Christmasy Snowball Cookies

I love the look and taste of those Russian tea cookies, especially for Christmas. They look so much like miniature snowballs, sitting on a Christmasy plate or in a crystal bowl decorated with a sprig of holly, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Most of the recipes I’ve seen are pretty much the same…flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, finely chopped nuts, baked and rolled in lots of confectioners’ sugar.

However, I always felt something was missing in them, and as a huge fan of chocolate (I don’t know too many people who aren’t), I finally figured it out. And adding miniature chocolate chips to them makes all the difference in the world! It’s like finding a sweet hidden surprise when you bite into them! And who wouldn’t want that?!

chocolate-chip-snowball-cookies-1-of-4And I’m also thinking about what else I could put in them to make a bit more of a surprise?! Maybe some finely chopped candied cherries, chopped pieces of candy canes, or other assorted baking pieces you find in the store this time of year.

Now here’s an idea I’ve always thought about doing; making them in different sizes, stacking 2-3 snowballs together, and anchoring them together with frosting so you’d have a round cookie snowman! You could use dots of decorating gel for eyes and buttons, and can you just imagine the cuteness!? It’s certainly something I’m going to try when our granddaughter is a bit older. How fun will making those be??

But for now I’ll continue to bake them as usual and just enjoy eating them one by one. In a few years though, who knows…??

Frosty the Snowman may make his appearance!

 

Christmasy Snowballs

3 sticks butter, softened
3/4 c confectioners’ sugar
1 tbl vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 c flour
2 c miniature chocolate morsels
1/2 c finely chopped pecans
Additional confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, & salt until creamy. Gradually beat in flour.

Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Shape into 1 1/4″ balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake until lightly browned.

Sift (not roll!!) confectioners’ sugar over HOT cookies while on baking sheet. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cookies to wire racks to cool. Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired. Store in airtight container.

Tip: Combine 1/3 c confectioners’ sugar and colored sprinkles together in plastic freezer bag. After cookies are baked, gently roll and shake cookies in mixture for a festive look! Serve on serving platter with springs of holly and a Christmas ornament or two for decoration!

Red Velvet Christmas Cookies

Last week I mentioned my red velvet Christmas Cookies in my Christmas fudge blog. Well, I had a lot of requests for the recipe, so after making a batch of them this week, and sampling far too many of them, I decided I needed to share the recipe so you can enjoy them as much as we do!

The recipe isn’t original. I found it on several websites as well as quite a few Pinterest boards. But one thing is totally true; they are delicious!! Yes, I modified them just a bit, but the end justifies the means, as the saying goes. In fact they’re so good my best friend (who does NOT like cooking in any way!) asked me to show her how to make them for their church cookie exchange!

red-velvet-crinkle-cookies9-editsrgbRed velvet is a special taste, although many people say they can’t tell the difference between red velvet and chocolate. Perhaps it’s the red color, or perhaps it’s just what the name seems to imply; a richness that you can’t get just anywhere, or in any other recipe.

I will warn you, rolling them into balls to put on the cookie sheets will most definitely turn your hands red! No matter how chilled the dough is! It also helps to rub confectioners’ sugar on your hands (instead of flour) during the process so the dough won’t stick quite as much. But the finished product is worth it. If you love red velvet desserts as much as we do, that is!

So here is the recipe we used. Feel free to enjoy And a word of advice from my husband; they’re even better warm from the oven and served with vanilla ice cream!

 

 

Sinful Red Velvet Cookies

8 oz cream cheese, softened (the last time I made them I had to run to store to get the cream cheese before we went to dinner and ended up bringing it inside the restaurant in my purse to soften while we ate!)

1 stick butter, softened (I never use anything but real butter)
1 egg, room temperature
1 tbl vanilla
18 oz box red velvet cake mix
3/4 c white baking chips

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Beat in cake mix. Blend in chips by hand.

Cover mixture and chill at least 2 hours until easy to handle.

Roll into tablespoon size balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar. Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. I usually make a slight thumbprint on each one before baking.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cookies will be soft and gooey. Sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar and red sprinkles for a festive touch.

Remove to wire rack and let cool. Store in airtight container.

And watch them quickly disappear!

Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

Once again, this isn’t one of those family recipes handed down from my mother to me to Ashley, but they are so much fun and so Christmasy, when I found the recipe and tried them the first time, they became an instant favorite Christmas tradition!

I just can’t convince Ben not to try and eat them before the topping is put on. He always picks one up and complains there’s no flavor as he eats half of it and throws the other part away. Well, there’s a reason there’s no flavor to them because the main flavors are in the topping and you AREN’T supposed to eat them without it! But I guess scolding the husband is part of the yearly tradition of making them!

Another part of the fun of making these cookies is crushing the candy canes to make the topping. Ashley has always enjoyed this part…it’s a good way to take your frustrations out! We always use a small kitchen hammer. The best way to smash them is in a plastic freezer bag on top of a soft dish towel; NOT directly on your counter top, especially if you have granite countertops. It would not be a pretty sight. (We also discovered this year that if you buy the mini candy canes that are individually wrapped and smash them inside the wrapping, it’s easier, because you can just cut the wrapper open and dump the pieces into a bowl.

So give them a try. The worst part is you have to refrigerate the dough for some 3-4 hours after you make it before you can bake them. Don’t try to bake them without doing that, because you’ll have a mess, and won’t be able to shape them properly. Recipes have directions for a reason!

And don’t worry about completing them in one day. If you leave the dough in the refrigerator for a day or up to two, it will still be fine. Just not any longer.

Candy Cane Snowballs

2 c butter, softened (NOT margarine….only butter works)
1 c confectioner’s sugar
Cream together in large bowl. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla

Gradually add 3 ½ c all-purpose flour
Stir in 1 c chopped pecans; mix well

Refrigerate in bowl (covered with plastic wrap) 3-4 hours or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough in 1” balls (dough may be a bit hard at first so you may have to use a spoon to get the right amount, and if it’s a bit bigger, it’s ok), Place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately to wire racks and cool thoroughly.

Topping:

½ – ¾ c crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (I usually have Ashley crush the whole box of 12 candy canes. See instructions above.)

At least 1-2 packages of candy melts (sold in craft stores or specialty cake stores). Two packages are best because you can use two different colors for the topping – I like pink and red; white isn’t as festive.

In microwave safe bowl, melt about 1/3 c of the candy melts (1 color at a time) per package directions, stirring til smooth. Dip the top of each cooled cookie into candy coating, and then immediately into the crushed candy canes. Put them back on the wire racks to allow candy melts to harden and store in covered containers. They will keep for several weeks if necessary.

They are yummy and make 5-6 dozen! Enjoy!

Kool-Aid Cookies

All of us who grew up in a certain era remember the ads for Kool-Aid…that round frosted pitcher with the smiling face drawn on it in the condensation! It certainly enticed us to beg our mothers to buy a package and make up a batch! My favorite was the cherry, of course. But if it spilled…what a mess we had!

So when I found a recipe for cookies made with powdered Kool-Aid, or a similar product, they looked so good I had to try it out. So this isn’t an old family recipe by any means, at least not one that dates back to my grandmother or mother. But I can say it’s a recipe that will continue on every year as a new family recipe, because we all like them! And they aren’t hard to make at all. I even had Ashley making them this year, because, after all, she has to continue the Christmas cookie baking tradition now that she and her husband are having a little girl next year!

Even though I make them for Christmas, they do tend to remind me a little bit of summer, and one of these days I may actually make them to enjoy around the pool. But until then, here’s the recipe to try out for yourself! Enjoy!

Fruit Dream Cookies (or, as we call them, Kool-Aid Cookies)

1/2 c butter, softened (butter…not margarine! margarine doesn’t work)
1/2 c Crisco
Beat together in large bowl for 30 sec.

Add: 1 c sugar
1/2 c Kool aid sugar-sweetened or similar powdered fruit drink mix (I usually use orange, but cherry or lemon is good also) and do NOT use the sugar-free mix
1/2 tsp baking powde
1/4 tsp baking soda
Beat til fluffy, scraping sides of bowl.

Beat in:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Beat in 2 1/2 c flour

With mixing spoon, stir in 1 1/2 c white baking pieces (NOT white chocolate, but the white baking chips)

Cover bowl and chill dough for at least 30 minutes or til easy to handle.

Shape dough in 1″ balls. Roll in colored or coarse sugar (I use a combination of red and yellow for the orange ones). Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes at 375 degrees until edges are set (centers will be soft).

Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

2015-12-12 15.41.45

Ben’s Favorite Lemon Drops

My mother really loved her son-in-law, and she always tried to make him some of his favorite dishes when she knew we were visiting.

I don’t remember when she first found this recipe. It wasn’t handed down to her from her mother, like a lot of our recipes were. She probably found it in a magazine somewhere and just decided to try it one day when we were coming to visit.

Ben always made sure to go over to the kitchen counter when we got to my mother’s to see what goodies she had baked for us. And on one occasion, there were these yellow crinkled up cookies dusted with powdered sugar cooling on her old wire cookie racks.

Who knew they’d turn out to be one of his very favorites? And from that time on, we’ve always made these cookies at Christmas. And other times of the year, as well.

Ashley has been my official lemon drop cookie maker, though, because they’re a bit messy to make, since you have to mix them with your hands. And she really didn’t mind. At least I don’t think she did. Except now that she has her own home, who’s going to make them? Any volunteers before I have to do it?

So in our newest tradition of presenting weekly (hopefully) family recipes, here’s the super easy and quick lemon cookie recipe!

1 box lemon cake mix
1 egg
1 cup Cool Whip
1 ½ tbl lemon juice

Mix ingredients together by hand. Literally. Because they really won’t mix together well any other way. You can start out with a spoon, but once it gets mixed good, you gotta get your fingers in there! It’s also easier to coat your hands in flour or powdered sugar when you’re doing them, so you won’t have such a mess when you’re done!

After they’re mixed, roll in 1 – 1 ½” balls, dip them in powdered sugar, and place on a greased cookie sheet about 1 – 1 ½” apart. Make an indentation in the middle with your thumb, or whichever finger your prefer. We’re not doing fingerprints!

Bake in preheated 350 degree over 8-10 minutes until done. Cool on a wire rack, and store any that are left after they family grabs them in a sealed container. If they last long enough and start to get a little hard, put a slice of white bread in the container with them, and you’ll be amazed at how moist they become again!

Let me know how you like them! You can also use strawberry cake mix, or chocolate (add vanilla in place of the lemon juice) but I really like these lemon ones the best!

My Grandmother’s Fruitcake (Cookies)

In my recipe box, filed under “cookies”, there’s a tattered and yellowed sheet of paper, written in my grandmother’s old-fashioned handwriting, for a cookie recipe I never really thought I liked. Now I make them almost every year.

You all know about the tradition of fruitcake at Christmas. Did you know that it’s claimed that the ancient Egyptians actually placed an early version of fruitcake in the tombs of their loved ones? And please, no jokes about those same fruitcakes still being around now. I mean, really…. We’ve all heard the jokes about giving fruitcake for gifts at Christmas time. It’s an old joke that no one likes it.

Well, guess what! I actually do like it, as long as it’s moist and overflowing with that sweet, sticky candied fruit we can only find in stores at the holiday season. I’ve actually made fruitcake once or twice, but since I’m the only one in the family who eats it, I gave up. Plus, as much as I like to bake, I don’t enjoy baking cakes. Cupcakes, yes, but cakes have never been my specialty. Probably because I’m no good at doing the icing, but that’s a different story entirely.

fruitcake 3

Cookies are a different matter. They don’t have to look perfect, unless you’re doing those fancy cut-out ones, and that requires almost a degree in art, as far as I’m concerned, so I don’t make those. Besides, they never look like the pictures you see in the magazines.

But these cookies are more creative, because I discovered you can vary the type of fruit you use, and actually use what YOU like, rather than what’s sold pre-packaged in the grocery stores, so I can still add a bit of my own creativity. You can, too.

So if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at these cookies. Enjoy putting together your own combination of fruit, and see how they turn out. Add the nuts if you want, but since I don’t like nuts in my cookies, they’re all for you!

1 c. softened butter
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cream these ingredients together. (I use a bit of extra brown sugar and dash of extra vanilla. And I MAY try a splash of brandy extract this year!)

Sift together and add to creamed mixture:
1 2/3 c. all purpose flour
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix together and add to cookie batter:
16 oz. candied fruit (cherries, pineapple, apricot, etc. Add some lemon and/or orange peel if you wish)
1 1/2 c. finely chopped dates (I mix them half and half with golden raisins)
1/2 – 3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (I don’t use them…remember. Well, maybe I’ll try cashews…I like them!)
It’s a bit easier to dust the fruit with flour and then add it.

Mix together well and drop by teaspoonfuls on greased baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool and store in tightly covered container. They’re good fresh baked, and even better after a day or two!fruitcake 1