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Holiday baking. Please share your favorites.

photo-2We love to bake this time of year. Some of the cookies I make now with my children I used to make with my own mom growing up. Over the years I have been part of a variety of cookie exchanges, a great way to sample new recipes and swap holiday traditions.

Some of my favorites from my childhood:

– Kris Kringle cut-out cookies (recipe)

– Crescent cookies filled with a dab of strawberry jam

– Snickerdoodles (recipe)

– Baklava

I also love making Crescent Moon cookies dipped in chocolate and Gingerbread boy and girl cookies (pictured, recipe form the  Joy of Cooking)

What do you like to bake this time of year?

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  • Chocolate Pretzel Rudolph Noses–learned this from a PTO superstar. They’re perfect, easy, fun to make with kids.

    You’ll need:
    One bag of plain M&Ms in holiday colors (red for rudolph)
    One bag of plain Herhsey’s Kisses
    One bag of square “checkerboard” pretzels (like an square-encased tic tact toe board. I think these are usually “butter” flavored–but that’s OK.)

    Heat oven to 175.

    On a parchment lined sheet, line up the pretzels (there will be extras). Top each with one kiss. Place in oven for 5 minutes, until the kisses look a little bit wilted. Remove from oven and immediately tap the tip of each kiss with one M&M. Allow to cool. Yummy, sturdy, packs well.

    For extra credit use hershey’s hugs (striped) or caramel-filled hershey’s kisses (careful, these are more fragile & easy to over-melt.)

    An official version of this recipe can be found at http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/holiday-pretzel-treats-685006/

  • My dad LOVES pecan pie. I am making this for Christmas. Thanks to Edible Rhody for the recipe. http://www.ediblecommunities.com/rhody/


    From Edible Rhody contributor Johnette Rodriguez.

    Aunt Edna was the sister my mother was closest to, in spirit as well as age. Her pecan pie, made with pecans from her sister Jean’s tree in Shreveport, was such a hit at annual family reunions that it was usually kidnapped and hidden until dessert time. Years ago I hand-wrote the recipe, just as she told it to me, and I still make it from that scrap of paper.

    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup Karo dark corn syrup
    3 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    pinch salt
    1 cup pecans
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 unbaked pie shell from your favorite recipe

    Preheat the oven to 375º. Mix sugar, syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pecans, stir and pour into unbaked pie shell. Dot butter over top of pie. Bake approximately 35 minutes. Take the pie out when it is still shaky in the center. The nuts will spread themselves nicely around, whether cut up or left whole—you don’t have to place them in any way. Let sit about 45 minutes and then serve warm.

  • Brown Sugar Shortbread from Sally Schneider’s THE IMPROVISATIONAL COOK. Note: this couldn’t be simpler–I may have put in too much detail so it looks longer than it is. Another note: i would make a quadruple batch if you’re setting up your Cuisinart anyway–especially since you can freeze the dough so easily.

    1 stick cold unsalted butter
    1/3 c light brown sugar
    1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    3/4 c plus 2 T flour
    3 T cornstarch
    sea salt flakes

    In a Cuisinart, combine butter-sugar-salt-vanilla to make a light, fluffy paste (about 20 seconds). Add flour & cornstarch–pulse until it clumps together fairly uniformly. Then use your hands to gather the dough into a ball. (Schneider says you can also do this by hand or with an electric mixer.)

    Roll the dough into a log (I do 1 inch diameter to make small cookies)in plastic wrap. Freeze til you’re ready to bake or refrigerate for at least one hour, til firm. Slice into one-eighth inch thick rounds, place on parchment lined cookie sheet. They’ll spread only a little bit so you can fit a lot on each sheet. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of the salt flakes (optional, but great if you like salty sweets and also looks pretty & sparkly) then bake at 325 until edges just begin to color, about 15-20 minutes. Cool completely before packing into a tin.

  • We’re baking up a storm on Sunday. Great ideas here! We will definitely make world peace cookies (bittersweet chocolate with sea salt), decorated sugar cookies cut into star shapes, chocolate chip cookies w/ mini mnms. And some of these here! Baklava intimidates me, though. Am in awe.

  • Katy, please post that recipe!

    I make sugar cookies in mini muffin tins and then press a rolo in them just as I pull them out of the oven. Sinfully delish.

  • We have already made (and eaten) two batches of those peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss planted in the center. Best if they are still a little warm-yum!