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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Artist's Way (Of Eating) - Scott Parkinson's Cookie Trio

Surely these cookies may be enjoyed year 'round! Maybe not the Christmas trees. Scott writes:

"While I am normally suspicious of traditions and rituals, around the holidays I find myself shamelessly giving over to them, taking comfort in the continuity and meaning they provide. One of our family traditions is the Christmas cookie. Out of the many kinds my mother has made over the years (and in recent years my sister has often taken up the baking mantle when we get together), three kinds stand out as yearly favorites: the Gingersnaps, the Peanut Blossoms, and the Christmas tree-shaped “Spritz butter cookies”. The family planned to get together at my parents’ house in North Carolina for the holiday, but my sister and I would not be arriving until late on Christmas Eve. On the morning of December 23rd I called up my Dad and asked if Mom had made them. He said that she had not made any this year, which led to a split-second decision to make the cookies myself. With my sister’s supervision and the last-minute assistance from the Safeway down the street, I was able to make a batch of each of our favorite cookies before we headed out of town the following afternoon (the only substitution was a Chinese Five Spice replacing the ginger in the Gingersnaps, which were quickly dubbed “Ginger-less Snaps”). The making of the cookies helped me get more into the spirit this year and the cookies were enjoyed by all! Here are the recipes, complete with instructions from Mom (we substituted butter this year wherever shortening appears)."

¾ cup shortening 1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses (dark or light will do)
1 egg
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger

Cream shortening and sugar, add molasses and egg and beat well. Blend dry ingredients and add to egg mixture slowly while blending well. Roll into balls and then roll in sugar (teaspoon size balls). Make sure you have enough flour in mix for good form – dough will pull away from the bowl into one large ball. Place cookie ball on greased cookie sheet and bake. (original recipe calls for 8- 10 minutes @ 375 – I made a note of 9-10 minutes @ 350. I like to remove them while soft).
Watch carefully and remove from oven while light colored. Cool till just slightly warm – then I place them in Tupperware with sheet of wax paper in-between layers. Store while still slightly warm.

Peanut Blossoms
½ cup sugar
½ cup shortening
½ cup packed brown sugar
Blend in:
½ cup peanut butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Work in:
1 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Chill dough, roll into balls and bake in 350 oven for about 9 mins. Remove from oven while light tan color. Push a candy kiss in center while still warm. Cool completely before storing.

Spritz Butter Cookies
1 cup of butter or margarine (I always used butter)
2/3 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp PURE almond extract (I put a little bit extra)
1/8 tsp salt
2 ½ cups flour
Cream butter and sugar then add extract and egg. Mix thoroughly. Blend sifted dry ingredients together. Add to cream mixture slowly (you will probably have to blend the last amount by hand unless you have a really powerful mixer). Pack dough into cookie press and make shapes on ungreased sheet. I lightly grease the sheets. Bake @ 400 for 8-10 minutes. You can sprinkle color sprinkles on before you bake them. Or you can melt 1 bag of red or green candy melts (found in the baking section of a grocery or party store) – I set a glass pyrex bowl of about ½ the bag of candies on a pot of boiled water (remove the hot water from stove then place the bowl into the hot water) over heating is not good. Stir the candies until they melt. I dip ½ side of the cooled trees into the candy mix and then put them on cooling racks until the candy sets up.

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