Plain White C’s

I’ve seen quite a few cookies posted for the holiday season this year, and I have quite a few recipes of my own….Some of them laden with ingredients that just shout flavor with spices, nuts, chocolate, or mint….or…all of the above. They’re the cookies with strong personalities; the cookies that almost always take the limelight. They’re flavorful, they’re pretty, and they’re photogenic. And of course…Everybody wants them.

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But sometimes, it’s the simple cookie that makes an even stronger statement. It’s like the “girl next door”. The cookie that you grew up with, but never really “looked” at in that way. It’s the cookie that makes you do a double take after you take that first bite, when all of a sudden; you realize what you’ve been missing all along. It’s the cookie that stands the test of time. The one that you know won’t ever disappoint.

The plain white cookie.

I grew up with this cookie. It was my grandmother’s recipe. But grandma also made these mountainous chocolate chip cookies that were loaded with raisins and nuts. Because I was charmed by the pretty and flavorful chocolate chip cookies, I never really gave these cookies a second glance, that is, until I took that first bite…and did that “double-take”, and appreciated them for their simplicity.

This is truly a plain white cookie. It’s not too sweet at all, and it gets it sweetness, really, from the icing. It tends to be a touch dry, but not so dry that it’s crumbly, because it’s definitely not crumbly…but it begs a cup of coffee or hot cocoa to go with. Actually, after you have one of these cookies with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, then I can honestly say that the coffee or cocoa will be the one begging. Neither will ever be the same without this cookie.

And…with my usual theme.. they’re quick and easy to make.  Simple. Because they’re so easy, and this recipe makes a ton of them, I could call them a filler for the cookie platter, but honestly? They’ll be the first ones to go!

Plain White Cookies
Makes a Gazillion Cookies
The recipe can be cut in half, but I suggest you bake them and share them.
Everyone will love you for it.

Like most grandmother’s, my grandma didn’t measure when she baked. Thank goodness my aunts realized the importance of preserving her recipes, so they watched her, and they wrote down the ingredients and measurements. We are so lucky to have her recipes today.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

6 cups flour
6 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
½ cup shortening
8 eggs
4 tsp vanilla

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, until completely blended.

Spoon walnut size blobs of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frost them with your favorite icing or glaze. Store in an airtight container.
Enjoy!

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Mexican Wedding Cakes

Ok, here’s the scoop…
I’m a Closet Cookie Eater.
And I have been all my life.

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This is how it goes down…

I wait until there’s nobody around when I’m in the kitchen, and then I sneak a couple of cookies and pop them into my mouth before anyone comes back in to catch me. I’ve had so many years of practice; that I can even get a small glass of milk downed in that few minutes of undercover cookie eating!

I know…it’s crazy…I’m crazy….but with such a simple explanation. Closet cookie eating gives me the freedom to eat a couple in front of the family without any eyebrows being raised my way….as in… “Pru, how MANY cookies are you going to eat today???”… What they don’t know helps me to save face.

Unless there’s Mexican Wedding Cakes involved.
Then there’s no saving face.
And eyebrows are raised.

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If you’re familiar with Mexican Wedding Cakes, or Pecan Balls, or whatever you might call them… then you know that they’re buttery drops of nutty goodness loaded with a coating of powdered sugar. It’s that darn powdered sugar that blows me in time and time again. It never fails…I’ll think that I got away with it, but then I’ll have a little blop of powdered sugar on my cheek, or on my sweater, or somewhere that totally gives away the fact that I have been eating them!

And then I’m caught.
And I hang my head in shame.
And then I wait for everyone to leave the room again….

Needless to say, I love these cookies. I’ve been sneaking them since I was a little girl. I want to say that they’re probably my most favorite Christmas cookie, but I’d probably say that about every cookie. So let me just say that these cookies are high on my top five list.

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Mexican Wedding Cakes
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Just a quick note…This is my mom, Marcia’s recipe. The cookies get rolled in powdered sugar after they’ve cooled down, but Marsh says that you should let them cool down completely so that the powdered sugar sticks to the cookie…almost even melts a little on the cookie. Then you roll them a second time after they have cooled completely, and the powdered sugar adheres quite nicely. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s the best cookie baker I know.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

¾ cup powdered sugar
4 cups cake flour
2 cups butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans

Extra powdered sugar for rolling.

Sift together flour and sugar. Set aside.
Cream butter and vanilla, and add flour mixture until well blended. Stir in pecans. Shape into walnut size balls. Bake for 8-10 minutes on the prepared cookie sheet.

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Before the cookies are completely cooled, but not too hot, roll in powdered sugar. Place on cooling rack, and let cool completely. After the cookies are completely cooled, roll them again in powdered sugar.

Store in an airtight container. Maybe one with a lock on it!!

Enjoy!

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Simple Snowman Cutouts

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I’m a traditional kind of girl when it comes to Christmas cookies.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional unusual concoction here and there, but for the most part, I think those unusual concoctions are for the people who are competing to come up with the most creative and unusual cookie that they hope will become the next big trend when it comes to cookies. That’s just not my bag. I’m happy with my usual traditional repertoire.

The cookies that I’ll be sharing for the next few days are the cookies that I grew up with. They are the ones that my mom, my grandmother, and my aunts made. They’re the cookies that my kids grew up with. And they’re the cookies that Katie is starting to bake at her own apartment now…and that’s exciting for both her and me. I love watching her starting her own traditions, mingled with the ones that she already knows.

I don’t know… I was back and forth, trying to decide whether to post about these cookies or not. I mean, they’re definitely “cutsie”. There is nothing cutsie about me. I don’t decorate my trees that way, I don’t decorate my house that way. But for some reason, my cutouts are always cutsie. I guess it’s from when my kids were much younger, and I just never changed them up as they got older.

But why change now?
They’re tradition.

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Cutouts fall right into the “comfort food” category, and that’s what I’m all about.  The scent of the cookies baking permeates the house; and brings back the happy times that we’ve shared throughout our lives. This time of year, I scour the shelves for new baking supplies. I love to buy the holiday sprinkles, the colored sugars, food coloring, and/or cookie cutters whether I need them or not. Christmas is my most favorite holiday of the year..truly.

Usually every year, my cutouts consist of Christmas trees, snowmen, santas, snowflakes, stars, etc…but this year, I joined a cookie swap with Pamela at Brooklyn Farm Girl and the theme was snowmen.  And…since I was running late, I decided that my cutouts would be all snowmen this year.  I did them in two hours from start to finish. Please note that they did need a few hours to sit for the frosting to set before I packed them into the container.

Speaking of Pamela… she is the most adorable little thing you’ll ever want to meet! I love her blog, her free spirit is so contagious, that you can’t help but feel happy after reading her posts.  You should visit her blog; she has some wonderful stories, and delicious recipes! Her rooftop garden in the summertime?  To die for. Seriously.

Honestly, if you’re pressed for time, these are the cookies for you.  Believe me, I’m not claiming to be the Queen of cookie decorating; I’m far from that.  But, cutsie or not, I think that these little guys can stand up proudly on a cookie plate of any kind… even with the trendy concoctions that happen to share the table.

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Now, back to the cookies… Here is what you’ll need as far as decorating tools:

Red Food Coloring
Green Food Coloring
Orange Food Coloring
Black Food Coloring
(I just went with the normal Christmas colors, but change up the colors if you’d like!)

2-1/2” diameter round cookie cutter

Wilton Tips:
#230 for the nose
#7 for the eyes, mouth, and holly berries
#3 for the plaid and dots on the hats
#46 for the hat
#22 for the fur around the hat and the poof

Disposable decorator’s bags.  They make life easy, therefore are a necessary tool in my cupboard.

Candy Holly Leaves…(But if you look closely, you can see that I used candy Christmas trees, because that’s all I had in my cupboard.  Hey, I told you I’m not the queen of cookie decorating…but they worked!)

The Cookie:
My mom will periodically throughout the year ask me to make these cookies for her. I’m always happy to oblige, in the shape of a heart, with pink frosting. She loves them.

1-½ cups sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter, shortening, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  Begin adding the flour mixture alternating with ¼ cup sour cream at a time mixing until it’s well blended until all of the flour and sour cream have been incorporated into the dough. The dough will be really sticky.

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At this point, you can divide it into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a couple of hours for ease of rolling.   I never do.  If I’m in cookie mode, then I’m going for it until they’re done.

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Divide the dough into two balls.  Using plenty of flour on your rolling surface, roll out the first ball to about 1/4 inch, and begin cutting circles of dough (dipping the cookie cutter into flour each time), placing them on a parchment paper lined large cookie sheet.  You can fit about 12 cookies at a time on the sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. This makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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The Frosting:
3 cups confectioners sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
4 tbsp milk

Combine ingredients into mixing bowl, mix on low speed until the ingredients are blended together, and then increase the speed to high for about five minutes.

The Snowman

Using a small spatula, spread plain white frosting over ¾’s of the cookie.  This is the snowman’s face.

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Using tip #46 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with red frosting, create the hat by piping stripes from the top of the face to the top of the head.  Pipe a half circle from one side of the top to the other. (See photo).

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Using tip #3 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with green frosting, pipe dots ½ of the snowmen, and pipe plaid on the other ¼ of the snowmen.

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Using tip #22 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with white frosting, create the fur around the hat by piping stars along the bottom of the hat, and then one poof at the top of the hat.

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Using tip #230 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with orange frosting, pipe a single nose onto the middle of the face.

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Using tip #7 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with black frosting, create the snowman’s face by piping dots for eyes, and five dots into a smile for his mouth.

Stick two candy holly leaves (or Christmas trees) into the fur of the hat, and using tip #7 that has been loaded into a decorator’s bag with red frosting, pipe three little holly berries in the center of the two leaves.

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The cookies are ready to go. If you are planning on layering them on top of each other, then you’ll want to let them set for about five or six hours before putting them into the container.  Use waxed paper between layers.

Enjoy!