Well, the cookie baking has begun and there are so many good recipes coming my way I have to share these, sent in by friends and readers of this column. I’m going to try them all, especially the highly recommended eggnog cookies.
— This recipe starts with a cooked custard, eliminating any danger from raw eggs.
Makes 6 cups
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups whipping cream or 2 cups half-and-half
1-1⁄2 tsps. vanilla extract
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Use a saucepan or stockpot large enough to hold 2 quarts.
In saucepan, beat together the eggs and sugar until smooth.
Stir in 2 cups milk.
Cook over medium low heat, whisking or stirring frequently.
Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches 160 F on a food thermometer.
Remove from heat.
Slowly add the 2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half while whisking together until smooth.
Add vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and combine until incorporated.
Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled —several hours or overnight.
Serve garnished with your choice of toppings: whipped cream, chocolate curls, maraschino cherries, cinnamon sticks or peppermint sticks.
Brandy, rum, whiskey or flavored liqueur may be added before serving if desired.
— Doris Johnson, a dairy farmer, says she makes her own eggnog using eggs from her chickens. “Sometimes I’ll use duck eggs if they’re still laying,” she explains. “But the real reason I make the eggnog is to make these cookies.”
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup eggnog
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 to 5 Tbsps. eggnog
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheet and set aside.
To make cookies: In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars until fluffy. Add egg yolks, eggnog and vanilla, continue beating until creamy. Add flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Mix until well combined.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned on bottom. Let cool on wire racks.
To make frosting: Cream butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add eggnog, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat for three minutes until smooth. Frost cooled cookies and sprinkle nutmeg over the frosting if desired.
Chocolate rum balls
3-1/4 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 Tbsps. corn syrup
1/2 cup rum
In a large bowl, stir together the crushed vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, cocoa and nuts. Blend in corn syrup and rum.
Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in additional powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container for several days to develop the flavor. Roll again in powdered sugar before serving.
— Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen is a traditional German Christmas treat, somewhat resembling gingerbread. There are many variations of this cookie. Some are iced with a powdered sugar glaze and some have chocolate; most are decorated with almonds. Often, these are made using cookie molds and these can be quite large.
Debbie writes, “I brought this recipe over from Germany almost 20 years ago. It has molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, honey and brown sugar in it. This is one of my favorite memories of Germany at Christmastime.”
Makes 6 dozen cookies
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup diced candied citron
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup powdered sugar
In a medium saucepan, stir together the honey and molasses. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the citron and hazelnuts. Cover dough and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets. Using a small amount of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into small rectangles and place them 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Brush the icing over the cookies while they are still hot and quickly remove them to wire cooling racks. Store in airtight container with an orange or apple for a few days to mellow.
To make the icing: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat to 235 F or the soft ball stage. Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar. If icing becomes sugary while brushing cookies, reheat slightly, adding a little water.