Friday, December 12, 2014

Four Easy-to-Make Christmas Treats

Heaps of cookies and candies may be a Christmas tradition but over the past few years I have learned to bake in moderation. I do enjoy making and indulging in sweet treats at Christmas time but baking dozens and dozens of cookies but I don't enjoy being exhausted and stressed. Making cookies is time consuming and tiring work that I find is not very much fun when done in excess. My current approach is to bake for a specific purpose. I also use the word bake loosely since I like to make some no-bake treats to balance out the work of baking and make it an easy and enjoyable process.

This holiday season I needed to fill a small tin with homemade goodies for a gift. Additionally, I needed a plate of cookies for our historical society museum’s open house and another plate for a pitch in. Given the quantity I needed, I decided on four recipes and decided to make a double batch of one.                                                
When I am making up a box or plate of assorted goodies, I like to have a variety of ingredients, flavors, textures, and shapes. Here is what I decided to make:

These are probably my favorite cookies. My grandmother used to make them. We always called them Seven Layer Cookies. Here is the recipe from the Eagle Brand website where they are called Seven Layer Magic Cookies Bars. This is exactly the same recipe I use and I think that my grandmother must have gotten this recipe from the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk label.

I like to double this recipe because all the ingredients, except the sweetened condensed milk, come in packages larger than the recipe calls for and I would rather have more cookies and fewer leftover ingredients. The butterscotch chips that I bought came in an 11 ounce package which is 1 ounce short of what is needed to double the recipe. I just divided them equally and it there were plenty for both batches.

My next selection was Mexican Wedding Cookies. I have been making these since I started baking as a preteen. They are very easy and I have received many compliments on my version of this iconic cookie. I am not sure where the recipe came from but I am happy to share it with you. I left out the nuts this time since 2 of the other recipes I selected had nuts. Without the nuts the recipe made around 42 cookies.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
½ cup powdered sugar, plus some to roll cookies in
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped nuts, optional
Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Work in the flour, salt, and nuts until the dough holds together. Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and out in the refrigerator until dough is chilled. Roll dough into one-inch balls. Place on baking sheet. (I highly recommend using parchment paper.) Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Roll in powdered sugar while hot. Roll again when cool. (My secret is to sift the second layer of powdered sugar over the cookies instead of rolling them.)

Chocolate Fudge Cups, is a new recipe from a recent issue of Woman's Day magazine and is pretty simple to make.

I couldn't find the foil mini muffin cups at the grocery store so I used some cups that I had. They are paper and a bit smaller than mini muffin size. With the smaller cups, the recipe made 18 rather than 12. And, the paper worked alright. I was worried that the fudge would stick to it but I selflessly tested one and it seemed fine.

I don’t know if I didn’t get the milk hot enough or if it was because I had oversize chocolate chips (the only thing I found in bittersweet or dark chocolate) but the chips didn’t completely melt. I just popped them in the microwave for a few seconds to finish the melting.

My final selection is so simple there is no recipe and no picture(not sure how missed taking a pic of the pretzels)—Candy Coated Pretzels. I had never tried these before but I had the candy coating and the sprinkles on hand so I only needed to buy some pretzels. I followed the directions on the candy coating and melted the candy with a little bit of solid shortening. Once it was melted and smooth, I threw about 6 pretzels at a time into the candy. Using a fork, I turned them over a couple times to coat them and then removed them one at a time. I put them on wax paper and added sprinkles. This was very, very simple but not especially fast.

So those are my four easy to make Christmas treats. My holiday baking for this year is complete.

No comments:

Post a Comment