Zesty Lemon Slice Cookies

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Sliced cookies of any variety are super easy to make. Because the dough for sliced cookies is easiest to work with while frozen, these cookies are a great choice when you want to make dough at your leisure, pop it in the freezer, and bake just before serving with no mess or fuss. A few sprinkles on these cookies lend a festive flair for the holidays, while the zesty lemon flavor offers a perfect balance to all of that holiday chocolate!

WIN_20151103_143245Ingredients (Makes approximately 60 Zesty Lemon Slice Cookies)

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

1 egg

2 cups flour

1/2 cup diced candied lemon peel

multicolored sprinkles

WIN_20151103_143753Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and lemon extract; mix well.

Step 2) Stir in flour, baking powder, and cream of tartar. Dough will be stiff.

Step 3) Refrigerate dough in a covered container for at least two hours or overnight.

Step 4) Working with half of the dough at a time, roll dough into a long, thin rectangle on a floured counter top. Sprinkle each rectangle with half of the candied lemon peel.

Step 5) Roll the rectangles into long, thin logs. Roll each log in multicolored sprinkles. Wrap each log in parchment paper and freeze for at least two hours.

WIN_20151106_091614Step 6) Slice frozen dough logs into 1/4 inch slices. Place dough slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 8 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies just begin to brown. Cool Zesty Lemon Slice Cookies on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Peppermint Snickerdoodles

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snickerdoodles

Chocolate Peppermint Snickerdoodles (green) and Hidden Gumdrop Cookies (purple)

Who knew it was possible to improve upon Snickerdoodles? Amazingly, these Chocolate Peppermint Snickerdoodles are even more awesome than their traditional namesake. A little bit of cocoa powder and a punch of peppermint are all that is needed to transform old fashioned Snickerdoodles into something extra special. These are easy to make (no rolling pins required) and are wonderful dipped in coffee or hot cocoa. Because they aren’t frosted, Chocolate Peppermint Snickerdoodles are safe in pudgy little hands… the pint size elves in your life will surely steal these cookies, but they won’t end up smearing frosting on your couch.  😉

Ingredients (Makes 40 cookies)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (a little goes a long way!)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Green sugar crystals (for garnish)

WIN_20151102_164629Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and peppermint extract; mix well.

Step 2) Using a sturdy wooden spoon, mix in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and cream of tartar. Dough will be stiff.

Step 3) Refrigerate Chocolate Peppermint Snickerdoodle dough in a covered container for at least two hours or overnight.

Step 4) Roll chilled dough into spheres, approximately 1 inch in diameter. Dip one side of spheres in green sugar crystals.

Step 5) Place dough spheres, sugared side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Leave two inches of space between dough spheres.

Step 6) Bake cookies in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until cookies are set and bottoms of cookies begin to brown.

Step 7) Allow Chocolate Peppermint Snickerdoodles to cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

VARIATION: Instead of using peppermint extract and green sugar crystals, try using orange extract and orange sugar crystals. Chocolate Orange Snickerdoodles are equally delicious!

Hidden Gumdrop Cookies

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Popular with children, these colorful cookies have a hidden surprise – a gumdrop baked into the center! We used green gumdrops and purple icing (which could also work for Mardi Gras) for our Hidden Gumdrop Cookies. Feel free to use a variety of gumdrop colors and frosting shades, to create a festive, multicolored cookie platter!

Ingredients (Makes 30 cookies)

30 gumdrop candies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 2/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

WIN_20151103_151134For the icing:

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon rum

1 drop food coloring (any color you wish)

colored sugar, optional

WIN_20151103_142030Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and almond extract; mix well.

Step 2) Stir in flour, baking powder, and cream of tartar. Refrigerate dough in a covered container for at least two hours or overnight.

Step 3) Roll chilled dough 1/4 inch thick on a floured countertop. Cut 2 WIN_20151103_1426151/2 inch circles out of dough.

Step 4) Place a gumdrop in the center of each circle, and fold/roll the dough so that you have spheres of dough with a gumdrop in the center of each.

Step 5) Bake cookie spheres on baking sheets lined with parchment paper in a 375 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies begin to brown. Cookies will spread, so be sure to allow about 2 inches of space between spheres of dough.

Step 6) While cookies cool, blend together butter, powdered sugar, rum, and food coloring for icing. Pipe icing onto the center of each cooled cookie, right over the gumdrop (a sandwich bag with a corner snipped off works well as a homemade pastry bag). Sprinkle with colored sugar, and Voila! Your Hidden Gumdrop Cookies are ready to enjoy!

HINT: Hidden Gumdrop Cookies freeze well, but should be allowed to thaw completely before serving. Who wants to eat frozen gumdrops? Not me!

Sour Cream Snowflakes

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Awesome. Seriously folks, these Sour Cream Snowflakes are that good! Think sugar cookies with a little sumptin’ sumptin’ extra… the sour cream serves as both a fat and a liquid, adding a subtle depth of flavor that can’t be achieved with, say, a bit of extra butter or a splash of milk. The dough is easy to roll and bakes to a firm consistency perfect for decorating.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon rum

1/2 cup sour cream (not light)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 1/4 cup flour

For the icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

2 drops blue food coloring

Blue sugar crystals or sprinkles for decorating

WIN_20151117_145829Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg, rum, and sour cream. Mix well.

Step 2) Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix by hand; dough will be stiff.

Step 3) Chill dough for at least one hour before rolling 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  Cut dough into snowflake shapes, and carefully transfer to greased cookie sheets.

Step 4) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until edges just begin to brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Step 5) While cookies are cooling, blend together butter, powdered sugar, and milk to make icing. Spoon 1/4 cup of icing into a plastic sandwich bag, and snip a tiny corner from the bag to make a homemade pastry bag. You should be able to easily squeeze icing from the bag and onto each snowflake, as shown above. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more milk. If the icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

Step 6) After piping icing onto your cookies, sprinkle them with blue sugar crystals or sprinkles. Let it snow!

Peanut Butter Buds

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The number one rule of creating a spectacular cookie display for any holiday event is VARIETY! Think Chocolate and non-chocolate, nuts and no nuts, something red, something green, something intricately frosted, something oversized… and something really, really tiny!

I imagine everyone is familiar with peanut butter cookies topped with a great big Hershey’s Kiss – they’re one of the most popular Christmas cookies around. Today’s Peanut Butter Buds are the little brothers of those cookies… just as delicious, but super small. Each cookie is barely one bite – perfect for a guilt free snack!

Ingredients (makes 4 dozen mini cookies)

6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 teaspoon rum

1 cup flour

1/4 cup of sugar (for rolling, not for mixing into the dough)

1 cup of Hershey’s Mini Kisses (or use chocolate chips)

WIN_20151117_220255Directions

Step 1) Cream together peanut butter, butter, and sugars. Add egg and rum. Mix well.

Step 2) Stir in salt, baking powder, and flour. Refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight).

Step 3) Roll chilled dough into small balls, approximately the size of a large marble. Use no more than one teaspoon of dough per ball.

Step 4) Roll each ball in sugar and place on greased cookie sheets, leaving at least one inch of space between cookies. Press a chocolate chip or Hershey’s Mini Kiss into the center of each ball, as shown.

Step 5) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 7 – 8 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are just beginning to turn  golden brown.

Step 6) Gently transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before storing.

Speculaas Wreath Cookies

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Speculaas Wreath Cookies were the most popular cookie on my dessert table at a recent holiday event. I do hope you’ll give them a try! Speculaas are Dutch spiced cookies in a wide variety of shapes, the most common of which are better known as windmill cookies. Whether you cut them into wreaths or windmills, these delightful cookies get their signature flavor from a spice blend called Speculaaskruiden. It’s easy to blend yourself (see recipe below). In a pinch you can substitute pumpkin pie spice mix, though the flavor will be slightly different.

WIN_20151102_164629Ingredients (makes about 36 wreath cookies)

1 cup real butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons Speculaaskruiden spice mix (see recipe, below)

For the icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

2 drops green food coloring

Green sugar crystals (for decorating)

Small cinnamon candies (for decorating)

WIN_20151116_215052Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add egg and mix well.

Step 2) Add flour, baking powder, salt, and Speculaaskruiden.  Mix by hand; dough will be stiff.

Step 3) Chill dough for at least one hour before rolling 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  Cut dough into wreath shapes, and carefully transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Step 4) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Step 5) While cookies are cooling, blend together butter, powdered sugar, and milk to make icing. Spoon 1/4 cup of icing into a plastic sandwich bag, and snip a tiny corner from the bag to make a homemade pastry bag. You should be able to easily squeeze icing from the bag and onto each cookie wreath, as shown above. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more milk. If the icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

Step 6) After piping icing onto your cookie wreaths, sprinkle them with green sugar crystals. Place a cinnamon candy on each wreath. Beautiful!

picture1180 Speculaaskruiden Spice Mix (makes enough for three batches of cookies)

Stir together (if using powdered spices) or grind together in a coffee grinder (if using whole spices):

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon star anise

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Store spice mix in a tightly sealed container and store away from heat and light.  Open container and smell whenever you need a smile.  🙂

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