Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All Purpose Christmas Cookie Dough

This time of year it is helpful to have shortcuts that still turn out fabulous. Last year, I tried just making one dough and using it in many ways. I reviewed the recipes to some of our favorite Christmas cookies and saw how similar they were. Using the recipes as a guide, I came up with this recipe that has been wonderful! Now I start making multiple batches of this same dough in November and freeze it. As Christmas approaches, I turn it into all these different cookies. I've included it in the pantry mix section, it really is a freezer mix though. It does save so much time during the holidays!

The inspiration for these cookies came from some old Taste of Home magazines I have here at home. (Dec/Jan 2002 and 2004) I now just use my dough and follow their directions for forming the cookies. I've included their pictures and directions below so you can be inspired as well. My tips I share in parenthesis.

Note added 2013: Since developing this All Purpose Christmas Cookie Dough, I have baked hundreds and hundreds of cookies. I have branched out to additional types of cookies inspired by pictures from other bloggers. I include their pictures and links to their sites below. Again, I just use this one dough and make all these fabulous cookies by following their directions for coloring, forming, and or frosting the dough. I have done my best to link back to original recipes and give credit where credit is due. Pictures are so inspiring, I hope they inspire you as well. Cookie plates are so easy and fun to put together now that I have simplified the process and only use one recipe! 

Stop fretting over which recipe to try - just go make a huge batch of this dough!

All Purpose Christmas Cookie Dough

  • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients until you have a stiff dough. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use or freeze for later. 

Pinwheels and Checkerboards Recipe
Pinwheel and Checkerboard cookies

Additional ingredients:
  • Red and green gel food coloring
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Divide dough into fourths. Tint one portion red and one portion green. (I actually just tint some red and then stack it with the original dough so my pinwheels are red and white. It's a little less work, but it still gives a fun effect.) Stir chocolate into another portion. Wrap chocolate and plain portions in plastic wrap; chill for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  • For pinwheel cookies, divide red and green portions in half. Roll out each portion between waxed paper (I prefer using plastic wrap.) into a 9-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Remove waxed paper. Place one green rectangle over a red rectangle. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat. Chill for 2 hours or until firm. (Or freeze for later.)
  • For checkerboard cookies, divide plain and chocolate portions in half. Roll out each portion between waxed paper into a 6-in. x 4-in. rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into eight 1/2-in. strips.
  • Stack the strips in groups of four, alternating plain and chocolate strips and forming eight separate stacks. Form a four-stack block by alternating chocolate-topped and plain-topped stacks. Repeat. Press together gently. Wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours. (Or freeze for later.)
  • Unwrap and cut pinwheel and checkerboard dough into 1/4-in. slices. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 9-11 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. (These cookies freeze well after baking also. They taste fresh once thawing so they are an easy make ahead cookie. Some years I've even made them before Thanksgiving just to have them ready.)

Surprise Package Cookies Recipe
Andes Mint Surprise Cookies

Additional ingredients:
  • 65 Andes mint candies
  • With floured hands, shape a tablespoonful of dough around 42 candies, forming rectangular cookies. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.
  • Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. In a microwave or saucepan, melt the remaining candies; drizzle over cookies. 

Candy Cane Snowballs Recipe
Candy Cane Snowballs

Additional ingredients:
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces white candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
  • Stir in pecans. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until easy to handle.
  • Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  • In a microwave, melt candy coating at 70% power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
  • Dip the top of each cookie into the candy coating; allow excess to drip off. Dip into peppermint candy. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set.

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe
Thumbprint Cookies

Additional ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 7-1/2 teaspoons assorted jams 
  • Roll into 1-in. balls. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg white. Dip each ball halfway into egg white, then into pecans.
  • Place nut side up 2 in. apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each.
  • Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. (Sometimes, you need to make the indentation again while the cookie is still warm.) Remove to wire racks. Fill each cookie with 1/4 teaspoon jam; cool.

Best Coconut Pecan Cookies Recipe

Best Coconut Pecan Cookies Recipe

Additional Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flaked coconut, divided
  • Pecan halves
  • Stir in 1 cup coconut. Shape into 2-in.-diameter logs. Roll in remaining coconut. Wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Unwrap dough; cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place 3 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Place a pecan half in the center of each. Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. (These are cooked at a lower temperature to help the coconut have time to brown. Every oven is different, I start checking mine after 15 min.)

Candy Cane Cookies Recipe

Candy Cane Cookies

Additional Ingredients:
  • Red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Divide dough in half; add 6-7 drops of food coloring to one half. Shape tablespoonfuls of each color of dough into 4-in. ropes. Place ropes side by side; lightly press ends together and twist. Place on ungreased baking sheets; curve to form canes.
  • Bake at 375° for 9-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine crushed candy canes and sugar; immediately sprinkle over cookies. (We like ours heavy on the peppermint so we do less sugar and more crushed candy cane. Store any leftover sprinkles in a ziplock bag until next year.) Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

The options for varieties of frosted sugar cookies are endless and limited only by your imagination and your cookie cutter collection. I share the link above because I appreciate the tutorial she shares for the different frosting effects.

Christmas cookies

Reindeer Cookies - I only ever found this image. There was not a recipe. Just make my recipe for All Purpose Christmas Cookie Dough and roll it into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a few hours until it is easy to slice. Slice very thin and bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Frost with icing gel and red hots when cooled.

Melted snowman...So tragic but so cute at the same time

Melted Snowman Cookies - Again, I only ever found this image. There was not a recipe. Follow the baking directions for the Reindeer Cookies above and frost with a thin powdered sugar glaze, marshmallows, icing gel and red hots when cooled.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies I haven't actually tried cooking my dough all in one piece as this recipe suggests. It would probably work just fine. I have just used their picture and decorating instructions to fancy up my sliced cookies once they have been baked and cooled as in the Reindeer Cookies above.

Peppermint Buttercream Cookies 

To use my dough recipe, just add melted chocolate to a portion of your dough as it directs in the checkerboard cookies that are very first in this post. Roll into a log and slice and bake. Frost as directed by following the link above.

1 comment:

  1. REALLY neat cookie ideas!!! Those melted snowmen are TOOOOOOOOOO cute!! :)