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Five Christmas cookie recipes to celebrate the holidays

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Arguably the best part about the holidays is the food – and what’s better than an excuse to eat all kinds of holiday-themed desserts. Baking cookies at Christmastime is a great way to spend time with friends and family, get in the holiday spirit and end up with some sweet treats to enjoy until New Year’s. Here are five recipes to consider adding to your holiday baking list. Grab an apron, crank up the Christmas music and get baking.

1) Molasses cookies, recipe from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Assemble all of your ingredients and preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a mixer, beat the brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg on medium speed in a large bowl. You can also use a spoon to mix the ingredients together. Gradually stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the granulated sugar – put that in a small bowl off to the side.

Once you have your dough mixed up, scoop out spoonfuls using a tablespoon. Roll the dough into roughly one-and-a-half-inch balls and dip the top of the balls into your dish of granulated sugar. Place the cookies, sugar side up, on an ungreased cookie sheet. You can use your thumb to push down the tops of the cookies to make them flatter. Leave enough space between the cookies so that they can spread out when they cook.

Bake the cookies for 13-16 minutes. When they are done, the tops of the cookies will appear cracked. Take them out of the oven and transfer them from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack. If desired, add red or green sugar crystals for a festive flair.

2) Snickerdoodle cookies, recipe from Betty Crocker

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

This cookie is super easy to make and a crowd-pleaser. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix your sugar, butter, shortening and eggs in a large bowl. Separately, mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix until the dough is well incorporated.

Scoop out spoonfuls of dough and shape into one-and-one-quarter-inch balls. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Roll your cookies in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and then place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies for eight to 10 minutes and then remove from the oven. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle additional cinnamon-sugar on top if desired.

3) Peanut butter blossoms, recipe from Hershey’s

Ingredients:

48 Hershey’s Kisses Brand milk chocolates, unwrapped

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup additional granulated sugar for rolling, in a separate bowl

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the wrappers from the Hershey’s kisses, placing them in a bowl. Beat the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl until it is well blended. Add the granulate sugar and brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Then add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt, and then add this mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

Once you have your dough, scoop out spoonfuls about the size of a tablespoon and roll the dough into one-inch balls. Roll the cookies in the bowl of granulated sugar so that the entire ball of dough is covered. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for eight to 10 minutes. The cookies should be lightly browned when you take them out of the oven.

Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, take the Hershey’s kisses from your bowl and press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. The cookie will crack around the edges and the chocolate may appear melted at the base – this is OK. Then transfer your cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

4) Cutout sugar cookies, recipe from Food Network

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

A small bowl of extra flour

Cookie cutters

Various kinds of sprinkles

Separately:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons water

Several colors of food coloring

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and assemble your ingredients. In a bowl mix together your flour and baking powder. In a second bowl, beat the butter with sugar until the mixtures is light and fluffy and then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. You can refrigerate your dough for a few hours if it is too sticky to work with right away.

Sprinkle some flour on a hard surface and, taking small sections of the dough at a time, roll out your cookie dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut out cookie shapes and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling, make your frosting. In a small bowl, mix sugar and water to form a thick, smooth icing. Divide your white icing into several smaller bowls, and stir in a few drops of different colored food coloring until the icing becomes the color you desire. Use the icing and sprinkles to decorate your cooled cookies, then enjoy.

5) Thumbprint cookies, recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup apricot jam

1/2 cup raspberry jam

You can make several different varieties of this type of cookie, which makes it great for the holidays. This version is made with apricot and raspberry jam, but you can also use chopped nuts, chocolate or another flavor of jam.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar until it’s pale and fluffy, and then beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and then add the flour mixture and beat until it’s all combined.

Stick this dough in the refrigerator overnight to make it easier to work with. When you take the dough out to make the cookies, be sure to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll your dough into one-inch balls. If you’re using nuts, roll the dough in nuts before placing it on the cookie sheet. For this jam variation, place the cookie on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and using your thumb, press a well into the center of each cookie.

Bake the cookies for about seven minutes and remove them from the oven. Use the handle end of a wooden spoon to press down the center of the cookie again. Then put them back into the oven for another seven to nine minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to cool. Once cooled, fill the middle of the cookie with apricot or raspberry jam.

Alyssa McClure is the managing editor and can be reached at alyssa.mcclure@ubspectrum.com.


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