to pull out the old familial recipes that help us to celebrate this time of year.

Last year’s cookie column featured a spritz cookie and an iced chocolate cookie. This year’s delectable delights include a cookie-cutter recipe and two candy recipes.

I found the cookie recipe in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram several years ago. Originally printed for Valentine’s Day, I make them for all the holidays in all kinds of shapes. This is a great recipe for beginners and veteran bakers alike.

Pralines

The next two treats are now staples in my house every Christmas: toffee and pralines made in the microwave. The toffee recipe comes from a 1972 edition of “Betty Crocker.” My friend Carol gave me the praline recipe years ago.

Both delights are super easy to make too and don’t take much time. No candy thermometer required either.

Let us break out the mixer, measuring utensils and bowls and start creating some memories and some traditions.

Sugar Cookies (cookie cut-outs)

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Sift baking powder and salt into flour. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add flour, about a cup at a time, scraping the bowl well after each addition. Mix the last bit of flour by hand if necessary.

Roll dough to ½” thick and cut out, using various shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet You can use a pancake turner to put cookies on the pan as well as to take them off. Bake 10 minutes until the cookie base starts to get some color. Let sit on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before taking them off. Cool completely on cookie rack. Yield depends on what size cookie cutter used.

Cookie Icing: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 4-8 tablespoons milk, ¼ teaspoon vanilla or other flavor. Makes one cup icing.

****

Carol’s Microwave Pralines

1 ½ cups brown sugar

2/3 cup half and half

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cup pecans

Mix together all ingredients except for pecans. Microwave on high for 7 minutes, stir. Microwave 2-3 minutes more. Add pecans and stir until thick. Spoon onto waxed or parchment paper. Yield: 25

****

Toffee

Toffee treats Photo: Author

 

1 cup pecan pieces

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup butter

6 ounces milk chocolate chips

Butter square pan, 9X9X2”. Spread pecans in the pan* (I toast mine first). Heat butter and brown sugar to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, 7 minutes. Immediately spread mixture evenly over nuts in pan.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot mixture; place baking sheet over pan so contained heat will melt chocolate. Spread melted chocolate over candy. While hot, cut into 1 ½ inch squares. Chill until firm. Yield: 3 dozen candies.

*Line pan with foil for ease of removing toffee.

Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at The Washington Times, her blog Sustenance For The Mind, and the writing group she belongs to at Greater Fort Worth Writers Group. Join her on Facebook at facebook.com/Claire0803 and

Twitter http://twitter.com/Claire0803 

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Claire Hickey

Claire has held a Texas Cosmetology License, Certification in Surgical Technology and has decorated cakes professionally. She believes that life is a banquet to be experienced and wants to learn and do as much as possible while she’s here. This Stay @ Home Mom has always loved to write and thanks to the Communities @ The Washington Times has got her chance. Her curiosity and writing lead her to create her column based on “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought provoking pieces that enrich her readers. A proud member and Treasurer for the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group she is currently working on her first novel.  

 

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