Every year we take one day to make just Christmas cookies. It’s crazy, it makes a huge mess, and sometime we end up with cookies that aren’t quite right, but it’s always fun and we enjoy eating the end results even if they aren’t perfect. And with eight of us in our family, they don’t last long! (We do share the cookies with neighbors, friends, and family if we can.) The imperfect cookies happened to us this year since every cookie we baked was a new recipe for us.
This year, we made Chocolate No Bakes, French-Style Lemon Bars, Blueberry Jammers, Jam Thumbprints, Christmas Spice Cookies, and Peppermint Bark (which is candy and not a cookie but I mention it because I actually messed up the peppermint bark). I will attempt to link a recipe to every cookie if possible, but sometimes they just aren’t up on the Internet. I will mention the cookbook that they came from though.
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Chocolate No Bake Cookies
These cookies are near to Josh’s heart. His favorite no bake recipe is from his Grandma. Grandmas always have the best recipes, don’t they?
I took care of making the cookie mixture on the stovetop, but my son Matthias scooped them out for me onto parchment paper. He just used two silverware tablespoons to do that.
We would have used all peanut butter, but we ran out of creamy peanut butter. I didn’t think crunchy peanut butter would work in these, so we substituted Nutella for the remaining 1/4 cup we needed. I think these turned out ok because Matthias kept hanging around in the kitchen while they were cooling and picking bits of chocolate cookie off the parchment paper. Sometimes, he really reminds me a lot of Josh!
I think we could have made a double batch of these cookies and no one would have complained.
Chocolate No Bake Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups white sugar
- 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup Nutella or Hazelnut Spread
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 – 3½ cups old-fashioned oats
Over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar with the milk and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Once melted, remove from heat and mix in the peanut butter, Nutella, vanilla, and oats. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the oats to soften before scooping out by spoonfuls onto parchment paper to harden.
Printed from thegeekhomestead.com
French-style Lemon Bars
If you’ve been visiting The Geek Homestead for a while, you know that I love all of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks. When I saw her recipe for lemon bars in Baking Chez Moi, I knew I had to try them. Even if they aren’t as easy as my usual recipe from an old Southern Living Christmas cookie cookbook from 2003.
After visiting my parents a few weeks ago in San Diego, I came home with a whole grocery bag of Meyer lemons from their tree. I set aside about 20 of the lemons to make some jars of lemon cream and lemon curd, but I knew that a few of the lemons would need to be used for lemon bars. Corran always requests lemon bars whenever he sees lemons on the counter. They are his favorite dessert… aside from Oreos.
The one thing I could have done differently with this recipe: mixed the crust portion of the lemon bar properly. It was still too streusel-like when I started patting it into the pan and the butter melted too quickly and made the crust hard. The kids didn’t really care too much though.
I did think cooking the lemon curd filling beforehand was kind of odd since it is cooked again in the oven. I think next time I would use my usual recipe filling with this crust and streusel recipe unless I happened to have a jar of lemon curd in the fridge.
The closest recipe online to what I made is Raspberry and Meyer Lemon Squares. Just leave out the raspberries.
First off, these did not turn out the way they were supposed to, which makes me sad. But… they do still taste good, so I guess it’s not all bad.
I made the mistake of rolling out the base dough too thin, thinner than 1/4 inch, the preferred thickness. Which meant the cookie was crisper than it was supposed to be.
Lesson learned! Use a ruler properly!
Side note: Josh made the blueberry jam for these from scratch. It’s so nice to have a husband who not only can cook, but who can make jam and can it too!
The closest recipe online for these is Jam Butter Cookies at Tutti Dolci. I did not scoop them into the muffin tin though, but rolled out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, put the dough in the freezer for an hour, and then the kids and Josh cut out two-inch circles with a biscuit cutter to put in the muffin tins. This would have worked great except for the fact that the dough was rolled out too thin. I should have had them stack the circles if it was thinner than 1/4 inch.
I don’t know why, but jam thumbprint cookies always give me a hard time. I LOVED the base dough for these. I think it’s comparable to the Danish butter cookies in the blue tins, the name of which escapes me right now.
My problem with these seemed to be getting enough jam into the indentation. The jam just seemed to melt right into the cookie dough instead of staying pooled after baking. Maybe it was the type of cookie dough.
Honestly, I think the base dough doesn’t need anything to be good. I would be perfectly happy eating it baked after being rolled in some sanding sugar.
Here is the base dough recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough
And here is a general Jam Thumbprint Recipe at Food Network.
We used mint jelly, passionfruit jam, and pomegranate jelly for our jam centers in these cookies.
Christmas Spice Cookies
I know these look very boring. This is the Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough mixed with some ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. I actually couldn’t taste much of a difference between the vanilla dough and the vanilla dough with added spices. Maybe it doesn’t matter much.
These might be my favorite cookies we made. And they are so plain. No frosting, no decoration, no chocolate, no jam. Just a plain butter cookie that tastes amazing.
Yes, I rolled out the dough too thin again. But that’s okay. Because that means there are more cookies than there are supposed to be!
These cookies are so bad for me. I really should have given more of these away…
I think we might have to do these again as “New Year’s Day” cookies just so that the kids can do proper cookie cutouts. Since the dough was too thin, they weren’t able to do any fun shapes like they are used to: like a Dalek, a Minecraft sword, Yoda, a candy cane, and Darth Vader.
I have been having a lot of issues with chocolate lately. My son Corran made a chocolate chip orange mandelbrot that was really good, then when we tried to melt chocolate to dip the ends in, the chocolate seized. We still managed to get the mandelbrot dipped, but the chocolate was too thick. Since the mandelbrot was just for us, it turned out ok and we still ate it and enjoyed it.
Well, that happened to me again with the white chocolate part of this peppermint bark. The white chocolate seized while I was melting it, and then it didn’t want to bond with the dark chocolate. So, it ended up kind of a mess. At least, the middle part of the bark looks pretty!
I have to second the author of this recipe for peppermint bark. Guittard makes my favorite chocolate and white chocolate chips. I was using Nestle for this peppermint bark and the white chocolate chips have palm oil in them. Palm oil and dark chocolate don’t mix well and that’s why the white chocolate and dark chocolate in my bark separated. But Nestle was on sale, and I didn’t even see Guittard chips at my local grocery store.
It’s possible that Ghirardelli would be a good substitute. I do use Ghirardelli but have never thought to check if their white chocolate chips have palm oil in them or not.
So that is all of our Christmas Cookie smorgasbord (smorgasbord is used courtesy of Corran) in one post, including all the mistakes we made!
Merry Christmas Eve!