Holiday baked goodsThere's something about the holidays...

TIDBITS

November 29, 1992|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

Holiday baked goods

There's something about the holidays. Maybe it's the wonderful aromas recollected from childhood. Maybe it's the generally festive air that says it's time for a treat. Maybe it's something the kids have to have for school. Whatever the reason, this is a season when a lot of people head into the kitchen and bake cookies and other treats. There's nothing like the old favorites -- chocolate chip cookies from the back of the chocolate-chip package. Butter cookies in the shape of trees or stars.

But the baking universe is infinitely expandable and every year brings a new batch of great-sounding goodies from the people who make some of the ingredients that go into them.

If you don't bake often, you may end up with more questions than cookies. But there's a way to get answers and tips on all holiday baking projects. Land O' Lakes operates a Holiday Bakeline that's available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST through Dec. 24 -- that includes Saturdays and Sundays and even Thanksgiving Day. All callers will receive a free leaflet, "Heartwarming Gifts from the Kitchen," with baking tips and ideas for wrapping home-baked presents. The toll-free number is (800) 782-9606. These three recipes are from Crisco. The first two are just for eating, but the cookies in the last recipe can double as Christmas ornaments -- before you eat them.

Irresistible peanut butter cookies

Makes 3 dozen.

1/2 cup butter flavor solid shortening

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 egg

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well-blended. Add egg. Beat until just well-blended.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

Drop by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheet. (As a variation, you can flatten each slightly in crisscross pattern with the tines of a fork.)

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until set and just beginning to brown. Cool two minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack.

The ultimate chocolate chip cookie

Makes 3 dozen.

3/4 cup butter-flavor solid shortening

1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 egg

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup large pecan pieces (optional) (See note)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well-blended. Beat in egg.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture until just well-blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop rounded teaspoonsful of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies (they will look light and moist -- do not over-bake), 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to cooling rack.

Note: If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Ornament cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

2/3 cup butter flavor solid shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 bag (8 ounces) sour ball candies, assorted colors

Combine shortening, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well-blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour and salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture. Mix at low speed until well blended. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Divide sour balls by color. Place each color in a double thickness of plastic bags. Wrap one bag at a time in a dish towel. Crush sour balls with a hammer, rolling pin or meat mallet into approximately 1/8 -inch pieces.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with foil. Grease foil with solid shortening.

Roll half the dough to about 1-inch thickness on floured surface. Cut out with 3-inch round cookie cutter (or other shape). Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. For a stained-glass effect, cut shapes in the cookies with small cookie cutters or a sharp knife -- or use small shapes cut out of cardboard -- and fill cut-out areas with crushed candies, using tip of a small knife.

Press end of straw or skewer through cookie at top to make hole for hanging ribbon. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until candy has melted and cookies are lightly browned around edges. Cool completely. Peel foil from cookies. Can be stored in airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.

8, For hanging, string ribbon through hole.

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