Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Baking means Cookies Galore.

With the holiday season in full swing, it's that time of year for cookie baking. This year I made 16 dozen cookies (that's 4 dozen each of 4 types of cookies): pumpkin chocolate chip, chocolate chip with walnuts, sugar lemon with ginger icing and peanut butter and blackberry preserves. I know I didn't break any records by making them all within a 3 hour period of time, but it's an accomplishment in my book. Divided up on holiday themed paper plates and wrapped in bright red plastic wrap, I made the rounds of the neighbors. On Monday, the City office, Post Office and two local banks will be receiving the annual goodies from hubby and myself. The folks there have treated us well since we moved to Monticello, so it's only fitting they get this treat for the holidays.

For the holiday season, cookies are a traditional treat and the sugar cookie is one such sweet dish. Usually rolled out thin, so cookie cutters can shape the dough into reindeers, trees, bells and other assorted shapes. They are iced and sprinkled, or designs are penned on with tubes of decorative, colored icing. I make the typically round cookie, but I usually add chopped up pieces of Andes mint candies; this year I tried something different. To my dough making process, I added a tablespoon of pure lemon extract. Making a simple icing from 1 cup confectioner's sugar and 3 tablespoons warm milk; I sprinkled powdered ground ginger over the cookies before the icing set. The smell of the lemon is intoxicating and the taste is very smooth on the tongue; the icing is sweet with the ginger spice just tickling the back of the throat. Simple and nice.

My personal favorite is pumpkin chocolate chip; whether it's pie, muffins, pancakes, bread or cookies, I enjoy the taste of pumpkin and the spices that go best with it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (store bought, or homemade – see note)
2 cups milk chocolate chips
*optional parchment paper or non-stick baking spray depending on type of cookie sheets used


Preheat oven to 350F. If using non-stick cookie sheets (AirBake brand is best in my opinion), no preparation is needed. If using a dark non-stick cookie sheet, lower the oven temperature to 325F. Otherwise, use a non-stick baking spray (flour in the spray) or parchment paper on the cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, on medium speed, beat the butter till smooth; slowly add in the sugars till fluffy (also known as “creaming” the butter with the sugar). Add in the eggs one at a time till well incorporated; add in the vanilla and pumpkin.

In a second large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and spice mix. On a slower speed, gently add in the dry ingredients, to the wet ingredients, a cup at at time. Make sure the dry mixture is incorporated well before adding the next cup. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop out the dough with a tablespoon onto the cookie sheets; bake 15-20 minutes, or until cookies are browned. Let rest on the sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks for final cooling.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Note: Pumpkin pie spice can be purchased premade in the store, or made at home.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

¼ cup ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp each ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves
Stir together well and store in an airtight container.

Mary Cokenour