Holiday baking time has begun!
No-bake holly cookies
1/3 C butter or margarine
30 large marshmallows
1 tsp. green food coloring (about 30-40 drops)
3 C corn flakes
2 TBS small red cinnamon candies
Measure out 3 cups of corn flakes. Set aside. Set a large saucepan on the stove top and place butter and marshmallows in it. Turn heat on low. Cook butter and marshmallows together, stirring continually, until melted and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in food coloring. Or place butter and marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until mixture is melted and smooth when stirred, about 2 minutes, and then add food coloring.
Remove mixture from heat (or from microwave). Use wooden spoon to add corn flakes in 2-4 additions, turning over cereal quickly to coat surfaces completely with each addition before mixture gets too sticky. Make sure all cereal is coated completely or some “holly leaves” won’t be green. Use vegetable spray to coat surfaces of a small ice cream scoop, cookie scoop, or kitchen teaspoon. Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie mixture onto prepared baking sheets. Press 2 or 3 cinnamon candies into center of each cookie, mounding each one slightly. Allow cookies to set either at room temperature or in refrigerator. Store cookies loosely in an airtight container with waxed paper in between layers.
The following is a recipe for shortbread cookies. Why “shortbread?” The name comes from old baking lingo, when “short” meant a “short texture” – that is sandy cookie dough which produces a crisp cookie, rather than a flaky, chewy cookie. The secret to “short” texture is in using warm, soft butter, which coats the flour to prevent long strands of gluten from forming. Shorter strands of gluten produce a crisper texture, hence, “shortbread.”
Chocolate shortbread bars
1 C (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
1 C walnuts, chopped (optional)
4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 tsp. solid shortening (like Crisco)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Set pan aside. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a separate bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping bowl continually, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Gradually stir flour mixture into creamed mixture a bit at a time until well blended, scraping bowl constantly, until well mixed. Dough will be crumbly. Use a wooden spoon to stir in walnuts by hand. With floured hands, press dough into prepared pan.
Bake cookies for 35-40 minutes. Remove baking pan from oven. Cut bars immediately before cookies begin to cool. Use a sharp knife to score cookies into bars, 3/4 inch by 1-1/2 inches. Let shortbread cool completely. Lift ends of parchment paper from pan. Separate shortbread cookie bars.
To make chocolate drizzle, break up baking chocolate into squares. Place it in a quart-sized freezer bag. Add shortening. Microwave 20 seconds on high. Massage sides of freezer bag to mix and loosen chocolate. Repeat until chocolate mixture is melted and smooth. Clip off corner of freezer bag to pipe drizzle onto cooled shortbread. Allow chocolate drizzle to set. Use a spatula to remove bars from pan. Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze.
Minty chocolate cookies
1 pouch (17-20 oz.) sugar cookie mix
1/2 C (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. mint extract
6 to 8 drops green food coloring
1 C crème de menthe baking chips
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix together cookie mix, butter, mint extract, and egg until a soft dough forms, scraping bowl continually. Gradually add food coloring drops until dough is the color you want. Use a large spoon to stir in crème de menthe baking chips and chocolate chips. Use a small ice cream scoop or cookie scoop to drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking trays, 2 inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies are lightly brown around edges. Remove cookie sheets from oven. Allow cookies to sit for 5 minutes before using a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack. Cool completely.
Thought – A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot and realize how blessed you are!
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(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Holiday baking time has begun!