Christmas Cookies

December 11th, 2010

I have been baking cookies this week.  It is not one of my favorite pursuits, but Christmas seems to dictate the practice and I have done it every year for as long as I can remember.  When my Son was young, the baking was always Christmas cutout cookies and decorative icing.  Now, when I bake cookies it is usually on a whim.  The only constants are Scandanavian Tea Cookies ( shortbread crust cookie topped with chocolate and pecans) and the best chocolate chip cookie recipe that I know from Cooks Illustrated.

But these two cookie recipes are new to me and I enjoyed trying them.  The confectioners’s sugar covered snowball cookies are different than the standard pecan flavored wedding cookies.  These are flavored with lemon and coconut.  The recipe was in a Southern Living book that my DIL gave me for Christmas last year.  The Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies were in an old issure of Gourmet magazine.  I like them because they can be prepared ahead of time and the dough logs kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to slice and bake.  I did have trouble with them though.  The dough was very crumbly and they were not easy to slice.  Add a little water to your mixture when you are forming your logs and this should help them stick together.

LEMON-COCONUT SNOWBALLS

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and extracts, beating well.  Add flour, lemon rind, and salt, beating until combined.  Stir in coconut.  Cover and chill dough 30 minutes.

Shape dough into generous 1″ balls; place 1″ apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes or until goldern on bottom, but pale on top.  Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool 5 minutes.

Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl, and roll warm cookies in powdered sugar, coating well.  Cool cookies completely on wire racks.  Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar again, coating well.  Yield: 2 dozen.

PISTACHIO CRANBERRY ICEBOX COOKIES

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (not dyed)
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries.  Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.  Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends).  Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well.  Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.)  Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.  Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.  Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.
 
Printable recipe Lemon-Coconut Snowballs

Printable recipe Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies
  

7 responses to “Christmas Cookies”

  1. Donnie says:

    They look really good but Don asked me not to make any sweets this year or buy any except Christmas Day…what….so I’ll have to save them for later.

  2. Both of these cookies should take an honoured roll on your cookie plate this holiday season!!

  3. racheld says:

    Penny, those are scrumptious-looking, especially the plump snowballs!!

    I’d been thinking about trying some of those, for the best ones I ever ate were “Key Lime” ones, with a little grated peel in the sugar, as well. And Caro did a couple of remarkably-good things with Lemon Oil and Orange Oil this year—just delicious—perhaps I’ll try that for these, just a drop.

    I just LOVE when you’re cookin’!

  4. I’m not a cookie baker either. However yours look very professional. The pistachios and cranberries sound like a fabulous combination.
    Sam

  5. They sounds good…I still do the cut out cookies…Kent loves them. No frosting though, just sugar sprinkled on top. This year my son did it for me, because of my bum shoulder.
    xo
    Penny

  6. Momgateway says:

    Hubby brought home a huge bag of pistachios and I was wondering what I would do with them. Now I can’t get Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies out of my mind!

  7. Rita says:

    Your cookies looks really nice. And me too; making cookies is not my favourite thing to do, although I enjoy eating home made cookies; they are the best.

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