Butter ‘Finger’ Cookies

Today’s post is another one for all the people who may be reading this and think that they can’t bake. I understand. I used to feel that way too. But believe me when I say that there are some recipes out there that are near impossible to mess up. I don’t just mean box mix recipes, either. Despite what you think, it IS possible to bake certain things from scratch, and not have to worry about blowing it because it’s just too simple.

I’ve made these cookies numerous times before when I needed a dessert to take somewhere to pass at a social function, and either didn’t have a lot of time or just didn’t feel like doing much work. Everybody loves butter cookies. These come together in minutes and bake in pretty much the same amount of time.

You probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients to make this in your house already. I think the best part is that you don’t have to worry about rolling them out and fooling with any cookie cutters. Just spoon all the dough in a bag (and yes, you *can* just use a ziploc bag and snip off the end) and pipe it out in tiny little sticks. They don’t have to be straight. In fact, I purposely piped mine into kind of oval-ish shapes so that when they baked, they would resemble little ‘fingers’.

I used vanilla emulsion, but this dough can be flavored in pretty much anyway you want. I think they’d be wonderful with lemon or orange. Once they’re done baking, you can dip them in chocolate and sprinkles to jazz them up. These are a perfect little snack to have alongside coffee, tea or cocoa. They transport very well and the freshness also lasts when stored in a sealed plastic container.

Get into these, y’all. They’re worth it.

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Butter 'Finger' Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla butter emulsion (like LorAnn Oils, but vanilla extract will work fine too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla emulsion.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag or a gallon size Ziploc plastic bag fitted with a decorating tip (I used a Wilton 6B tip, but if you don’t have one, it’s not necessary, they just won’t be ridged) and pipe it into curved or straight sticks that you space about 2 inches apart on the sheet. Once finished, refrigerate the sheet pan for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little bit more sugar. Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #267, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl.

Red Velvet Cookies

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day.

I know I’m overdue for a new post and I didn’t want to let this holiday go by without finding an excuse to bake something red and/or Red Velvet Flavored. It’s become somewhat of a tradition for me here on the blog and I like keeping up with tradition.

This year I’m keeping it’s nice and simple and bringing over a batch of cookies. Red Velvet flavored cookies.

Aren’t they pretty?

A couple weeks back I made a post where I sang the praises of moon cake molds as stamps/cutters for making the prettiest cookies you ever did see. I’ve done it before in several existing posts on the blog, and I still can’t recommend them enough. They take ordinary cookie dough and turn it into sheer, edible art.

The dough for these cookies is pretty straightforward. They’re flavored with melted chocolate, cocoa powder as well as LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion, another product for which I can’t recommend strongly enough. Most people think that Red Velvet flavor is really ‘just’ chocolate. I used to think that too; this emulsion proved me wrong. Red Velvet definitely has chocolate flavor, but LorAnn’s emulsion gives it that tangy aftertaste that automatically makes me think of a red velvet cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Su-blime.

Be sure to refrigerate your cookie dough until it is thoroughly chilled. I usually let mine chill overnight in the fridge. The colder it is, the better it will hold it’s shape/design. Have extra powdered sugar on deck for you to dip your cookie stamps in, as well as for the dough itself. I try to avoid using flour to roll out cookie dough, as adding extra flour just adds more gluten, which dulls the flavor and can make them taste bland.

Enjoy!

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Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Springerle Joy

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons Red Velvet Emulsion (Like LorAnn Oils)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry, powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the baking powder, dry milk and salt. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the Red Velvet emulsion, vanilla extract, melted chocolate chips and cocoa powder.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, in about 3 increments, stirring just until combined.

Scrape dough out into one disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Divide dough into quarters. Keep the other 3 portions in the fridge while you work with the one.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie stamps into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough. Use a slightly larger round cookie cutter to cut out shape, then transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes.

Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Allow to sit on baking sheets for about 60 seconds before removing to cool completely on wire racks.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing these at this week’s Fiesta Friday #263.

Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

So, here’s a random but I think very useful tip for those of you who love to bake: the prettiest cookies do not have to come from cookie cutters, or cookie stamps.

At least, not most of them. I will say that certain springerle molds can make absolutely beautiful, unreal looking cookies. The problem with most springerle molds is that because they’re hand-crafted wood, they don’t run cheap.

I got into collecting cookie stamps a little while ago and although I got some pretty nice ones, the designs weren’t as elaborate as the springerle molds, which was what I really wanted. Then one day, I was surfing the web for cookie stamps, and stumbled across something different. They were called moon cakes. Mooncakes are Chinese pastries that are typically eaten during the Mid-Autumn festival. I’ve never had one and had never heard of them until then; all I knew that the designs on top of them were beautiful.

Traditional mooncakes are made with what’s called a mooncake mold. It’s a plunger like tool where the ball of filled pastry gets pressed into a shaped mold, then imprinted on top with the intricate design. After I’d done my quick Google search to learn how THAT was done, I then turned to the thought that aligned with my interest: would I be able to use the mooncake mold as a cookie stamp?

Since they were much, MUCH more cheaper than springerle molds, I decided to take a chance and ordered a set of mooncake molds to put my theory to the test. They came in a couple of days and within hours I was in the kitchen rolling out cookie dough. What do you y’all think? Was I right, or was I right?

A couple of things: first, this is a recipe that can be made with ANY cookie stamp, mold or cutter you have. The dough is a basic butter cookie that is flavored with cinnamon and vanilla but you can always switch the flavors up to what you’re inclined towards. It bakes up crisp on the outside and tender on the inside–just as a butter cookie should be. Second, if this post has inspired you to buy and test out mooncake molds for yourself, I would recommend to always use a cookie dough that has been designated as a cut-out cookie recipe. There’s no point in going to the trouble of using the mold if the recipe is one that doesn’t hold it’s shape or design after baking.

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Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the cinnamon and salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie stamps into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough. Use a slightly larger round cookie cutter to cut out shape, then transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.*

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes

Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 9-12 minutes. Allow to set on sheets for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Linking to the Fiesta Friday #258, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies

Today’s recipe is a reminder that great things really do happen at Christmas.

A few months back, I wrote a post about how cookie presses and I just didn’t ‘get along’ with each other. I had owned two up to that point and neither one of them worked, no matter what I did. It was frustrating. I think that cookie presses were made for this time of year. They’re an easy way to make a LOT of pretty cookies with little effort and in a very short turn around time. I really wanted to be able to make some.

I don’t like giving up. So, I decided to give the whole cookie press thing one more try and went scouring the internet for reviews of some of the ‘wider known’ models on the market. I finally settled on the OXO Cookie Press, as it had the most consistently positive reviews and the stencils that came with it were ones that I preferred to other brands. It stayed on my Amazon wishlist for a while, but one day I decided to get myself a little something for Christmas and bought it.

Not gonna lie, I was a tad bit nervous about whether or not it was going to turn out. Oftentimes baking appliances and tools with come with a tiny recipe booklet, so I decided to go with one that was in the booklet that came with the OXO cookie press. I figured it had to be safest bet. The recipe was for gingerbread cookies. I thought that it would be cute to use the teddy bear stencil, and if it turned out, share for the 12 Days of Christmas.

The recipe for the dough comes together much in the same way as most other cookie doughs. The main difference here is in the chilling time. If you’ve ever used one of the cookie recipes I’ve shared on the blog before, you’ll know that I’m a strong advocate for overnight chilling. Most cookie doughs need that extra time to minimize spreading and maintain their shape. However, when it comes to spritz cookies, overnight chilling is the wrong move. You don’t want the dough to be room temp or warm, but if it’s TOO cold then it won’t be pliable enough to press through the metal plates of the cookie press. So, for these 30 minutes of chilling in the fridge will do just fine.

With spritz cookies, the dough has to be at the right temperature and the baking sheets should also be extremely cold when you press the dough out onto them. I don’t know why, but it helps the dough come out cleaner. Place your baking sheets in the freezer prior to even getting started so that by the time you’re ready to press, they’re nice and chilled. No greasing the sheet or (as I usually do) using parchment paper. Don’t worry; they won’t stick.

The entire process to make these was incredibly easy, and quick. I couldn’t have been happier with how they came out, in look or taste. If you’re looking for a cookie press to buy, I give my unpaid & completely enthusiastic recommendation to go with OXO’s.

Just one more day of the 12 Days of Christmas! Stay tuned for the final recipe to be posted tomorrow.

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

DAY 5: GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS

DAY 6: HOLIDAY SPICE S’MORES

DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS

DAY 8: GINGERBREAD CUT OUTS

DAY 9: ROSEMARY & THYME CRACKERS

DAY 10: SUGAR CRUNCH COOKIES

DAY 11: GINGERBREAD SPRITZ COOKIES

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of OXO

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temp
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly.

In a medium bowl combine the flour with the salt and spices and stir together with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla and stir just until combined.

Gradually add the flour into the mixture, in about 3 batches, just until it’s combined.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place chilled dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Allow to sit on baking sheet for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #255, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Sugar Crunch Cookies

I want to take this opportunity today, on the 10th Day of Christmas to share a newfound Christmas miracle with all of you.

Every year, I look forward to when the ‘seasonal foods’ start popping up in the grocery stores–the ones that are only sold from about early November to early January. I’ve got some tried and true favorites, but this year I discovered a new one.

I know it’s the fan favorite, but even when I was a kid, Cinnamon Toast Crunch never really ‘did it’ for me. It’s just so, so SO sweet. Plus, there was something about the puffy texture of the cereal that I never liked. So I didn’t eat too much of it. Honey Bunches of Oats & Honey Nut Cheerios–that’s my kind of racket. However, I was in Target a little while ago on the cereal aisle and I happened to see a pretty red box of cereal with the following words written on it:

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch

Now y’all know me. You KNOW how I am about sugar cookies. (I adore them.) I had to at least give this stuff a try, especially since it was a seasonal product and wouldn’t be around forever.

So the verdict is in and yeah, Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch is a bonafide Christmas miracle. Milk improves the taste of most cereals, but when it’s comes to those that are delicious eaten dry, this is the best one I’ve had since Waffle Crisp–and that’s saying a lot. It has that rich, vanilla flavor that every great sugar cookie has, but unlike it’s counterpart Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it isn’t overly sweet. The texture is also better. It’s a perfect toasty golden sugar cookie in cereal form. Yum.

As delicious as SCTC is to eat on its own, my sister gave me the great idea that it would be an even better ingredient to try and bake with. I’ve seen a lot of recipes floating around the internet that use plain cornflakes, Fruity Pebbles or Golden Grahams and turn out great, so I decided to take inspiration from that to craft my own variation of a SCTC cereal holiday cookie for the 12 Days of Christmas.

Here’s what’s in ’em. I used a blend of all purpose and almond flour as a base to the dough. The almond flour gives it a nutty flavor that I think tempers the sweetness nicely, but if you’re nut-allergic you should be able to use all regular flour with no problems. I also added some dried cranberries to the dough for two reasons: I wanted to give some extra texture to the cookie, and I wanted to give a pop of tartness that I also think works well with the sweetness.

Un-chilled dough tends to result in cookies that spread a lot and so, after mixing crushed SCTC into the dough, I let it rest in the fridge overnight. I highly recommend that you do this in order to achieve the puffy round shape that you see in the pictures.  Aren’t they pretty, y’all? I think what I like most about these apart from the flavors is the texture–they’re soft and chewy, also yet crunchy from the cereal. They’re sweet from the cereal, but also toasty from the almond flour with that tang of tartness from the cranberries. It’s like the best Christmas compost cookie ever.

Just 2 days left of the 12 Days of Christmas! There’s still plenty of time to bake for the holidays, so feel free to check out the other recipes if you haven’t already.

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

DAY 5: GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS

DAY 6: HOLIDAY SPICE S’MORES

DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS

DAY 8: GINGERBREAD CUT OUTS

DAY 9: ROSEMARY & THYME CRACKERS

DAY 10: SUGAR CRUNCH COOKIES

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Sugar Crunch Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or finely ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, or cherries
  • 1 3/4 cups of Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch (or any cereal you like), lightly crushed
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the almond flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a handheld one, cream the butter and sugars together until they’re light & fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, stirring just until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, in 2 batches, stirring just until combined. Stir in the cranberries. Gently stir in 3/4 cup of the crushed cereal.

Scrape the dough into a sealable container and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour the remaining 1 cup of crushed cereal in a small bowl.

Use a 1/8 scoop (that’s about 2 tablespoons) to scoop out balls of dough. Roll each dough ball in the crushed cereal until it has a light coating. Place onto the parchment paper, about 1/2 inch apart. Press down a little on the tops to lightly flatten. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the cookies until light golden brown and puffy, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to set for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #255, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Gingerbread Cut Outs

In the very first post for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas I talked about how my love for this time of year is hugely inspired by all the baking that my mom and grandma did during the holiday season. They made lots of delicious things, but one of the most memorable of the treats was the gingerbread cookies. They shaped them into both gingerbread men and gingerbread teddy bears that we decorated with chocolate chips. They were so good.

For the most part I do try to introduce new, fresh recipes to the 12 Days of Christmas. I do it to give y’all some interesting options, challenge myself, and to find new holiday baking favorites for our house. Sometimes though, the classics are best. After all, what kind of Christmas would it be without a good, old-fashioned classic gingerbread cookie recipe to put to good use?

The gingerbread cookies that my mom and grandma made when I was a kid were thick, slightly soft, slightly chewy and full of strong, spicy flavor. I’ve made quite a few gingerbread cookies of my own, but most of them failed to tick off all of the above boxes at the same time. It’s difficult for one recipe to do that, I admit. But if any of y’all have been looking for a perfect gingerbread cookie recipe that’s good for cut outs, decorating, gift giving, Christmas tress decoration–anything really–then you can stop looking. Cause it’s right here.

What puts these gingerbread cookies above all the others I’ve had boils down to about three things: Spice, Texture, and Durability. Because the dough is generously seasoned, they’re slightly spicy–they have a ‘bite’ that lingers on your tongue, as it should. The texture is soft, but it does have a pleasant chew, especially towards the edges. These are also plenty durable enough to decorate (rather heavily if you like), ship in the mail, or even make them into Christmas tree ornaments (just pierce holes into the tops).

This recipe makes quite a bit of dough, so don’t be afraid to go big with the cookie cutters if you don’t want a whole bunch of leftovers sitting around your house, tempting you (and they WILL tempt you) . They hold their shape extremely well after baking, so don’t worry about designs getting lost in indiscernible blobs. That won’t happen.

Eight days into the 12 Days of Christmas now–don’t forget to check out the other recipes from the previous days below!

(Btw, aren’t these cookies 100xs better than 8 maids a milking?)

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

DAY 5: GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS

DAY 6: HOLIDAY SPICE S’MORES

DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS

DAY 8: GINGERBREAD CUT OUTS

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Gingerbread Cut Outs

Recipe Courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) packed brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup water

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter, sugar, salt and spices together until light and creamy.

Add the molasses and the egg, stirring just until combined. Use a spatula to intermittently scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Add half of the flour with the baking soda that’s been dissolved in the water on low speed. Stir in the remaining flour, mixing just until combined.

Scrape the dough into one large mound, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with powdered sugar. Divide the dough into quarters, keeping the other 3 in the fridge while you work with the 1. Using a rolling pin to roll out the quarter of dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use whatever cookie cutters you like to cut out the shapes, then transfer to baking sheets that you’ve lined with parchment paper. Leave about 1/2 inch space between the cookies.

Refrigerate the cut out cookies for about 10 minutes, then bake on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes. Let them rest on the baking sheet for about 65 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #254, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Christmas Elf Bites

Every year for the 12 Days of Christmas I try to include at least one recipe in the series for any of the followers or visitors to this blog who don’t like to cook or bake, or those who want to cook or bake but just don’t believe that they can.

You’ll notice that I specifically did NOT say that they *couldn’t* cook or bake–that was on purpose.

Take it from someone who not too long ago, couldn’t do much else but scramble eggs and boil water for pasta: you can cook. You can bake. You really can. Yes, even without the help of a cake mix or pre-made cookie dough. It’s possible. This holiday, you can bake 100% from scratch without messing it up, and come out with something you’ll not only enjoy, but be able to share with others who are definitely going to enjoy it too.

I don’t want to shame anyone who doesn’t like to bake or thinks that they can’t bake at all. It’s not something that everyone is going to love to do. I get that. But honestly, today’s recipe is about as easy and basic as you can get for baking without using a frozen dough–and I guarantee that this is going to taste better than ALL of those. (Baked goods made from scratch always do.)

This starts with a very simple, straightforward shortbread. Because it is so simple, I recommend your using a good butter for it. Generic butter has a much higher ratio of water in it, and therefore has less flavor. Name brand butter (especially the European ones) is far more cultured than generic. I don’t mean ‘culture’ as in sophistication–I mean that is has been churned longer in order to have a higher ratio of fat in it. More fat = flavor. You’d be surprised the difference it makes.

This is a rather whimsical themed recipe, and because I think almond extract gives a ‘whimsical’ flavor to baked goods, that’s what I used to flavor these. Vanilla will work just as well, as will citrus extract or zest you add to the flour as well. I also hand kneaded in some sprinkles to give them some color (don’t use a mixer to do this, it will make them bleed prematurely and they may stain messily while baking). The dough is first pressed into a square baking pan and chilled. From there, you lift it out of the pan in one block, cut it up into mini bite sized pieces, then bake.

And that’s literally it. 15 minutes later, you’re done. Sound easy enough?

These cookie bites are a delicious idea for gift giving & stocking stuffers. They’re easy enough to do with the kiddies. They’re small enough to have dessert without feeling guilty. Plus, I just find them cute to look at, so I gave them a cute “Christmas-y” themed name to match. Ho ho ho.

We just started the 12 Days of Christmas a few days ago, so go back and check out Day 1’s recipe if you haven’t seen it yet!

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

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Christmas Elf Bites

Recipe Courtesy of Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon multi-colored nonpareils

Directions

Line a square 8 or 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the salt and stir together with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the almond extract.

Slowly stir in the flour, mixing just until combined. Use your hands to gently knead in the nonpareils. Press the dough into the pan, doing your best to make the top smooth and flat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the corners of the paper to lift the dough out of the pan. Use a sharp knife, pizza wheel or a bench scraper to cut the dough into 1/2 inch squares. Gently place the squares about 1/2 inch apart on a sheet pan you’ve lined with parchment.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they’re just beginning to turn golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.