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Best Holiday Cookies Ever

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Tradition is fine, but how about shaking up your holiday cookie repertoire with some new and exciting recipes? Here are four cookies that will delight your friends and family—my clan always insists that I bring them to holiday parties or other events. I keep a batch of baked cookies in my freezer so that I’m always ready to serve them at home or bring them as a gift. And if you’re gluten-free, I’ve got you covered—see the sidebar for how to adapt the recipes. Another cookie, please!

Potato Chip Cookies

These are sweet, salty, crunchy and delicious.

½ pound butter (2 sticks)

½ cup sugar

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup coarsely crushed potato chips

2 Tablespoons chopped nuts (any kind)

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or grease the sheet and set it aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting, and add flour, potato chips and nuts. Blend about two minutes or until it comes together. Be careful not to overmix the dough. Drop large tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet about two inches apart. Place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap over the cookies, and flatten until about one-quarter-inch thick. Remove paper or plastic wrap. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on a rack, and sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top. Makes about 20 cookies.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Chocoholics love these. Hint for melting chocolate: Chocolate can burn easily. It’s best to melt it in a double boiler. If you don’t have one, a saucepan placed in another pan of hot water is a good substitute.

¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ Tablespoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

3 Tablespoons butter

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into two-inch pieces

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into two-inch pieces

3 large eggs

1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, and set aside. Melt the butter, unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler. Stir to make sure the chocolate mixture is completely melted. Remove it from the heat, and set it aside to cool.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the cooled, melted chocolate mixture, and combine on low speed. Add the flour mixture. Continue to beat on low speed until almost combined, about one minute. Remove the bowl from mixer, and stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop the dough using two teaspoons or a half-ounce ice-cream scoop onto lined cookie sheets. The cookies should be about two inches in diameter and placed three inches apart. Bake until set, 12 minutes. Remove to racks to cool. Makes about 24 cookies.

Key Lime Cookies

You can use bottled or fresh key lime juice in this recipe—both work equally well. Or you can use regular lime juice (but the key lime juice gives a brighter citrus flavor). Lemon curd can be found in a jar in the jam section of the market.

½ cup butter (1 stick)

¼ cup brown sugar

1 egg, separated

1 cup all-purpose flour

2½ Tablespoons key lime juice

1 cup chopped walnuts

½ cup lemon curd

1½ Tablespoons key lime juice

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the egg, place the egg white in a small bowl and add the egg yolk to the mixer. Beat in the egg yolk. Reduce the mixer speed, and add the flour. Blend slightly. Add one tablespoon of the key lime juice and blend. Form the dough into small balls, about one-half-inch in diameter. Dip the balls into the egg white, then roll them in the walnuts. Place the cookies on the lined cookie sheet. Make a depression in the center of each cookie with a small melon scoop or teaspoon. The depressions will be filled with a mixture of lemon curd and key lime juice after the cookies are baked. Place them in the oven for eight minutes. Remove them from the oven, and depress the centers again. Return the cookies to the oven, and bake for 10 minutes more. While the cookies bake, mix the lemon curd and remaining one-and-a-half tablespoons of key lime juice together. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let cool slightly. Fill the centers with the key lime mixture. Finish cooling on a rack. Makes about 20 cookies.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

These melt-in-your-mouth meringues are filled with chocolate chips.

2 egg whites, separated from whole eggs

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

4 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ ounces dark chocolate chips (about ¼ cup)

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs, and discard the yolks or refrigerate for future use. Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar to form a stiff peak. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat again to form a stiff peak. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the mixture onto parchment paper to make cookies about one inch in diameter. Bake for 30 minutes. Test to see that the cookies are dry and easily removed from the paper. Turn off the oven, and let the meringues stay in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Then remove the cookies to a rack to completely cool. Makes about 16 cookies.

To Make Gluten-free Cookies

For those who can’t eat gluten, you can substitute a commercial ­gluten-free flour mixture in the first two recipes above. (Unfortunately, the Key Lime Cookies above are more delicate and difficult to achieve gluten-free.)

Not all gluten-free flours are equally good for making cookies. The brands Cup4Cup and Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour include xanthan gum. Since there is no gluten in the flour, xanthan gum acts as a binding agent that helps hold some moisture and gives the baked good some structure. If using another brand, check the label for xanthan gum or another binder such as guar gum. If you want to add a binder, try one-quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum per one cup of gluten-free flour. Note that not all commercial gluten-free flour mixtures are to be used in a one-to-one substitution for regular flour—read your label to determine the amount to use.

Here’s a simple make-it-yourself gluten-free flour blend…

1 cup certified gluten-free oat flour

1 cup almond flour

1 cup cornstarch

1¼ teaspoons xanthan gum

Mix the ingredients together—makes three cups flour blend. You can substitute one cup of this blend for one cup of all-purpose flour in the ­Potato Chip Cookie and Triple Chocolate Cookie recipes.

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Source: Linda Gassenheimer is an award-winning author of numerous cookbooks including Delicious One-Pot Dishes and Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table. Most recently, she created the recipes for Bottom Line’s Beat Diabetes Now! Also, she writes the syndicated newspaper column “Dinner in Minutes.”
DinnerInMinutes.com Date: December 1, 2017
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