Christmas Roll Sugar Cookies

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Yesterday was my five year high school reunion, which is weird for me to think about. I got to see people that I actually haven’t seen since graduation, as well as others that I’ve kept in better touch with, and it was awesome to be able to hear about what everyone was up to. A lot has changed since high school (I definitely wasn’t as into baking back then), but in a lot of ways it was nice that some things stayed the same.

Also, I found out that some people have been reading my blog (Hi Michelle and Liz!). So in case you are looking for a last minute Christmas cookie that’s easy and cool looking, this week I’m posting my Christmas Roll Sugar Cookies. It’s the same base as my very first post, but instead of rolling and cutting shapes, you make a roll for slice and bake style cookies.

So first, combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

 

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Then, in a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth using a hand mixer.

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Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.

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Add the flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Separate the dough into 3 equal parts.

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Add red food coloring to one portion and green to a second. I used the Wilson gel food coloring so it wouldn’t mess with the consistency of the dough, but make sure you use a lot if you don’t want preppy pink and green cookies.

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Chill the dough, covered, in the refrigerator for about an hour to make it easier to roll. Then, roll each portion out into a rectangle of about the same size on pieces of wax paper.

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Stack the dough rectangles, one on top of the other, and trim the edges to make sure they line up. Obviously, color order is up to you.

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Starting on the long side, roll the dough into a log. Wrap the log in the wax paper and freeze for a couple of hours.

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Once the dough is frozen, it will be way easier to slice. Slice into cookies, rotating the log a quarter turn after each cut to prevent one side from flattening.

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Roll the dough in colored sprinkles and place two inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden.

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Remove from cookie sheet and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. They kept well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week without getting stale, so they make a good addition to cookie tins!

Enjoy!

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Christmas Roll Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red and green food coloring
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream together the shortening and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated.
  5. Separate dough into 3 separate parts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
  6. Roll each portion into a rectangle on a separate sheet of wax paper. Stack the rectangles and trim edges to make even.
  7. Starting on a long edge, roll the dough into a log. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for at least 2 hours.
  8. Unwrap and slice dough into cookies, rotating the log a quarter turn between slices to prevent flattening.
  9. Roll cookies in sprinkles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

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As I mentioned last week, this weekend was cookie baking weekend. This year, I made cookie tins for 16 different people, so I made 5 full batches of treats in total. That is not an insignificant amount of cookies. In fact, I was in the kitchen so long that I went through my entire Christmas playlist. That’s a good 5 hours of Christmas music. As a side note, Straight No Chaser’s new album is excellent. I’m partial to “Text Me Merry Christmas” and “Nutcracker“. You should watch both of those videos before you keep reading.

Fortunately, last weekend I got a head start with salted caramel chocolate shortbread bars, so yesterday I was really only making 4 types of cookies, including Christmas roll sugar cookies, gingerbread men, peppermint white chocolate cookies, and, today’s feature, peanut butter reindeer cookies.

For this recipe, I took the peanut butter base that I usually use for peanut butter blossoms (those cookies with the hershey kiss on top), and just pressed in some different decorations to copy the pictures that are all over Pinterest. When you make peanut butter blossoms, you want the cookies to crack a bit, but for these reindeer, that’s not actually a good thing. Lucky for you, I tested a couple different methods to figure out what worked best, so you don’t have to.

Basically, the best strategy is to slightly underbake the cookies so they’re still soft, and to move quickly when putting on the decorations. You still might end up with a couple one-eyed reindeer when an m&m decides not to stick, but it’s better than a reindeer that crumbles to pieces when you try to attach an antler.

First, cream together the shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl.

 

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Then, add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.

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Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat well.

 

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In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.

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Add it to the peanut butter mixture gradually and beat well until the dough comes together.

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Roll the dough in 1 inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  I found the best cookies were when I rolled them more into a flattened but fat disk, since that gave a little more surface area to press things later on.

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Bake the cookies at 375°F for about 6-8 minutes. You want them to still look a little soft – as soon as they look dry, you’re risking crumbly reindeer.

Remove from the oven and immediately press in the pretzel antlers and m&m faces. I first put antlers on all of them before going back to do faces since they were what I was more concerned about sticking.

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For the antlers, I used mini flips, which I could only find in little pouches on the way out of the grocery store. The eyes are brown mini m&ms, and the nose is a regular red m&m. Here’s a close up:

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Let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. And I do mean completely here. The candies and such are attaching to the cookie by melting and re-hardening, so it’s really important that you let them go through that whole process before you move them anywhere else.

If you get through all of those nitpicky steps, the results are adorable!

Enjoy!

IMG_2033 Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • sugar, for rolling
  • m&m’s and mini chocolate pretzels for decorating

Directions:

  1. Cream together shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed.
  2. Add sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
  3. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat to combine.
  4. Combine flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add gradually to peanut butter mixture, beating until dough comes together.
  5. Roll dough in 1 inch balls, roll the balls in the extra sugar, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 6-8 minutes, until slightly underbaked.
  6. Immediately press pretzels and m&m’s into cookies to make reindeer faces. Allow to cool slightly on baking pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Butter Cookies

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Last Christmas recipe, I promise.  And these also aren’t really a Christmas-exclusive recipe, so I don’t feel bad about it.  Imagine them in shapes other than Christmas trees if it bothers you.

This is also another one of those you-kind-of-need-a-special-tool-to-make-me recipe, which is fine for me because I have that tool.  And I highly recommend you get one because of it’s unbelievable convenience.  That tool is a cookie press, and my mom got it for me for Christmas this year.  It let’s you make all of those super cute shape cookies you probably thought only mass-cookie-producing factories could make.  But alas, you can do it at home!  With this:

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Now, mine came with 12 different discs I could use to make different shapes.  I chose to make trees, wreaths, and snowflakes for Christmas (and teddy bears because my boyfriend insisted).  I also have the option to make hearts, buttercups, shells, sunflowers, daisies, fleur de lis, leaves, and butterflies.  So you can assume this is not the last you see of my cookie press.  For my first go with it, however, I had to go with butter cookies.  Because, really, I appreciate a cookie that doesn’t try to be something its not.  It knows that people like it for its butter, so it owns it.

Also, realistically, if you don’t have a cookie press, don’t worry.  You could roll out this dough and use a cookie cutter, too.  Cookie dough is pretty forgiving with how you want to use it.

First up, cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

 

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If you have a handy assistant around, you can get them to do it while you take awesome action shots.  Thanks Andy!

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Next, add the vanilla and egg and continue to beat it with the hand mixer.  The recipe says to make sure the egg is at room temperature – this is to ensure that the dough is easy to handle when you put it in the press.

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Add the flour little by little, beating until its well combined.

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Now comes the fun part.  Since I had never used a cookie press before, I did make a couple mistakes the first time through, but I eventually found my groove.  In case you’re wondering, this is what a disc looks like to make a wreath:

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I have no idea who figured out that would work, but I am very impressed with them.  On the first try, I filled the press all the way up with cookie dough.

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This is not something you want to do.  The press will refuse to press cookies until you remove some of the dough.  In later attempts I realized it’s probably better to go with about half-full (or half-empty if you’re a pessimist) to get the smoothest working pump.  Then you just put the handle on, put the press right on the cookie sheet, push down on the handle, and pull away.  In less than a minute, you’ve got a cookie sheet full of wreaths!

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From a purely time-saving point of view, these are probably the most impressive looking cookies you can make in under an hour.  Sprinkle them with some sanding sugar, cook them for 8 to 10 minutes at 400°F, and you’re good to go.

Also, make sure to rotate the pan about halfway through the baking time.  This will make sure all the cookies get equal heat, so you don’t have 12 burnt cookies and 12 doughy cookies.  It helps, I swear.

Let them cool for a minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Fill up the press and repeat!

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The other awesome part about butter cookies (other than their simplicity – only 5 ingredients!) is that they go with anything.  Everyone likes them, they’re small (which I generally believe means they don’t have calories), and when you aren’t in the mood to make anything super fancy, the cookie press makes them look fancy enough on their own.

Enjoy!

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Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and egg, continuing to beat until smooth.
  3. Add flour little by little, beating until well combined.
  4. Insert desired disc in cookie press, fill tube half full of dough, and press dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 400°F, rotating the baking sheet after 5 minutes.  Remove when cookies are golden brown around edges.
  6. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.