Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Favorite Christmas Cookies 2018

This year marked another one for my annual "Great Christmas Cookie Bake Off".

I figured that between all the packages of cookies that I send to family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, I bake between 300-500 cookies over a 2-3 week period. I prep all of my cookie dough in November, by saving each batch of dough in a gallon Ziplock bag and freezing it. When I'm ready to bake, I just pull whatever bag(s) I want out of the freezer and let it defrost in the refrigerator at least overnight.

For shipping, I bake all the cookies I want to send on a Sunday and ship them 2-day UPS on Monday. That way, recipients will get their cookies as fresh as possible without it making me broke. :-) I usually bake and ship-out over a 2-week period, as it's a lot of work, but I do enjoy it.

Over the years, I've learned to become selective of who I ship cookies to. I used to send out a lot more, but for some people Christmas cookies are not something they want or need, so I take the hint and focus on sending them to people who do.

Anywho, I have two keeper recipes to share this year! I usually try at least one new recipe and it either "makes the list" or not.

Santa's Helpers
Recipe Source: Sherry from the Cooking Forum

*These cookies are to die for! I've had this recipe for years and years, but never got around to trying them...OMG!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
Add 1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla Beat until smooth

2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt Beat until smooth

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Stir until smooth and then add:
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

Divide dough into quarters. Form each quarter into 6 balls. Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. With finger, make a wide deep depression in each cookie, clear to the edge. Fill with topping. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, (or in a convection oven, about 9 minutes) 

If you undercook these, the filling is so heavy that it will break through when you pick them up, so I make them crunchy. You could also not make the depression in them as deep and there would be more dough to suport the filling so that it did not break through. Also, if I make a huge depression in them, I sometimes make half again as much filling so I don't run out.

Makes 24 cookies

Santa's Helpers

Chinese Almond Cookies
Recipe Source: I can't remember

*I've been making these for the past 2-3 years and they are probably my #1 favorite cookie!

1 1/3 cups of almond flour, lightly packed
1 cup of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
Pinch of kosher salt
2 eggs (1 for use in the dough, another for later)
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 3/4 cups of flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Slivered almonds

Place the almond flour, salt, and butter into an electric beater with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for three minutes. The mixture will become course and chunky looking. Add one of the eggs, reserving the other for later, and the almond extract. Mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking soda then add to the butter mixture at low speed. Mix until just combined. Take the dough and flatten it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for two hours to chill.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the other egg into a bowl and beat it. Take pieces of dough and roll them into balls about a half-inch wide. Place them on the sheet about and inch apart and then press them down slightly with your palm to make a coin shape.

Place a slivered almond onto each cookie and lightly press it into place, then paint the surface of the cookie with some of the beaten egg using a pastry brush or your finger (this will give the cookie a lacquered appearance once it bakes). Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges just being to tan. Cool on the sheet on a wire rack.

Makes 5 dozen.

Chinese Almond Cookies

Monday, December 17, 2018

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

I spy with my my little eye....a furry guy with my Christmas bows to untie.

Le sigh...

Friday, December 07, 2018

Soapy Friday: Packaging Concepts - First Revision

So, last Friday night I met with my graphic designer to go over the first packaging concept designs for my soap boxes and other labeling. I could NOT be more thrilled!...

I loved something from all of these!
 I love that she provides 5 mock-up concepts and we go from there. There will be 2-3 more revision cycles from this (I believe) until we narrow it down to the perfect design. I'm liking a little bit of all the boxes, so we'll pull that all in to design the one we want as a final concept.

So much fun!
Once that is done, then we decide how we want these to be printed. Glossy? Flat? Embossed? Foil?

I can't wait!


Monday, December 03, 2018

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Miss Thang looks adorable snuggling up to her Yeowww! Banana...I've had these things for a few years and they love them. They're filled with catnip and the two I originally purchased have been used and abused intensely. Mostly, they just sit there and lick them over-and-over-and-over. There's a few bunny kicks thrown in for enthusiasm.

They have thousands of 5-star reviews on Amazon, and they're worth it! I'm going to order 2 more for Christmas. :-)

A Thang and Her Banana


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