Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Cookies!

After all that belly-aching, I FINALLY finished the decking the halls!  Woo Hoo!!
And to celebrate, I started baking Christmas cookies.  Depending on the year, I typically make 6 - 8 different kinds of cookies, bars and candies around the holidays.  This year, I am trying to SIMPLIFY (mostly unsuccessfully), so I've narrowed it down to only three types of cookies: 
  1. The All-Time-Favorite-Absolute-Best-Ever-You-Have-To-Make-These-and-You-Will-Thank-Me-Later-For-These Peanut Butter Cookies
  2. Cowboy Cookies (No clue where the name comes from)
  3. Chocolate Crinkles
Last night I made the dough for the PB and Cowboy cookies, and put it in the freezer.  I did cook up a tray of each so I'd have pictures to share with you.

If you're going to make both cookies on the same day, start with the Peanut Butter because they have to chill and you can make the Cowboy Cookies while they're in the freezer.

Step One:  Put on your very best outfit...

Yep, that's me.  Flannel pj pants and cold feet - sooooo pretty!  :-)

Step Two:  For inspiration, multi-tasking, and to make some room on your DVR, pull up those unwatched episodes of Top Chef to play while you're working away in the kitchen.

Now, get busy.  Gather your ingredients - the first picture is for the Peanut Butter, the second is for the Cowboy

 For the Peanut Butter Cookies, cream together the butter and sugar, add the vanilla and peanut butter, sift together the dry ingredients, and then slowly combine the two.

Transfer the dough to a large ziploc bag and chill for several hours.  I put it in the freezer for about two hours because I was in a hurry.

 Start on the Cowboy Cookies.  Cream the butter and Eagle Brand until they are smooth, mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then gradually add to butter mixture.  Stir in coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips.

 Scoop/spoon onto cookie trays, and bake.

While you're waiting, notice how cute your new hand towels from Crate and Barrel look. 

Remember you have silpats and find them, realizing you should have used them under these cookies, and even though you don't really need them for the Peanut Butter cookies you're going to use them anyway because it's just a matter of principle now.

Take cookies out of the oven and cool for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to fully cool.  Test - YUM!  (Then bake 3 more trays).

When you're done baking the Cowboy Cookies, the Peanut Butter dough should be chilled enough to bake.  Roll into 1 1/2" balls and place on silpat lined (or not) trays.  Dip the tines of a fork in sugar and make the classic cross hatch designs on each cookie, pressing the cookie slightly flat.  These will spread some while baking, but not much.  Put them in the oven.

Remove from oven, remove to wire racks to cool.  Quality Control Test, YUM!  Passed!  When fully cooled, gently place in 1 gallon ziploc freezer bags and return to freezer until it's time to package them up for gifting.

Thank you for reading the longest post ever and ENJOY!!!  Here are the recipes.

The All-Time-Favorite-Absolute-Best-Ever-You-Have-To-Make-These-and-You-Will-Thank-Me-Later-For-These Peanut Butter Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter (I ran out so I used one butter and one margarine), softened
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
18 oz. peanut butter (this is 1 small jar - you can use creamy or crunchy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat.  Add peanut butter and mix well.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture and beat until smooth.
  3. Chill dough for several hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Form dough into 1 1/2" balls and place on cookie sheet.  Use the tines of a fork dipped in sugar to press down slightly on cookies and make cross-hatch pattern.
  6. Bake for 8 - 11 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies.  (I prefer the 8 - 9 minute cookie).
  7. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Cowboy Cookies

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 2/3 cups coconut
2 cups (12-ounce bag) chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Beat Eagle Brand and butter until smooth.
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Gradually add to butter mixture.
  4. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.
  5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets (silpats are great for these cookies because they have a tendency to stick if left cooling on the pan too long).
  6. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Cool on trays for 1 -2 minutes

Edie at LifeinGrace is having a Cookie Exchange Party - I'm linking up over there - come join the fun!