All Time Favorite Christmas Cookies

It’s that time of year again, there is snow on the ground, and ornaments on the tree. Christmas is a magical time of year with memories and traditions that never seem to fade. One of these traditions is the baking of Christmas cookies. My mother went to a cookie swap just the other day, where she baked ten dozen of the same cookie to give away and she brought home ten dozen different varieties for the family to enjoy. There were rules in this cookie swap in an effort to avoid having five dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved all of the different varieties my mom brought home, but it’s not Christmas without the classics. You know which classics I’m referring to, they’re in every home at some point during the holiday, just as they’ve been since before you can remember. It’s not Christmas without cut-out sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, and snicker doodles. I have a plan for next year, we’re going to bring the classics back to the swap, and everyone can add their own little spin on them.

Sugar cookies are by far my favorite cookies. They hold so much opportunity, they’re a blank canvas for the ten year old cookie artist. Sugar cookies come in many different shapes, colors, and textures, but the taste is always the same. Everyone has sugar cookies during the holidays, and I mean everyone. Even if you’re not the cookie connoisseur and you have the baking skills of a cyclopes, you can still enjoy an old-fashioned sugar cookie.

A trip to the local grocery store freezer selection will solve your kitchen catastrophe in the form of break-and-bake cookies. The rest is easy, decorating is half the fun of eating them. Your choices for materials are endless, it all depends on your style. You may choose to use cookie cutters, and make a perfect Santa. If you choose to go the classic circle direction, frosting and sprinkles are your best friends. Whether it’s the smell of the cookies baking, the fun you have decorating them, or even just eating them, this cookie classic is sure to bring your family together if only for an afternoon.

When I think of the holidays, I think of gingerbread men and sugarplum fairies. Since sugarplum fairies don’t come in cookie form, gingerbread is our second Christmas favorite. Gingerbread, other than tasting amazing, can make anything you can dream of. If you want to go simple, making a dozen gingerbread men to decorate with gumdrop buttons may be your choice this year. However, if you’re willing to go to the extremes, this may be your year to create the ultimate gingerbread house. Whether you’re a fashion designer for the gingerbread men army, or the newest member of the gingerbread house design team, magic is going to happen in your house this Christmas. When you complete your creation, it may even look so good you won’t want to eat it!

It’s no question why snicker doodles are our number three pick for the best Christmas cookies. If you’ve ever had a snicker doodle, you know the taste of cinnamon practically does the tango on your taste buds. However, if you have never had a snicker doodle, then you have not lived my friend. This cinnamon creation is dusted with Cinnamon sugar and best when served warm. Unlike most circle cookies, the snicker doodle always manages to stay soft and never flattens. I don’t know if it’s sparkle of cinnamon, or the sparkle of Christmas that make these cookies a favorite. One thing is for certain, they’re magical.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – How Each Ingredient Works

You will often hear, “My chocolate chip cookies did not turn out.” Inevitably it is then quickly blamed on the recipe used, and then the quest for a new recipe ensues. The odds are that the recipe used was just fine, but how the cookie ingredients were measured and mixed probably had more to do with the poor outcome.

There are so many recipes to choose from, it can be confusing. Each recipe will produce a similar tasting product, but depending on how the ingredients were used, each recipe will produce a cookie with its own set of textural characteristics and traits.

  • Butter: This is the fat that makes a cookie rich and palatable. Unsalted butter is the best to use as you can better control the salt amount in your recipe.
  • White and brown sugar: These sugars sweeten the cookie while also adding textural qualities. More brown sugar will make a soft chewy cookie while large amounts of white sugar will make a drier crispy cookie.
  • Eggs: Eggs are emulsifiers. This means that they help keep fats evenly distributed throughout the cookie making it thick and stable.
  • Extracts: Flavoring that give pastries a subtle underlying flavor. The most common extracts for a chocolate chip cookie are vanilla and almond.
  • All-Purpose flour: This is the most common flour found in the household kitchen, and the most recommended for baking cookies. The more flour used, the more dense the cookie. Self rising flour is not recommended.
  • Leavening agents: Baking powder and baking soda are the two most common gas producing agents that are used to make the cookie rise in the oven. Soda will produce a cookie that spreads more, as a double acting baking powder will make a fluffier cookie.
  • Salt: Salt actually enhances the sweetness and all the other flavors in the cookie. Sea salt is the best because it is a pure fine salt without additives.
  • Chocolate Chips: Semi-sweet chocolate chunks were in the first ever chocolate chip cookie, however, any flavor can be put into this classic cookie recipe.
  • Nuts: Nuts are optional in any cookie recipe, but add a crunchy texture and added layer of flavor. Walnuts and pecans are the most classic choice.

No matter which way you like your chocolate chip cookie, this is the most common set of ingredients that go into a basic recipe. Since the first cookie was made in 1933 there have been many alterations to the original recipe, but few recipes stray far from the tried and true classic list of ingredients.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever

Many people like to treat their families to home-baked goodies. As just about everyone knows, America’s favorite cookie is the good old Chocolate Chip. Recipes and variations abound, and often families have their own versions of this most-loved sweet. What some people may not be aware of, though, is the origin of this cookie. The story goes that a Massachusetts innkeeper by the name of Ruth Wakefield accidentally invented the scrumptious diet-breaker. It seems Mrs. Wakefield was baking a batch of chocolate cookies in the kitchen of the Toll House Inn and substituted grated chocolate bits for melted chocolate. Apparently, Ruth was hoping that the chocolate bits would melt and mix into the batter as they baked. It seems she was wrong. Her mistake, however, became one of this country’s all-time favorite treats.

There are many variations of the Chocolate Chip cookie. Some popular ones include:

* Replacing the typical walnuts in the recipe with macadamias; * Mixing different types of chips with the chocolate, such as butterscotch or peanut butter; * Adding dried fruits, like raisins or cranberries.

My clan prefers the solidly unpretentious, classic chocolate chip cookie. Following is the recipe for my family’s favorite after-school snack, which is the classic Toll House version.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 2 cups semi-sweet morsels, 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla, and the eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts by hand.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe makes approximately 60 delicious cookies.