The Art of Cooking: Quick Christmas Cookies

I love the holiday season. The snow, the parties, the eggnog, the presents, the Salvation Army ringers, and even the cheesy “made for TV” Christmas movies; can’t get enough of them. But before I know it, the “After Christmas Sales” are being advertised and I’m standing in line at the return counter. No, time doesn’t slow down for any of us during the holidays and we all still have our obligations. So, I have compiled a list of my friends and family’s greatest holiday desserts, all of which take very little time to prepare so you can get the most out of this season. Enjoy!

This sugar cookie recipe is great because you don’t have to refrigerate or roll out the dough. I like to use the Cream Cheese Frosting with it; it has a rich, sweet flavor that pairs very well with the “not too sweet” cookie.

Soft, Chewy Sugar Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract (or any extract you want)
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla.
2. In separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
3. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well.
4. Roll tablespoons of batter into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Gently press the tops down with a fork.
5. Bake for about 11 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown. (not the sides)
6. Let cool, then frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8oz) cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 tablespoon vanilla (or any extract you want)
at least 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Mix first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add sugar by cupful to cheese mixture and stir. It’s really up to you from here how much sugar you want to use. More sugar will make it stiffer, and also sweeter. Add food coloring if desired, and frost cookies.

Even if you are not a big coconut fan, try these. They don’t have an overwhelming coconut flavor as you might think. A delicious cookie to add to any holiday dessert tray.

Angel Coconut Balls
Makes about 30 cookies

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Blend together milk, coconut, and vanilla
2. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. (air bake cookie sheet works best for this recipe)
3. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet right away.

These are very good little cookies, and they whip up in just a few minutes. Store these in a container and they will keep for weeks.

Rum Balls

2 ½ cups vanilla wafers, crushed
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
¼ cup good rum
extra confectioner’s sugar for rolling

1. In a large bowl mix wafers, sugar, cocoa, and pecans together.
2. Stir in rum and syrup; mix well.
3. Shape into balls and roll into confectioner’s sugar; refrigerate for about 20 minutes before serving.

Yum, fudge. Store these at room temperature, loosely covered.

Christmas Fudge

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
dash of salt
½ – 1 cup chopped nuts of your choice
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chips with the milk and salt.
2. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla.
3. Spread evenly into wax paper lined 8 or 9 inch square pan.
4. Chill 2 hours or until firm.
5. Turn fudge onto cutting board and peel off paper; cut into squares.

Happy Holidays!

Image by: miss_michelle, flickr

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