Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Baking

The kids made their sugar cookie batch last night, so I had free reign in the kitchen today, making Toffee Butter Cookies, Pretzel/Rolo/Pecan melts, and my own sugar cookie trees and stars (I know, they didn't turn out nearly as nice as the cookies the kids made!).

The Toffee Butter Cookie recipe was from a back-issue of Victoria Magazine (2001), and since I couldn't find it on the new recipe site, here it is:

1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup English or almond toffee bits
Decorative sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, butter, egg and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy (1-2 minutes). Add flour, baking powder, soda, reduce speed to low. Beat until well mixed (1-2 minutes). Stir in toffee bits.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (I use a small cookie scoop then roll the balls smooth in my hand) and roll in decorative sugar (I used white/clear). Place two inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet, flatten slightly.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (do NOT overbake). Roll again in decorative sugar if desired while warm.
Cool completely.

I discovered the Pretzel/Rolo/Pecan melts referenced on Angry Chicken's site, but I changed the recipe a bit to accomodate my gas stove (lowered the temp to 350 degrees, used square pretzels only), so if you decide to try them, make sure to do a test batch before unwrapping too many Rolos from their gold wrappers! Oh, and * use parchment paper * on a baking sheet with an edge around it so the pretzels don't go sliding onto the floor when you take them out of the oven!

Finally, I "cheat" when it comes to sugar cookies, because Betty Crocker makes the BEST mix out there! It's usually sold in pouches, but can be purchased in a huge box at one of the bulk food stores. You can add flavoring (I added 1/4 tsp mint extract and crushed candy canes to one batch), make drop cookies (and add candies or Hershey's Kisses while they're warm), or make cutout cookies.
bettycrocker sugar cookies

Of course with these done, I'll be making Mexican Wedding Cakes (also known as "Russian Tea Cakes") and possibly some gingerbread cake to round out the bake-fest.

Thank goodness most of these are being given away and mailed out in care packages...'tis the season to wear stretchy jeans, fa la la la laaaa, la la la laaaaaa...

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