Holiday Cookies

14 December 2022

Baking is a mainstay of the end of the year with all of its holidays.  Whether it is a family activity or gifts intended for relatives, friends, or rewards, it can be fun to try some recipes that you haven’t baked before.

Sandbakelser

This is a Swedish cookie translated as “sand bars” originally made in copper molds but you can easily substitute a tart mold.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup blanched almonds, ground finely*
  • 4 unblanched almonds, ground finely*
  • 7/8 cup (1 cup less 2 tablespoons) softened butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

* Substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Directions:

  • Combine almonds (or vanilla and extract), butter, sugar and egg
  • Add flour
  • Chill dough and press into molds.
  • Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until delicately browned.
  • Tap to loosen cookies from the mold

 

Merry Christmas Cookies

These can be made in either a dark or light version and are great to cut into traditional shapes or to form into a wreath or hang on a tree.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup soft shortening
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger

For a Light Dough substitute honey for the molasses and granulated sugar for the brown and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract in place of the spices.

Directions:

  • Combine shortening, sugar, egg, and molasses or honey until thoroughly incorporated
  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt, spices or extract and add to the previous mixture.
  • Chill dough
  • Roll to ¼ inch thickness.
  • Cut into shapes and bake about 8 to 10 minutes at 375 degrees on a greased baking sheet or parchment paper. They are done when touched lightly with a finger, no imprint remains
  • Decorate as desired.

Mandel Kager

These almond cookies hail from Norway.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening, part butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped and toasted

Directions:

  • Thoroughly mix shortening, sugar and egg
  • Stir in mixture of flour, baking powder, cinnamon and cardamom
  • Add almonds
  • Chill dough
  • Roll into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly.
  • Brush top with egg glaze (1 slightly beate egg yolk with one tablespoon of water).
  • Top each with an almond half
  • Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown

Gingerbread People

The gingerbread used to construct houses is usually denser and less tasty but is necessary for structural integrity.  Ideally the cookie should be soft in the center but crispy on the edges.  They should be firm enough to hold their shape during decorating.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups dark molasses
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teasppon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda dissoved in 3 tablespoons of cold water

Directions:

  • Combine shortening, sugar, and molasses. Then mix in ½ cup of cold water.
  • Separately mix together flour, salt, and spices. Stir into the mixture.
  • Lastly add the baking soda and water mixture.
  • Chill dough.
  • Roll to a thickness of ½ inch and use cookie cutters or a knife and homemade pattern.
  • Optionally press in raisins for eyes, nose, etc. and candied cherries for buttons.
  • Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet or parchment paper but be sure to space the cookies well apart, since they may spread. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Allow to cool and complete decorating with royal icing and other candy pieces.

All of the recipes in this week’s article came from a vintage 1950s-era Betty Crocker cookbook that was passed down from mother to daughter.

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