I have been negligent again. I have been very tied up and while we are waiting for a special guest blogger, I thought I’d post pictures of the few Christmas cookies I made this year. I usually add half a dozen more types, but like I said, I’ve been busy!
Clockwise, starting with the front are my Cocoa-Gingerbread Men,(with Angels, and new this year, Teddy Bears.) Next are Peanut Butter Stamped Cookies,(Santas), above them are the not-so-pretty-but-delicious Pineapple Date Nut Cookies, (sprinkles help a little!).Next to them are Cherry-Nut Cookies,(with a few Basic Cookies).I see that some candy sneaked into the picture,(Nut Clusters, in the round bowl in the back).The white, sprinkled cookies to the right are Date-Nut Meringues; in the jar are Basic Cookies, dressed up for Christmas and in the middle are Spice Cookies.(The recipes for the last two are in the October archives).
So, if you are doing last-minute baking, or looking for new recipes for your New Year’s celebrations, I have these here for you. Round cookies made with clock faces, or star-shaped are particularly fitting for New Year’s Eve, as would be any cookie with plenty of sprinkles… Ring in the New Year!
Of course, you don’t have to just make these for the holidays, but it is always nice to have a few that people look forward to, to make holidays special. Since the Date-Nut Meringues have no flour, they would be appropriate for Passover and for people who need a gluten-free diet.
The Date-Nut Meringue recipe came from an old magazine insert that my mother had. I adapted it just a bit.
Whites of 2 large eggs
Dash of salt
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp.vanilla, (or a dash of vanilla powder) OPTIONAL
1 8oz. package of dried dates, chopped
1 cup of walnuts, chopped
Decors or sprinkles, if desired,(or sprinkle with ground nuts)
Preheat oven to 210F. Spray with cooking/baking pan spray or grease/ oil cookie sheets.(Even if using parchment paper; these babies want to STICK!)
Make meringue, not too dry. To do so, beat egg whites until foamy, add salt and vanilla, (if using). Beat on high speed and add sugar slowly. Beat until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted.(If you had any accident, a little egg yolk was in the whites, the bowl or beaters were not completely grease-free, your meringue will NOT peak. Don’t despair; your cookies should still work, as long as your ‘meringue’ is not runny).
Fold in the walnuts and dates,(mix gently).Drop by spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for approximately 1 ½ hours. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to sit until the oven is cool,(or overnight).You want the cookies dry, but not hard. Trust me, even if they get brittle, they are still good! Remove from the cookie sheets gently.
My mother always made me use a long, thin decorating spatula to remove cookies from the sheets, never a ‘pancake turner’. Now that Mom is gone, feel free to use one, but don’t pick up more than one soft one at a time; they’ll become misshapen.
Another thing I will do is pass along Mom’s carefully-guarded Cherry-Nut Cookie recipe. I was sworn to secrecy on this one, but I had promised one woman who begged and begged that I would give it to her after my mother left us. When Mom died, I had to track the woman down over several states, but I followed through. My mother was an incredible cook, no one, not even I, to whom she taught everything, can duplicate her touch. (If yours come out as good as hers did, more power to you!) My mother taught me everything because I could keep a secret. Mom would have me continue to be the keeper of the keys to the locked food cabinet. I realized some time ago that I have no intention of keeping that family tradition. My grandmother took very many recipes to her grave; it makes no sense.(More on this when we discuss Spaghetti sauce in the future).
So, please eat these with love.
1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon sifted all purpose flour(I don’t know why, but it does make a difference)
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup sugar
1 egg , divided (separate white and yolk)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1Tbsp. grated orange rind (fresh)
¾ cup minced walnuts
Candied or Maraschino cherries * see note
Cream the butter or margarine and sugar,(beat until fluffy)
Add salt and egg yolk; mix well
Add vanilla, lemon juice and orange rind, mix well
Add flour and mix well; dough will be soft
Refrigerate until cold and firm
(Do you realize I grew up doing all this creaming and mixing by hand? They were worth it, but a mixer is easier!)
Beat the egg white slightly, with about a teaspoonful of water. When the dough is firm, shape it into small balls and dip them into the egg white, then roll them in the nuts. Place 2″ apart on cookie sheets. Press half of a cherry into the middle of each cookie. Bake at 325F for about 20 minutes or until the bottoms as slightly browned.
- *Note:My mother insisted on using candied cherries, despite the fact that none of us could stand them; we ate all around them and threw them away. My sister came up with the idea of using Maraschino cherries and told me to suggest it to Mom. If looks could kill, you wouldn’t be reading this now. She thought it was an abomination; but I always only use Maraschinos.
- By the way, she would also do some in red cherries and some in green; I don’t always bother. My nieces used to call them “Stop and Go Cookies”; it seems the Christmas color idea was lost on them and they saw traffic lights!
(Adapted from Hershey’s Old-Fashioned Christmas)
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup light molasses,(do not use dark or Blackstrap)
½ cup light brown sugar, packed** (see note)
½ tsp. baking soda
3 cups flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. brandy,(or vanilla )
Cream the butter or margarine with the sugar and add molasses. Beat in the egg and baking soda. Slowly beat in the cocoa; then slowly add the flour. Chill. Roll out on lightly floured board to about ¼ inch and cut into desired shapes. Place on greased or parchment-covered cookie sheets 1 ½-2 inches apart and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch,(do not over-cook).Remove to cookie sheet and cool. Decorate with Royal icing,(October archives).
Pineapple Date Nut Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cups well-packed light brown sugar**(see note)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large cans crushed pineapple or finely chopped other canned pineapple,(approx.2 cups), drained.(I used the one packed in juice, then simply drink the juice)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup minced,(finely chopped) dates
¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Sprinkles, jimmies, decors, etc. (if using)
Mix the drained pineapple with baking soda in a non-aluminum bowl; set aside.(it will fizzle or bubble.)
Cream butter with egg and sugars until light and fluffy; add baking powder, mix well.
Add pineapple mixture; add the flour, mix well.
Add the dates and nuts, mix well.
Drop onto greased or parchment –lined cookie sheets by spoonfuls 1″apart. Apply sprinkles,(if using). Bake at 325F for about 30 minutes,(start checking after 20). These cookies need to dry, as they are very wet. Allow them to become browned on the bottom. If they are still wet in the middle, allow them to stand in the warm oven for longer. They may seem to become a bit chewy, but they are good. Cool completely before storing loosely covered,(or they will stick together). Store in one layer or with parchment or wax paper in between layers in a closed container.
These are often many people’s favorite cookie.
**Note:Brown sugar is measured ‘packed’, that is, pressed into a measuring cup , compressed as much as possible with the palm of your hand or knuckles.
I hope all are having fun preparing for the holidays and that they are stress-free. I stressed-out over all of it for too long. I did plenty this year, even though I cut back, and yet, all are eating well, (too well!), and enjoying the decorations, while the CD’s or Christmas movies play away!
I have not yet taken the time to investigate the possibilities of these recipes using vegan egg substitutes. I have, however, found a site that is a wealth of information:
The Best Vegan Egg Substitutes for Vegan Cooking and Vegan Baking
I have every intention of making a sincere effort to find the time to check these out and do some experimenting in the coming year.
Otherwise, all of the recipes are ovo-vegetarian friendly.