This year in addition to decorating cookies, my friends and I exchanged cookies. Everyone was responsible for bringing half a dozen of their holiday treat for each party attendee and then we went around and described our tasty treats.

I made Oatmeal Coco-nutters because I wanted something quick, easy and didn’t require baking since I was prepping so many other things for the party. I unfortunately over toasted the almonds that I used but the cookies still came out pretty good (a little dry).

Devon made fudge with candied bacon in the middle, Alicia who is not a baker brought some pre-made cookies (it is more about hanging out together than the baking), and my friend from high school and driver’ ed buddy, Rashee made über scrumptious shortbread.

Pecan-Lavender Shortbread
Ingredients:
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
¼ cup of granulated sugar
½ cup of confectioner’s sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup of pecans or walnuts
½ teaspoon dried lavender

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter an 8” square pan.

Beat butter, granulated sugar and confectioner’s sugar until fluffy.Whisk flour, salt and pecans in a separate bowl.Add to the butter mixture. Press dough into the buttered 8” square pan. Score into 24 squares and chill for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle ½ teaspoon dried lavender over the dough before baking. Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees. Cool and slice along the scored lines.

Autumn added gluten-free snickerdoodles and Greta, the baker of the group made an assortment of goodies like ginger cookies with Hershey’s kisses, jello cookie balls, chocolate covered pretzels, and cake balls (which she also made as a treat for her wedding last summer).

And finally, Katie made chocolate cinnamon crisscrosses.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
Reserve an additional sugar 1/4-1/2 cup sugar.

Directions:
Beat the butter with an electric mixer. Add 1 c sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Beat until combined. Beat in melted chocolate, eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour with the mixer.Cover and chill dough for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Using the tines of a fork dipped in reserved sugar, flatten balls to about 1/2 inch thickness by pressing the fork in two directions to form a crisscross mark.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 min or until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute and the move to a cooling rack. Makes about 36.

Food for Thought:
-For one batch of the chocolate cinnamon crisscrosses, Katie substituted cayenne and chili powder for the cinnamon. About 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.
-For the jello cake balls, Greta dipped them in almond bark instead to the Bakers Chocolate. The more
freezer time after step 1 the better, she put them in for an hour but 3 would have been better.
-For the cake balls, Greta always freezes the pre formed balls overnight before coating them in
almond bark. You can put them on sticks for cake pops prior to the first freeze.

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