Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies (and Spicy Nuts too)

Christmas just wouldn't feel the same without some home baked cookies - so both yesterday and today were cookie baking days at my house.  This year I tried several recipies that are new to me.  Both Cinnamon Thumbs and "Mom's" Best Cookies........and they both turned out delicious.  I found the recipe for Cinnamon Thumbs while doing a search on the internet.  The "Mom's" Best are from Margie on the About.com Quilting Forum.  She thinks her Mom must have really loved these - she found the recipe hand-written 3 different times in her Mom's cookie book.  Sounds like a good endorsement to me.  After I made them I can tell why - they're light as a feather and very yummy!

Cinnamon Thumbs

5 TB sugar
1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon/Sugar mixture for coating:
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar

Cream sugar and butter together.  Pour remaining ingredients (except coating ingredients) into a large bowl.  Mix.  Form into long snake-like logs as thick as your thumb.  Using a butter-type knife, cut pieces about the length of your thumb.  Place on a greased cookie sheet (I used Pam cooking spray) and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.  While still warm, roll in coating mixture (cinnamon/sugar mixture).

"Mom's" Best

1 lemon cake mix (or try other flavor - I used yellow cake)
1 egg
4 1/2 oz Cool Whip

Mix ingredients together.  Drop tsps of dough into powdered sugar and roll to coat. 
I used 2 spoons to scoop with and release with.  Worked out pretty well - these are sticky until they get rolled in the powdered sugar.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until light brown. 

I also did the first steps for making Chocolate Coconut Balls, then put them in the refrigerator overnight, and dipped them in chocolate this morning. 

This recipe is from Hilda on the About.com Quilting Forum.  When I was looking over the recipe it reminded me of Almond Joy candy bars so I decided to put an almond in the center of each ball.  Oh my - these are decadent!   I think I'm going to have to give all of these away or I'm going to be in trouble.

Chocolate Coconut Balls

1 stick melted butter or margarine
14 oz. flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (this is where I made the substitution to an almond in the center instead)
4 tsp vanilla
Mix together in a large bowl, stirring well.

Add and mix thoroughly:
2 boxes (2 lbs) powdered sugar
Form into small balls. Chill so it holds together when dipping in melted chocolate.

2 packages chocolate chips
1/4 square parafin
Melt in a double boiler.  Dip each ball and set on wax paper for the chocolate to set up.  If you refrigerate at this point, it will get freckles.

Today I'm still in the kitchen and having a great time.  I made spiced nuts and also made cookies with my granddaughter.  I know, more cookies..........but I just had to make some traditional Christmas cookies too.  You know.......the kind that are cut out with cookie cutters and decorated.  My granddaughter is getting all grown up, she's 16 now, but we still had fun decorating them together.  Here are the recipes we used.

Zesty Spiced Nuts

2 TB butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TB water
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
dash ground thyme
1/2 tsp salt (slightly less if nuts are salted)
2 - 2 1/2 cups mixed nuts or nuts of your choice

1. Mix spices together and reserve.
2. Heat nuts in dry skillet and cook, stirring often, until they begin to toast (about 4 min on med high). (I found this enhances the flavor of the nuts but this step could be omitted, if desired - I eliminated it today). Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Put remaining ingredients, including reserved spices) in a large sauce pan and cook on med high, stirring until glaze forms, about 1 minute.
4. Return nuts to pan and toss to combine with glaze.
5. Cook for 2-3 minutes until nuts are glazed and are golden brown.
6. Remove and cool for about 10 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet - separate with a fork when cool.
7. At the end I also coated the nuts with a sprinkling of a cinnamon sugar mixture to dry them out more. Mine seemed a little too sticky.  I prefer to add the sprinkling of the cinnamon sugar mixture even if they weren't sticky.
8. Store in an airtight container or put in snack bags for just the right size snack.

The cayenne pepper that makes these a little bit "hot" is optional so you can leave that out if you prefer - this is an Emeril recipe and you know he likes to add the bam.  Here's a picture of how ours turned out.  This recipe only made a small bowl and they go very fast so you might want to think about doubling the recipe if you decide to make them.

Traditional Christmas Cookies (aka Sand Tarts)

2 lbs butter (4 cups)
4 cups sugar
3 small eggs
8 cups flour
Egg wash:  1 egg white & 1 tsp water

Cream butter and sugar with mixer.  Beat in eggs, blend in flour, then roll out real thin.  Cut with decorative cookie cutters.  Put on ungreased cookie sheet and brush top with egg wash.  Sprinkle with colored sugars and sprinkles.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Also good for frosting with powdered sugar frosting, with or without tint.  Cinnamon & sugar and a half an almond are also good.  We used the cutting left overs and made Snickerdoodles with a sprinkling of cinnamon & sugar on them.

We also made Russian Tea Cakes (I think another name for them is Mexican Wedding Cakes) but I think everyone already has that recipe or one that's similar.  They're the ball cookies with nuts that get rolled in powdered sugar.  Here's a picture:

I guess that wraps up the baking I'm going to do this year.  My counters are full and goodie packages are in process of being assembled for family and neighbors.  My husband's office workers have already had a  sampling of some of the holiday goodies but now they'll get cookies too.  I may try to catch the mailman tomorrow and give him a little bag of goodies too.  I better save a few cookies for Santa and his reindeer too.  Don't you love this time of year! 


Kim D. said...

Those Russian Teacakes are one of my favorite cookies.. The others sound very yummy too.

Barb said...

I haven't seen any recent postings, but I wanted to say today Happy Birthday on this 6th of Jan! I hope your Birthday was wonderful (so was my 20th wedding anniversary!)
Love you Auntie Linda!!


Linda P. said...

Thank you for the wishes Barb. I had a wonderful day. Happy Anniversery to you and Mark too - can hardly believe it's been 20 years for you two already.