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Christmas Linzer Cookies

Cookies are a classic dessert for a reason.  They are quick and easy to make and often use ingredients that you have on hand.  Use these baking tips and cookie recipes to whip up a batch of delicious cookies to share with Santa, and all of your little elves! 

Preparation

- Read over the recipe carefully before you start making cookies.  Be sure that you have all of the ingredients needed.

- If your recipe calls for ingredients to be at room temperature, but you don’t want to wait, you can:

-Shred butter with a cheese grater into a bowl. 

-Gently warm milk in the microwave, but do not let it come to a boil.

-Place eggs in a bowl filled with barely warm water.  This should bring your eggs to room temperature in about an hour.

-Cut cream cheese into small chunks.

-Bar cookies usually call for the baking pan to be greased and floured.  If you are baking chocolate bar cookies, use cocoa powder instead of flour to preserve their dark color.  When baking gluten-free bars, be sure to use a gluten-free flour to dust the baking dish.  For extra protection against sticking, use parchment paper that has been greased to line your baking dish.

Mixing

-Swap ingredients according to your taste or pantry:

-For a richer flavor, replace half of the white sugar in your recipe with brown sugar.

-For a healthier result, replace up to half of the white flour in your recipe with whole wheat flour, nut flour, crushed cereal crumbs, or cookie crumbs that have been finely ground in the food processor.

-Add-ins are interchangeable.

-Swap some or all of the milk chocolate chips in your recipe for: any kind of baking chip, chopped bar chocolate, chopped candy bars, marshmallows, chocolate candies or peanut butter candies.

-Replace standard raisins with chopped dried apricots, craisins, golden raisins, or jumbo raisins.

-Use homemade nut butter, hazelnut spread, almond butter, pistachio butter, peanut butter, or sunflower butter for up to half of the margarine or butter in your recipe.

-Include a variety of nuts in your cookies.  Swap almonds, pecans, cashews or macadamia nuts for walnuts.  If you have a container of mixed nuts in the pantry, measure out the amount needed, give them a rough chop, and fold them into your cookie recipe.
-Trade part of the nuts in your recipe for broken pretzel pieces.

-Adjust the spices in your recipe to fit your palate.  Add cinnamon to chocolate chip cookies or chocolate brownies.  Instead of cinnamon sugar, roll snickerdoodles in pumpkin pie spice mixed with sugar.

-Sift dry ingredients onto waxed paper and then add them according to the recipe.  

-After mixing your cookie dough, chill it for at least 30 minutes.  This gives the flavors time to mingle and will help the cookies bake consistently.

-If you are using a sugar substitute in your recipe, be sure that it is appropriate for baking.

-For gluten-free no bake cookies, use a gluten-free cereal, such as Cocoa Pebbles, instead of oats.

-When you get to the bottom of the cereal or cookie box and there is not enough left for a serving, save it to be crushed and used in cookies.

Baking

-For even baking, use a scoop or measuring cup to divide dough for drop cookies.

-Slice icebox cookie logs with a serrated knife or floss.  Work quickly to keep the dough at the right temperature.

-Only place raw cookie dough on cool pans.  Have enough pans available so you can swap them between batches, or run warm pans under cool water tp quickly cool them off.

-Rotate cookie sheets halfway through baking cookies for even baking.

-Use insulated cookie sheets to avoid cookies with burnt bottoms.

-Don’t over crowd the cookie sheet.  Make sure to give each cookie the room the recipe calls for.

Cooling

-Cool your cookies according to the recipe instructions to be sure they set properly.

-If you do not have enough wire racks for your cookies to cool on, set up cooling station.  Lay out cloth or paper towels on the counter.   Put a layer of waxed or parchment paper on top.  Once cookies have cooled a few minutes in the pan on wire racks, transfer them to the waxed or parchment paper to let them cool completely. 

Decorating

-Use plastic zip top bags as icing bags.  Snip one of the corners and put on the decorating tip of your choice.

-Bake and freeze cookies a few days before decorating.

-Decorate cookies with your kids.

- If you are using colored icing, put your child in one of your old t-shirts to protect their clothes from food coloring.

- Help small children spread a base of icing and then decorate with candy.

- Use squeeze bottles full of icing to draw on the cookies.

Storage

-Freeze iced or sandwich cookies un-iced and then ice them after thawing. 

-Freeze cookies by the dozen in plastic storage bags or containers. 

Cookie Recipes

Drop

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie
Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
Snickerdoodles

Ball

Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls
Oats, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Balls
Crispy Crunchy Peanut Snowballs
Candy Cane Christmas Cookies
Brigaderios
 
Icebox

Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies
Icebox Cookies
Chocolate Icebox Cookies
Heirloom Walnut Icebox Cookies
Grandma’s Icebox Cookies

Rolled

Butterscotch Rolled Cookies
Rolled Buttery Lemon Cookies
Rolled Molasses Cookies
Mom’s Sugar Cookies
Grandma’s Gingerbread Cookies
 
Sandwich

Almond Apricot and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Santa Sandwich Cookies
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Fudgey German Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
 
Cereal

Rice Krispie Balls
Special K Cereal Cookies
Chocolate Cereal Sandwiches
Snowball Cookies
Almond Nougat Crispies
 
No Bake

Oreo Balls
No Bake Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Cookies
No Bake Cocoa Haystacks
Butterscotch Haystacks
Marshmallow Balls
 
Bar

Better Butterscotch Brownies
Double Chocolate Fudgey Brownies with Walnuts
Oatmeal Raspberry Bar Cookies
Christmas Nut and Fruit Shortbread Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

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