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Time to Bake: Mid Rivers Newsmagazine’s favorite cookies

By: Kate Uptergrove


It’s not Christmas without cookies. Just ask Santa.

Here are a few of our favorites. Some are new, like Melissa’s recipe for gluten-free chocolate cookies. Others are undeniably old fashioned, such as Kate’s Traditional German Zimsterne. Others are simply for fun. All are delicious, so from our recipe files to yours, happy holidays!

Pumpkin Cookies

“We only make these once per year, and I don’t know why,” says administrative assistant Melissa Balcer. “They’re a really good, soft cookie and easy to make but they’re best when chilled.”

Cookie ingredients:

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Glaze ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 375º F.

• Using an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and sugar. Blend in the pumpkin and egg and mix well.

• Lightly mix the dry ingredients together and add to the wet mixture. Stir to combine.

• Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a greased cookie sheet.

• Bake for 10-12 minutes.

• While cookies are cooling, create a glaze by mixing together melted butter, milk, brown sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla.

• Glaze cooled cookies. Make sure the glaze has dried thoroughly before packing cookies in an airtight container.

Gluten-Free Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are rich, cake-like, soft cookies. If you don’t like the rich taste of these cookies, you can leave out the pudding, but it will change the consistency, making them less cake-like.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups Meister’s all-purpose gluten-free flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup butter

1 package instant vanilla pudding

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 375º F.

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.

• Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

• Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

• Drop rounded tablespoons of mixture onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

• Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter or coconut oil

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sifted coconut flour

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 350º F.

• In a saucepan at low heat, melt butter and stir in cocoa powder. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla; stir in cooled cocoa mixture.

• Whisk coconut flour into batter until there are no lumps. Let batter rest for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken slightly.

• Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

• Bake for 14 minutes.

Traditional German Zimsterne

Zimsterne

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

3 1/4 cups non-blanched almond meal*

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

*Hazelnuts or pecans, toasted and ground, can replace the almond meal depending on your taste preference. Place nuts on a cookie sheet that has been lightly coated with cooking spray and toast in a preheated 350º F oven for 5 minutes, watching them carefully to prevent scorching. Grind them in a food processor or clean coffee grinder.

Directions:

• Preheat the oven to 300º F [do not use the convection setting]. Place the rack on the bottom rung of the oven.

• Beat the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir in the powdered sugar until combined. Reserve 2 generous, heaping tablespoons of the egg white mixture for the glaze.

• Add the nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix until the dough comes together in a fairly stiff but pliable mass.

• Roll the dough, about 1/4-inch think, onto a non-stick surface sprinkled with powdered sugar.

• Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out the cookies [stars are traditional] and transfer them to a parchment paper-lined or non-stick cookie sheet.

• Brush the reserved egg white mixture in a thin layer onto the cookies. Remember, you need to glaze all the cookies, so don’t be too generous.

• Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

• Let the cookies cool completely before storing in a dry, airtight container. Cookies can be stored for up to two weeks, but they’ll be eaten before then. Guaranteed.

Gumdrop Cookies

Gumdrop Cookies

“Mom only made these at Christmas,” says editor Kate Uptergrove. “I think it was because she did not enjoy cutting up the gumdrops, a chore that as I grew older became mine. But I loved these cookies.”

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup fruity gumdrops, diced

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups quick oats, dry

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 350º F.

• Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl, setting aside 1/4 cup of the flour mixture for coating the gumdrops.

• Dice gumdrops and toss with reserve flour mixture.

• Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Add vanilla and the beaten eggs. Mix until combined.

• Carefully add the flour mixture to the wet mixture.

• By hand, mix in quick oats and gumdrops until well blended.

• Using a melon baller [or cookie scoop] measure out 1-inch balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

• Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a glass that has been greased and dipped in granulated sugar.

• Bake for 10 minutes.

Gingerbread Cookies

Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup molasses

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves

1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Directions:

• In a saucepan set over low heat, or in the microwave, melt butter, then stir in the brown sugar, molasses, salt and spices.

• Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, and beat in the egg.

• Whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, and then stir those dry ingredients into the molasses mixture.

• Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a thick rectangle. Wrap well, and refrigerate for one hour or longer. The dough may be sticky and hard to roll if not thoroughly chilled, so make sure it’s cold before continuing.

• Preheat your oven to 350° F. Get out several baking sheets; there’s no need to grease them, though lining with parchment saves effort on cleanup.

• Once the dough has chilled, take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface. Roll the dough 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick; the thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be. Flour both the top and bottom of the dough if it starts to stick. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap over it as you roll, pulling the plastic to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

• Cut out shapes with a floured cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible to minimize waste.

• Transfer the cookies to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake the cookies just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, about 8 to 12 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

• Decorate the cookies with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

Ingredients:

3 ounces pasteurized egg whites [about 3 large eggs]

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon of table salt

Or if you prefer:

3 tablespoons meringue powder

8 tablespoons room temperature water

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon of table salt

Directions:

• In a large bowl using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes.

• Tint icing using gel food colors, preferred. If tinting with liquid food color thins the icing, add a bit more confectioners’ sugar.

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