Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas Cookies: Santa's Favorites

Cookies. Who doesn't love them? We dip them in milk. We cover them with icing and sprinkles. We make them in various shapes and sizes and devour them with abandon, not giving a second thought to their caloric content.

Why? Because they're delicious!

We eat cookies year 'round and don't need an excuse to crave them, but the holiday season is the perfect time to overindulge. No cookie is better than a freshly baked Christmas cookie, after all. We bake them with our children while singing Christmas songs or decorating the Christmas tree. We sneak late-night bites while wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings. We leave a plate of cookies, along with a glass of milk, for Santa to nibble on during his Christmas Eve visit.

Of all the food and drink we associate with the holidays, none are more essential and revered than the Christmas cookie. Which is why we're bringing you a recipe you'll want to try in your kitchen come December. Not just any run of the mill cookie can be a Christmas cookie, after all. You want something special when you celebrate the occasion with family and friends, and we're happy to oblige by showing you how to make the best Christmas cookie on the block (no offense to your grandma's time-tested recipe!). And, to boot, they're easy and quick to make!

Santa's Midnight Snack (or Rudolph's Sugar Cookie)
3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Icing and sprinkles

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixer bowl at medium speed with electric mixer. Mix until light and creamy. Next, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix on low speed until well blended. Cover dough and chill for one hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut in desired shapes (Christmas trees, stockings, Santas, gift boxes, etc.). Place on baking sheets and bake 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden brown. After cooling, decorate cookies with icing and sprinkles as desired.

Did you know that Santa's also a peanut butter fanatic? That's right, jolly ol' St. Nick can't get enough peanut butter fudge in that jelly like tummy of his. As long as you don't have any elves at home allergic to peanut products, give this recipe a try (not a cookie, we know, so we're fudging a bit on this one ... but, hey, this recipe is super easy and super tasty!):

Penultimate Peanut Butter Fudge
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 stick margarine
Pinch of salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar, milk, margarine and salt in a saucepan. Boil, stirring frequently, until it forms a soft ball in cold water. Remove from stove and add peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until creamy and pour into buttered 9x9 pan. Let cool before cutting.

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