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SAVOR THE SEASON: There is something joyful about holiday cookies

December 21, 2018
By CAROL SWIRSKY - Sales Representative (news@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

Today there is an infinite digital library of recipes, tips, tricks, creative twists and spins on all things sweet and savory for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

I enjoy the inspiration and have tried many new dishes and ingredients about which I might never have known. It's a trial and error, but some are now part of my go-to repertoire.

Still, there is something indescribably joyful, nostalgic and heartwarming about time-honored recipes and cookbooks, especially around the holidays. Something lives on in that ink on paper, whether it is in print or a handwritten gem.

Article Photos

Cookies and a cookbook
(News photo — Carol Swirsky)

Two of our family's perennial cookie favorites, from my mom's treasured collection, are Sugar Cookie Cutouts and Toffee Squares. Cutouts, of course, take some time, but it's well worth it and lots of fun to do with a group. The toffee squares are a bar cookie that requires very little time. I always wonder how something that can be done so quickly can taste so incredibly good. It might have something to do with sugar + butter + vanilla extract + chocolate = how can you go wrong?

You can add a "local" touch to enjoying these recipes, too. Use farm-fresh eggs; add a tablespoon of local honey or maple syrup to the dough; or make a maple icing for the cutouts. You can also serve with a mug of local hot cider or hot chocolate made with locally sourced milk.

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Cookie-Jar Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp grated orange peel

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 tsp milk

Oven at 375 degrees.

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla, grated orange peel, mix thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients, stir into creamed mixture together with milk.

Divide dough in half. Chill 1 hour so it's easy to handle. Roll out one half, keeping the other chilled till you're ready to roll it.

Roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters; put on greased cookie sheet. Add sprinkles, decorate as desired. Bake plain if you prefer to decorate with icing after baking. Bake 12 minutes.

Makes approximately 2 dozen, depending on size of your cutter shapes.

(Source: "Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook")

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Toffee Squares

1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 to 3 milk chocolate bars (Hershey's 1 1/4 oz each approximately)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts, but pecans or hazelnuts would be nice as well)

Oven at 350 degrees.

Mix the butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. (I use a stand mixer, but by hand is fine.)

Measure flour by dipping method, or by sifting. Stir in flour and salt into butter mixture until dough is well blended. Spread this mixture in a rectangle about 13x10 inches on greased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch round edge of baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. (For a softer cake-like cookie, spread dough in an oblong pan (13x9). Bake 25-30 minutes. Crust will still be soft. Remove from oven. Immediately place separated pieces of chocolate on top. Let stand until soft; spread evenly over entire surface. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut in small squares while warm.

Makes 6-7 dozen squares.

(Source: "Betty Crocker's Cooky Book," Golden Press, 1963)

Whatever you choose to bake or make this holiday season, I hope that you'll find time to dig into your own family recipe treasures, or maybe even find time to try mine. May your holidays be sweet.

 
 

 

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