Holiday Cookies

IMG_6894Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I’ve been so behind on my blog, but I’m hoping these 3 cookie recipes will make up for it!  Holidays for me, especially Christmas, are all about family, friends and traditions.  And baking cookies is a tradition almost everyone has.

IMG_6854Growing up, my grandmom Carrie would make her famous Sand Tarts, a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe.  They are thin, crispy, and addicting.  My grandmom would make them by the dozen and would fill huge tins with them. They’re a family favorite, and I know my grandmom would be happy to know the tradition has been carried on. (I even use her rolling pin and cookie cutters to make them.)

IMG_6819Another cookie I like to make are Gumdrop Cookies.  The recipe comes from Art Smith’s cookbook Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family.  They were his grandmother Mabel’s recipe.  The gumdrops give the cookies a festive appearance and a unique flavor.  They’re a mix of chewy and crispy-the perfect combination!  The original recipe calls for sweetened flaked coconut and chopped pecans.  I use unsweetened shredded coconut and omit the pecans.

IMG_6830Lastly, I made Brown Butter Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Yummmmmmm!!!!  For the cookie base, you can use your favorite standard chocolate chip cookie recipe except you substitute in brown butter (beurre noisette if you’re feeling fancy) .  It imparts in a nutty flavor, and if you’ve never used brown butter in recipes, you’re missing out!  It’s great in these cookies and can be used in savory dishes like butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and sage.

Sand Tarts
Ingredients
2 cups flour, plus extra flour for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 (or more if needed) egg yolks, lightly beaten to combine (do this right before baking the cookies)
Mixture of cinnamon and sugar

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add 1 egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients, in increments, to the butter and sugar mixture and mix over medium speed.  Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill overnight.

IMG_6851When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 400ºF.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  You want to keep the dough cold so roll it out in sections, while keeping the unused portions in the fridge till needed.  The dough should be no more than a 1/4″ thick or thinner if you can get it that thin.  Use various shaped cookie cutters to form.  Place on cookie sheets and brush with the egg yolk and sprinkle with a good amount of the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.  Cool briefly on the cookie tray and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Gumdrop Cookies
IngredientsIMG_6817
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups quick-cooking oats (I used old-fashioned oats)
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup spice (or fruit-flavored) gumdrops , cut in half

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the shortening and the sugars on high speed until light in color and texture.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture in increments.  Stir in the oats, coconut, and gumdrops with a large, heavy spoon.

Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.  Place 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets and flatten slightly with a the tines of a fork.  Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
IngredientsIMG_6821
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup caramel squares, cut into 1/4s
Coarse Kosher salt or sea salt

IMG_6826Preheat oven to 375ºF.  To brown the butter, heat a medium saucepan to medium-high heat. Add the butter, whisking frequently.  The butter will start to become frothy on the top and brown specks will start to form along the bottom.  Watch closely because this happens quickly, and you don’t want the butter to burn.  Once the butter starts to brown, you will smell a nutty aroma.  Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl, and let it cool to room temperature.


In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat the cooled brown butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.  Form tablespoons of the dough around the caramel squares.  Make sure the caramel is completely covered and place onto ungreased baking sheets.  Flatten slightly and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I hope you enjoy all of these cookies!!!
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