2009-12-03 / Features

Quick And Easy Cookies For Holiday Festivities

Close your eyes and anticipate the sights, the sounds and the aromas of the winter holiday season. How far did you get before you started thinking about holiday desserts?

There’s good reason we center much of our celebrating around food – especially those tantalizing baked desserts. Holiday baking warms our hearts along with our kitchens and encourages the spirit of sharing and celebration. It’s a perfect opportunity to indulge in the festive extravagance that marks the season.

But that extravagance doesn’t have to mean a lot of prep time. You can still wow your guests with holiday desserts that don’t require a lot of fuss to make. Just use high quality ingredients to provide full, rich flavor – whether you’re baking a quick recipe from scratch or taking advantage of a box mix.

Kendall McFarland, food research and development manager at Simply Organic, suggests three cookie recipes – oven ready in just 10 minutes – that are sure to add enjoyment to holiday festivities.

Pecans are a popular nut at the holidays, found in pies, cakes, cookies, even main and side-dish recipes. Here’s one very delicious way to enjoy pecans. These cookies are rolled in confectioner’s sugar, and melt in your mouth.
Pecan Snowballs
1 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup pecan pieces, chopped
very fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and egg yolks. Add 1/2 cup of the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and sifted flour. Stir in pecan pieces.

Roll batter into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until bottoms are lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes.

Cool on cooling rack, then roll in remaining confectioner's sugar to coat.

There’s always room for these light cookies – even following a big holiday meal. Kids like to help with this one. Let the real little ones put the almonds on.
Almond Cookies
50 almonds, blanched

1 cup butter
3/4 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind 12 of the almonds to a fine powder. Cream honey and butter together. Add egg, ground almonds, and extracts.

In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add gradually to wet ingredients. Knead into a dough. (Add a drop of water or flour one at a time if necessary to make a kneadable consistency.)

Pinch off small balls of dough and place on greased cookie sheet. Press flat into 1/2 inch thickness. Make an indention in top of each cookie and place a whole almond in each. Bake for 15 minutes.

When time’s really at a premium, your best bet might be to call on a baking mix. There are some high quality baking mixes nowadays, including natural, whole grain, Fair Trade Certified, organic and gluten-free ones. Look for recipes that do something a little different with the mix to come up with a dessert that’s “holiday special.” Here’s one from Simply Organic that uses their cocoa cayenne cupcake mix and chocolate-covered espresso beans to create a uniquely delicious cookie. It’s one of dozens of quick, easy dessert recipes on the Simply Organic Web site (www.simplyorganicfoods.com) that you can get ready for the oven in just 5 or 10 minutes.
Wake Up! Breakfast Cookies
1 box Simply Organic cocoa
cayenne cupcake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 cup chocolate covered-espresso
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a large baking sheet.

With an electric mixer combine cocoa cayenne cupcake mix with softened butter and eggs. Add water. Mix in the chocolatecovered espresso beans by hand.

Use an ice cream scoop to get large uniform-sized cookies and flatten. Bake 12 to 14 minutes.

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