Holiday Reader Recipe: Julia Dragun's Christmas cookie starter mix

Reader Julia M. Dragun's Christmas Cookie tradition starts with a cookie starter mix found in a bag of Pillsbury flour in 1973. Photo: Pillsbury Flour Cookies / Image courtesy of http://www.pillsbury.com

Reader Julia M. Dragun shares her secret for Christmas cookies to share with family or to create personal gifts of yumminess. They all begin with a basic cookie MIX that can be made ahead and use as a starter for each recipe.

“I have had this recipe since 1973 when I was still in college. It was in a 5-pound bag of Pillsbury Flour.  I started baking cookies every Christmas. No matter where I was, I would bake and send care packages with Christmas cookies to my friends and loved ones.  

Young cookie bakers

Young cookie bakers

Over the years as my career took off, it was more and more challenging to get the baking in, but this recipe never failed to let me bake a different pan of cookies every night without completely trashing my kitchen.  Making the foundation cookie mix would let me change the recipe every night to create a new batch of cookies.    

For the past 6-7 years I have started another tradition with my family, decorating a gingerbread house.  Depending on how many of the cousins were around it was one or two items each to decorate.”

Make ahead Christmas Cookie MIX

Ingredients:

1½ cups butter  softened
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups Pillsbury’s Best or all purpose flour 

Method:

In a very large bowl, combine butter, salt, and baking powder; using electric mixer, blend well.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; even off. (Do not scoop or sift flour.)

Add flour to butter mixture;  blend until fine crumbs form, scraping bowl often. Store tightly covered in refrigerator up to 4 weeks. 8 cups mix

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups MIX

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

6 oz. package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate cookies (may also you peanut butter chips, white chocolate or dark chocolate chips)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tbs butter softened

1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 375.

Dip measuring cup into cookie mix; level off.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate pieces and nuts; blend until smooth.

Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls two inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 7 to 14 minutes until light golden brown. 

Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet. About 3 dozen cookies.

Almond Butter Sticks 

Ingredients:

2 cups MIX
3/4 cups sugar
2- 3 ounce packages Cream Cheese
2 tsp almond flavoring
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, separated (reserve white for glazing)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, if desired

Method:

Preheat oven to 375, Grease a cookie sheet.

In small bowl, stir together sugar and almond flavoring; cover and set aside. In medium bowl, combine 1/3-cup butter, cream cheese, and egg yolk; blend until smooth.

Dip measuring cup into cookie mix; level off. Stir in mix.

Knead on floured surface about 25 Strokes until pliable. Roll or press out to a 12x12.inch square. Spread with 1 tbsp butter.

Cut dough in half; place half onto greased cookie sheet.

Spoon sugar mixture to within ½ inch of dough edges.

Place remaining dough half, bottom side down, over sugar mixture. Press edges tightly to seal. Brush with slightly beaten egg white; sprinkle with almonds.

Bake 22 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool at least 30 minutes; remove from cookie sheet.

Cut pastry in half lengthwise then into ½ inch strips crosswise.

Yield: 48 cookies.

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Ingredients:

2 cups mix
1 cup quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons flour ¾ cup sugar
1/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

Topping:

6 oz. package (1 cup) Semisweet chocolate pieces 
¾ cup caramel ice cream topping
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup chopped Nuts
1 egg 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Grease bottom and sides of 13x9 or 9 inch square pan.

Dip measuring cup into cookie MIX; level off.

In large bowl, combine the MIX, oats, flour, sugar and brown sugar; mix until well blended and crumbly.

Press 2 cups of mixture on bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes. Reserve remaining crumbles 

Blend caramel topping and flour. Remove crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate pieces and nuts; drizzle with caramel mixture. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over caramel.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cut when cool. May be refrigerated to cool.
Yield: 24 bars.

Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups MIX    
2  eggs
½ cup sugar  
1 1/2 cups quick old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup raisins

Method:

Recipe may be cut in half.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dip measuring cup into cookie mix; level off.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients, except oats and raisins; blend until smooth. Stir in oats and raisins.

Drop big heaping teaspoons of cookie two inches apart on greased cookie sheets. 

Bake 9 to 13 minutes until light golden brown.

Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Yield: About 3 dozen Cookies.

Toffee Bars 

Ingredients:

2 cups MIX
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Topping:

½ cup chopped toffee
½ cup chopped nuts
6 oz package / 1 cup milk chocolate and/or  semisweet chocolate pieces

Method:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Grease bottom and sides of 10’ or 13x9-inch pan.

Dip measuring cup into cookie mix; level off.

In large bowl, combine first five (5) ingredients; blend until smooth.

Spread dough evenly in greased pan.
Bake 15x10-inch pan 12 to 18 minute 13x9 inch pan 17 to 24 minutes until top springs lack when lightly touched. Immediately sprinkle with chocolate pieces; let stand 2-3 minutes to melt.

Spread chocolate and toffee over bars; sprinkle with nuts.

Yield: 3-6 dozen bars.


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