Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Cookie Planning

Yesterday, I pulled all of my various cookie cookbooks, saved holiday special edition magazines, and recipe cards out and spent some time going over all the possibilities for this year's batch of Christmas cookie goodness.

I have a couple of cookbooks that are "go to" books this time of year:

-- This one's a classic, but you can't beat the snickerdoodle recipe in the red and white plaid Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.

-- My other favorite is a compendium of a lot of different types of cookie and bar recipes, including a section of recipes that make a really large batch for party or bake sale baking (or for lots of presents!): Taste of Home: Cookies.

Both are filled with lots of recipes and ideas, and I tend to pull from these two more than any others. That's not to say that I don't have a lot of other cookbooks, magazines and recipe cards...because I do, "out the wazoo" as Mr. ReddHedd would say.

It's just that these two cookbooks form the backbone and everything else just adds texture to the mix.

Once I get all the books and cards out, I sit down and go through the recipes -- that's the fun part! -- with an eye this year toward ease of baking.  I'm tired this year, and I am trying very hard not to overdo it, but at the same time make some cookies that taste yummy.

I get a stack of those little post-it flags and I use them to mark pages of promising recipes.  Then I go back through and make a list of the ones I liked best, with an eye toward a mix of flavors, textures and types.  That's what I did with my afternoon yesterday, and here's my list thus far:

-- Chocolate-walnut fantasy fudge
-- Peanut blossom cookies (the ones with the chocolate kiss in the middle)
-- Butter cookie spritz (because The Peanut loves making these, and half the fun is baking with her)
-- Chocolate rum balls
-- Snickerdoodles
-- Coconut-white chocolate candy clusters
-- Lemon meltaways
-- Oatmeal molasses spice cookies
-- Rugulach
-- Chocolate chip cookes
-- Brownie bites with frosting (either peppermint or coconut-pecan frosting, or some of both)
-- Toffee pecan sandies
-- Jeweled fruit slice cookies
-- Pecan tassies (these are like tiny pecan pies)

I'm going to start on dough today.  Several of these are refrigerator cookies, which means that you make the dough, for it into a log, wrap it  up and pop it in the fridge to chill -- then you slice and bake when you have time.  By making a few types of these, I can get several flavors of cookie dough together, and then The Peanut can help me bake really easily.

Especially if I also add some sugar cookies to the mix that she can dip in colored sprinkles.

From there, it's a race to see what else I can get baked.  I almost never make it through my whole list, because I start getting really tired about mid-week.  By making the refrigerator dough up front, I can catch a bit of a breather by just doing some slice and bake for a while.  With lupus, I've learned that planning breaks in makes all the difference for me, and I still get to bake with The Peanut which is the best part of all of this.

As I bake this week, I'm going to try and do some pictures of finished cookies and share some recipes for all of you as I get time.  If you are baking, too, please share what you are doing.  Would love to know what your family does this time of year.

(Lovely  photo via stevendepolo.)


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