Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Cookies

A few weeks ago, I made about 12 dozen cookies to give away to family and friends for the holidays. I made sugar (a bust), peanut butter blossoms, magic cookie bars, chocolate chip cookies and biscochitos. I sent packages of a variety of these goodies to friends and that was the most fun. My friends were pleasantly surprised to receive a box of cookies out of no where which makes me all kinds of giddy!

Peanut butter blossoms are a tradition every Christmas and I used this same awesome recipe for the chocolate chip cookies. This is the first year I made the biscochitos, though, which are a Mexican (or Spanish, if you want to go that far back) cookie that we always get at the Mexican bakeries in Houston. I had a few recipes but the first I tried called for lard. Now, I've never SEEN lard, I've never SMELLED lard and I've certainly never COOKED with lard before. It was definitely different. I actually kind of thought it smelled like turkey. Weird, I know. But I made the cookies which vaguely smelled (like turkey, to me) and I just couldn't give them away. I made another batch with Crisco and they were SO MUCH better. My mom said, after comparing the two, that the lard cookie tasted richer. I agree but mostly because the Crisco cookie might've been lighter because it didn't have that heavy turkey taste. (I kid! But seriously; that mess is OFF.)

So I sent out the Crisco biscochitos to my friends in the shapes of Christmasy stars! Because my first attempt at sugar cookies was a bust, I had a second go at them. (See further down.)

It's funny but I made all those cookies and because I planned to give so many away, I really only ate one or two from each batch. I had to save the rest for others! So I made another pan of Magic Cookie Bars that stayed home for family. They're kind of my favorite bar-thing on the planet so. I gots to have some for meeeee.


1 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 to 4 Tablespoons red wine, brandy or sherry
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed/ground anise seed
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat lard with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the sugar, then the egg. Beat in 2 Tablespoons of the wine and the anise seed. Toss the flour together with the baking powder and salt, if using. Gently stir in, adding more wine as needed to form a soft dough. Let stand for 10 minutes or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1/4-inch thick and cut into shapes as desired. Dip the top side of each cookie in the cinnamon-sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon size, just until the edges turn a pale blond. Let cool a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in a cookie jar or airtight container.

THEN I committed myself to making sugar cookies and it came down to Christmas Eve but I did them. Next year I'll prepare better and do them right but these came out cute. :)


Grace said...

12 dozen cookies, eh? isn't that called a gross? completely inappropriate name if you ask me--they're all sensational. happy 2009, niki!

Sophie said...

All of the Christmas cookies would look wonderful in a gift basket, I really like the bright color you used on the sugar cookies :).