I’m a suck up. I fully admit that I am not above kissing a little ass or flinging some undue compliments to get what I want. I also happen to be a relatively decent baker, so I put that skill to good use during the holiday season and send my bosses at PGP, Dave and Will, an assortment of cookies to yes, suck up to them in an effort to get my pieces published on this tremendously well-run website. But as I buckled down to bake, I thought that perhaps I should share with all of you my holiday favorites, in case there is anyone in your life whose favor you need to curry with a few baked goods.
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
½ c. butter (no substitutions)
1 tbsp. red and green nonpareils or sprinkles or 1/2 cup mini baking bits
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In food processor with knife blade attached, pulse flour and sugar until combined. Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together. Place dough in medium bowl. With hand, gently knead in nonpareils or baking bits until evenly blended and dough forms a ball.
On lightly floured waxed paper, pat dough into 8″ by 5″ rectangle; freeze 15 minutes. Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares. Place squares, 1/2 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.
Bake cookies 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store cookies in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week, or in freezer up to 3 months.
My Take: The first of two new cookies in my holiday rotation, and I think these may be my new fav. I love shortbread, and this was much easier than trying to make full sized cookies. Plus, because they were bite sized, I didn’t feel bad when I ate like 15 of them.
8 ounces mini pretzels
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups milk chocolate chips
sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line an 11×17-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Spread pretzels onto the prepared baking sheet.
Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour mixture over pretzels.
Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over pretzel mixture. Bake for 1 minute more. Stir mixture to evenly spread chocolate over pretzels. Lightly sprinkle salt over pretzels.
Cool until set, 2 to 3 hours. Break into pieces.
My Take: This is a little bit of a cheat because it’s more of a candy than a cookie, but it’s relatively simple to make and the people in my office eat this stuff up like they just smoked joints in the bathroom and have the munchies, so I think they agree that it’s pretty good.
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
30-40 miniature Reese’s butter cups, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.
My Take: These cookies are my go-to for all occasions. People love them (seriously, they are the way to Will deFries’ heart), they take up a lot of room in a care-package, and because you use a mini-muffin tin, you can bake more of them at once. Win, win, win.
1 (15.25 oz) box Red Velvet Cake mix
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
30 Hershey’s Hugs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs and oil until fully combined and no bumps.
Roll into one-inch balls, roll in sugar, and place on cookie sheet.
Bake for 7-9 minutes or until done.
Take out of oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before sticking in an unwrapped Hershey’s Hug.
My Take: I hate white chocolate, so instead of Hugs, I go with Dark Chocolate kisses instead. Personal preference, it works either way.
10 tablespoons butter, plus a little more to butter pan
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in:
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cups chocolate chips
¾ cups chopped, toasted walnuts
1 – 7 oz jar marshmallow crème
Preheat oven to 350°
Grease/butter/spray a 9×9 inch pan.
Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer or with hand mixer.
Add egg and vanilla/espresso and mix, stopping to scrape sides once or twice, until fully incorporated.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. You don’t HAVE to sift, but it will mix the dry ingredients together easier without having to overdo it so the cookies are tough.
Stir in chips and nuts.
Spread about half the cookie dough into the prepared pan. Spread the marshmallow creme over the dough. Spread remaining cookie dough on top. It’s okay if the marshmallow shows through in some places, it’s a little hard to spread cookie dough on top of marshmallow creme.
Put in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool on rack for about 30 minutes and then remove in one piece to rack to cool. Or you can cut it right in the pan if it’s not nonstick. Cutting in a nonstick pan will scratch the finish which will make it rust/become-non-nonstick/put-teflon-flakes-in-your-food.
My Take: This was my first time making these, and it was kind of a clusterfuck. First, I didn’t have a 9×9 pan, so I used a 10×6 pan. This was actually a blessing in disguise as that they really puff up; I think next time I’d use a 13×9 pan to thin them out. And these suckers are messy, but they taste good.
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
5 tsp. warm water
3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
Heat oven to 350°F.
In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy.
Add egg and beat until blended. Stir in flour and salt, then the crushed candy.
Add red food coloring to dough if desired.
Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into ball.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake cookies 8 to 10 minutes until firm.
Cool on sheet for 1 minute.
Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Mix water and confectioners’ sugar together to form icing.
Dip top of each cooled cookie in icing (sprinkle with additional crushed candy, if desired) and allow to dry.
My Take: When I make these, I actually skip the icing. I’m not a big fan of confectioners’ sugar and I think these are sweet enough without it. But to each his own..
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