Cookie baking is in full swing now, alternating with gift-wrapping and Christmas decorating. Since drop cookies make it all so much easier, today we offer a choice of options, all of which accept a variety of substitute fruit/nut ingredients. We’ll begin with a choice of chocolate drop cookies. Enjoy!
(About 4 dozen)
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup pure cane sugar
1&1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
Set oven at 350F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
Cream butter and granulated sugar together in large bowl. Blend in vanilla and egg.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and butter milk to creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool. Frost if desired.*
Tip: Make any drop cookie into a “thumbprint” cookie, by pressing a depression in the center of the cookies (I use a thimble) before baking. After removing from the oven, you can place your chosen filler in the depressions while still warm. Chocolate kisses, candied cherries or other candied fruit — or a walnut or even a drop of jelly that best enhances the cookies are all possibilities.
*Another favorite “dress-up” is to have a generous bowlful of powdered sugar at hand, and immediately upon removing cookies from oven, after a few minutes of cooling, carefully and gently put two or three into the bowl and dredge with the powdered sugar (as per my photo), returning to the rack to finish cooling. While dredging, gently press the sugar onto the cookies to adhere well. After complete cooling, you may give another light dredge if you wish, gently tapping sides of cookies to reduce shedding of the powdered sugar. When completely cooled, store in waxed paper to protect them.
Chunky Chocolate Cookies
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup firm-packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp, vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 8-ounce pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels (or coarsely chop whole chocolate)
Set oven at 375F.
Mix flour, soda and salt in bowl.
In larger bowl, cream butter, gradually beating in sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Blend in vanilla, egg and sour cream. Gradually add flour mixture, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in nuts and chocolate.
Drop by scant quarter cupfuls (1/4 cup) onto baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove carefully with spatula onto racks. Makes 2 dozen large cookies.
Note: You may add 1/2 cup raisins to the batter if you wish.
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/3 cups (about) shredded coconut
Set oven at 325F. Lightly butter cookie sheets.
Melt chocolate with butter over very low heat in heavy saucepan, stirring constantly until smooth; remove from heat.
Blend in sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla; beat well. Stir in coconut. Drop from teaspoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches between.
Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes about 3 dozen.
Pumpkin Cookies with
2½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Set oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside. In mixer bowl, combine and mix the sugars, then add the butter and beat well. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again.
Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix until light and fluffy.
At low speed, blend in flour mixture. Stir in raisins and nuts just until evenly distributed.
Drop by tablespoonsful onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake 20-24 minutes or until tester in center of cookie comes out clean. Cool and frost.
* Or mixture of 1/2 tsp. EACH nutmeg and cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. cloves
Ginger Cream cheese Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Scant ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 to 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (or more) water
Beat cream cheese, butter and ginger together until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and thin with water to proper spreading consistency. Spread frosting on each cookie
Tip: You may choose to frost the cookies with chocolate glaze for a more festive presentation.
White Chocolate Cookies
1 cup EACH butter and firm-packed brown sugar
¾ cup granulated cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon EACH baking soda and salt
2 cups uncooked regular oats
2 6-ounce packages white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped (or equal amount white chocolate chips)
1 cup dried cherries*
Beat butter at medium speed w/electric mixer until fluffy, gradually adding sugars, beating well. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well, then stir in oats, white chocolate and cherries.
Scoop up 1 tablespoon rounds of dough and drop 2 inches apart on UNgreased cookie sheets, Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool 2 minutes on sheets, then remove to wire racks to cool. Makes about 5 dozen.
* You may opt for craisins, or chopped dates or dried apricots as you wish.
May your Christmas be truly happy and filled with love and joy! “God bless us, every one”!
Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 208-265-4688.