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Are you thinking about Christmas cookies yet? (Seriously!)

Yes, I'm already excited about Christmas cookies and have started a list.

Are there any other anticipatory bakers out there? What will you be baking this December?

Here's my cookie list at the moment... Most years we give cookies to the girls' teachers and after-school activity coaches, school front desk staff, relatives, friends, neighbors, etc. This year I'm trying to focus on things that can be made somewhat quickly... I always say that but the best laid plans...!

1st cookie: molded classic shortbread - recipe thanks to Chuck (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/338411); I add a few T water into the dough, and prick with a fork after pressing into my snowflakes pan; dust w/confectioners sugar when cool.

Also: one or two of the following:
• Tartine soft glazed gingerbread recipe (molded with a cookie press or pan).. or a new recipe that was designed for pressed cookies.. possibly then dipped in chocolate
• Tartine biscotti recipe (delicious, but they did not spread as much during baking as I would have liked... ideas?)
• hazelnut shortbreads from the Bakesale Cookbook; or
• Chocolate "nut" molded cookie with a ganache filling
• “Florentiners a la Mama” - King Arthur Flour
• Speculaas or springerle from this site https://houseonthehill.net/recipes-an...

Plus:
• Chocolate fudge (need a fabulous recipe - dark and not too sweet or peanut butter/chocolate), or
• Gourmet’s classic lemon thins (I wonder if it's possible to make these uniformly round - have not yet tried this recipe), or
• Mexican wedding cookies

Has anyone ever given ganache as a gift? I mean how easy is that?! I was thinking of putting it up in little jars, maybe to gift in trios of three, with pretty labels (Grand Marnier ganache; peppermint; Kahlua; etc), with instructions to keep in the fridge, plus I suppose instructions on how to use or turn it into a buttercream frosting.

Is that just way too much chocolate sauce for people to receive, do you think? If not, has anyone ever tried making white chocolate ganache, and is there a way to do that inexpensively? (I am a total cheater and just use Nestle's chips from Costco with hot cream - but does Costco sell white chocolate?) Where would I get trios of very small jars? (Target had some mid-sized Bell jars... did not see small; maybe at hardware stores? online source?

)

Nuts are another matter. These days, a lot of kids have life-threatening nut allergies. Most adults do not have this allergy, and most of our gifts are going to adults (teachers; school staff; our own friends, etc). Any opinions what to do about this? Should I label each cookie tin "DANGER - NUTS," or put the gingerbreads and classic shortbreads in a separate container - another step and expense, but considerate? Or should I give the recipients more credit and not assume they're dingbats? - Almost everyone who works with or has young children is at this point used to not giving them unknown baked goods - but who knows; it's a busy time of year.... Maybe the easiest is simply to put a pretty "Contains Nuts" label on the tins...

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  1. Yes and no. This year, instead of giving cookies, I'm switching to condiments and spice mixes. They are easier to make and less fattening (in case recipients are on diet).

    But, I'm making Mexican wedding cakes, chocolate chips and perhaps, ginger molasses for our own consumption!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nattythecook

      As I, and my acquaintances, grow older, I notice the enthusiasm lessening for cookies. Glad I worked it for all those years!

    2. I wasn't thinking about Christmas cookies until I read your post (seriously!)

      1. Absolutely! I look forward to getting started, each year I have to make myself wait so that I don't have a bunch of stale cookies on my hands by the time we get to the holidays.

        I'll be making shortbread, classic (for me) and espresso (for my mom), sugar cookies for the kids to decorate. I want to make one of those sugar cookie trees this year, the kind made by stacking up star shaped cookies of descending size. My dad and the kids love something I call bake sale squares, they are a mixture of chocolate and butterscotch chips melted with peanut butter and mini marshmallows mixed in, so I always end up making a couple goes of those.

        I want to try making crackers this year. I started making cheese (chevre and fresh moz) this summer. I would like to make gifts of chevre, homemade crackers and some kind of condiment to serve with it.

        I know I'll wind up baking more than that. Once I start looking through recipes I will find more recipes that I love just have to make.
        As for nuts in the cookies, I would either label the cookies with little tags making it clear which ones have nuts. Allergies are serious and just think how you would feel if someone dove into your cookies without thinking. I agree that it is their responsibility, but why take chances.

        10 Replies
        1. re: cheesymama

          Mmmm, the chevre / crackers / condiment combo sounds great!! I think pear or fig jam would go wonderfully - would love to hear what you end up giving.

          1. re: cheesymama

            I made those sugar cookie trees one year but can't remember what is used to stack the cookies. It was a long time ago. I remember they looked neat, How do you do it again?

            1. re: karykat

              I've seen some with dowels running down the middle, I assume you use a small round cookie cutter to make a hole in the centre of each cookie. I'm thinking you could use icing to attach them , but I guess that would make it hard to take them apart when you want to eat it.
              One of the grocery stores near me (Toronto) has a stacking tree cookie cutter kit this year, so I am going to start with that.

              1. re: cheesymama

                They will give you what you need to attach them I'm sure.

            2. re: cheesymama

              How far in advance do you make your sugar cookies? I tried Peggy Porschen's recipe which says they keep for a month but they were a bit soft after only a week in a tupperware. I want to get the cookies out of the way before I have to ice 3 massive fruit cakes!

              1. re: gembellina

                My mother-in law freezes her sugar cookies in an airtight container. They keep very well.

                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  Huh, freezing never even occurred to me. Un-iced, I'm guessing?

                  1. re: gembellina

                    Yes uniced because she doesn't ice hers. She goes the Christmas shapes and colored sugar route. They really don't have any after taste. You'd never know.

                2. re: gembellina

                  Freezing is good. Whenever I freeze anything, I first freeze it on a baking sheet with no wrapping. After it is frozen solid, then it goes into freezer bags. This eliminates frost build-up, which has a negative effect on whatever you are freezing.

                  To store cookies at room temperature, the very best way I have found is to use old-fashioned cookie tins. They work much better than plastic for cookies. Once in a while you will get one that has a looser-fitting lid - just throw a piece of foil over the top before putting on the lid; this will tighten it. Cookie tins are available at this time of the year at baking stores, craft stores, and discount stores.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    Since I never have enough room in the freezer for cookies I do all my doughs in the beginning of the month and bake what I need for each tranche of cookie deliveries. Then all the cookies are fresh baked and just forming the cookies are something I can do on a weeknight. There is one exception to that rule which is a pressed filled butter cookie which keeps really well.

              2. My best friend and I started planning our Christmas cookies during our October vacation! We have already set our weekend after Thanksgiving date to start baking the "freezable" ones. We will each do three types of dough ahead, and will bake them together. I haven't finalized exactly what kinds I will do, but probably gingersnaps, almond crescents, and one other kind, probably some kind of slice and bake (homemade) kind, like pinwheels or some type of shortbread. We are also trying out Emeril's fruitcake recipe for the first time this year. Closer to Christmas, I will probably do a couple of other kinds of cookies.

                1. Ha! Visions dancing in head are springerlie, lebkuchen, and pfeffernuss -- but probably only one of those will get done.

                  I want to try Smitten Kitchen's apple pie cookies,

                  http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/10/app...

                  and will do these “Trios”,

                  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  Pic of last years Trios:

                  Aaagh! I want to do ALL of the old ones and ALL of the new ones!

                  Here's an inspiring thread--

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740858

                   
                  1 Reply
                  1. re: blue room

                    Your trios are very dramatic looking. Very pretty.