Island cookbook author shares sweet ways to bake up family memories
We have loved creating Christmas memories with our children and grandchildren from the youngest ages. The little ones still love licking spoons and sneaking bites of cookie dough. Candy sprinkles and dusts of flour often are spread all over the kitchen.
When cooking with children, everyone can relax and take perfection off the table. Here are some favorites from my “Grand Cookbook of Sweets and Treats,” for grandparents and grandchildren to cook together. Friends of all ages are welcome to join in the fun.
Holiday Cookie Cut-Outs
Makes: 30-36 cut-outs
1 stick (½ cup) margarine, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. With mixer on high speed, mix margarine and sugar until very creamy. Add egg and vanilla and continue beating.
Sift flour together with baking powder. Gradually add flour to above mixture and then mix on low speed until dough is firm and no longer sticky.
Roll into 4 balls about the size of an orange. Spread flour on wax paper and rub flour onto rolling pin. Roll sections of dough out flat on wax paper and cut into all sorts of fun shapes with favorite cookie cutters. Continue rolling excess from the cut-outs into balls and cutting out the shapes. Remove carefully and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment.
Before baking, decorate with colorful Christmas sprinkles. (Or, after baking, create your own festive decorations with your favorite frosting.) Bake 10–12 minutes. With spatula, remove immediately from cookie sheet and place on wax paper to cool.
Wheat sandwich bread
Creamy peanut butter
Mini round-shaped pretzels
Chocolate chips for eyes
Halved maraschino cherries
Trim off crust and cut each bread slice diagonally into 4 triangles. Spread triangles with peanut butter. Place pretzel in top middle of longest area of triangle to make antlers. Peanut butter will hold the antlers in place. Place chocolate chips for eyes. Place halved cherries for the nose on pointed tip of bread triangle.
Festive Krispie Wreaths
Makes: About 30-35 treats
6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
4 cups miniature marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
Green food coloring
Holiday candy sprinkles, stars and miniature M&M’s
Melt margarine and marshmallows in microwave for about 1 or 1½ minutes. Stir until mixture is creamy. Add green food coloring (about 6-8 drops) and stir until smooth. Gently fold in Rice Krispies until mixture is coated green.
Line two large cookie sheets with parchment. Spray 2 spoons with Pam and drop mounds of the mixture on parchment. Butter your fingers and make a hole in the middle and press into wreath shape. These are very sticky, so adults can shape the wreaths and let the kids decorate them with miniature M&M’s and a mix of holiday color sprinkles.
Let set at room temperature, uncovered overnight, or until no longer sticky. Store in air-tight container.
Easy Peanut Butter Chews
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup corn syrup
11⁄3 cups crunchy peanut butter
4 cups corn flakes
Boil sugar and corn syrup on stove top in a large pot. Bring to a full boil and boil for only about 10-15 seconds, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter just until creamy. Then gently fold in the corn flakes until completely coated with the peanut butter mixture.
Drop by teaspoons on wax paper and let set at room temperature until firm. Place in holiday-themed mini baking cups and arrange on a colorful tray of cookies.
Winter Snow Balls
Makes: About 30 cookies
2 sticks butter, room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans or ground almonds
Additional powdered sugar for sifting over cookies
Preheat oven to 350 F. With mixer on high speed, blend butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in almond extract. Gradually add flour, mixing on low until all is combined. Stir in pecans or ground almonds.
Roll in 1-inch balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet about 20 minutes or until bottom of cookies are light brown. Cool completely while still on the cookie sheet.
Sift on or roll cookies in more powdered sugar. These cookies freeze well.
Two-Step Holiday Fudge
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil. Leave foil edges out on 2 sides so you can easily lift out fudge when set. Grease foil with butter.
In microwave-safe bowl, stir together condensed milk and chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 1 to 1½ minutes until chocolate is melted. Check and stir after every 30 seconds.
When creamy, stir in ¾ cup of the chopped walnuts and quickly spread and press into the foil-lined pan. Mixture will be thick. Immediately sprinkle remaining ½ cup of walnuts over top and press nuts into chocolate with wax paper. Leave out at room temperature until set.
Use edges of foil to lift out fudge in one piece. Freeze until ready to serve. Thaw, cut into small squares and serve on your Christmas buffet dessert table. Or, package for gifts in festive holiday tins.
Recipes are Justice family favorites from the “Grand Cookbook of Sweets and Treats.” Martha Justice created the book for grandparents and grandchildren to enjoy cooking together. Parents, friends and grandfriends are welcome, too. The prop-up book with large type and easy to follow recipes is available for holiday giving at www.grandcookbook.com or email Martha at firstname.lastname@example.org.