I am normally not much of a holiday decorator when this time of year rolls around. Sure, you will find a Christmas tree in the entry and a wreath on our door and probably some greenery across the mantle, but it’s just not my thing. I don’t do tablescapes and Martha Stewart I am not. Are you surprised?
I used to get more excited about the whole holiday season when the kids were younger, but now that all of our children are older and pretty much off doing their own thing (with their significant others), the holidays are just not as thrilling. In fact, we spent Christmas at The Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina a few years ago and had a splendid time and phenomenal food. They did the decorating and the cooking and cleaned it all up! Yay!
Now, I know that we will probably get into the holiday spirit when there are little ones running around again waiting for Santa and leaving milk and cookies for the jolly old chap. It is fun when children get excited Christmas morning when they see all their presents…but please, don’t any of our kids take this as a holiday wish from us. We don’t need little ones running around anytime soon. You all are not ready to be parents yet. We are not ready to be grandparents just yet!
Although holiday decorating is not my thing, baking has always been one of my favorite things to do during the holidays, so this year is definitely a bit of a challenge with this very unfashionable and rather fat boot on my leg after my ankle surgery.
I am getting around the kitchen much better now that I can walk with the boot, but you still may not see as many holiday goodies from me this year because we certainly don’t need to eat them. Of course, whatever I do make, I will give away to skinny neighbors and friends! That’s the nice thing about the holidays, you can bake all of this calorie laden and fattening stuff these delightful goodies and then give it away as gifts!
I decided to make a really festive and very “Christmasy” cookie on my first foray into the holiday baking gig this year. I used to make these as part of my rather extensive cookie baking collection many years ago. The kids loved these because they are so cute. They are also quite nice to give as gifts or to have for a party. These would be perfect to leave by the fireplace with that glass of milk for Santa, too.
If you are looking for some other great recipes for holiday cookies, do not forget these incredible Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars (guest post for me by Debra at Smith Bites)! I also have three days of holiday cookie baking from last year (the photos aren’t as pretty since they transferred from my old website, but I can assure you the cookies recipes are awesome!). Here are the links to Molasses Cookies and Lime-Glazed Coconut Snowballs, Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies and Jam Sandwiches and Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies and Pecan Bars.
These are other suggestions for great cookies and treats to try this holiday season and a really spectacular cake:
Christmas Tree Cake – I Am Baker
Chocolate Hazelnut Kiss Cookies – Cake Duchess
Coffee-Spice Shortbread with Crystallized Ginger – There’s a Newf in My Soup
Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallow Pops – White on Rice Couple
Candy Cane Mint Chocolate Fudge – Cookin’ Canuck
Coconut Macaroons with Nutella – Smith Bites
Exquisite Dark Chocolate Shortbread – Daydreamer Desserts
Cinnamon Roll Cookies with Vanilla Glaze – Dine & Dish
Pistachio and Cranberry White Chocolate Bark – Brown Eyed Baker
The recipe I used for Candy Cane Cookies many years ago did not include peppermint, but this one adds the extract to the dough. I do like the addition of the peppermint, but if you prefer, you could certainly leave it out. Be sure to refrigerate the dough for at least four hours as it will soften up when you start to roll out it out to shape the candy canes.
Have fun with your holiday baking!
Candy Cane Cookies
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup milk (use whole milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food color
4 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
4 tablespoons sugar
Beat together 1 cup sugar, the butter, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg in large bowl. Mixture will be loose. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt until dough comes together. It will be sticky. Divide dough in half. Stir food color into one half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Heat oven to 375ºF. Stir together peppermint candy and 2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.
For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on a lightly floured surface (if you use too much flour, the dough will not stick together). Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.