Christmas Cookies

Cardamom Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Makes: 4 dozen
1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2  teaspoon Ground Cardamom
1/2  teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
2 Tablespoons Butter, RT
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat butter and sugars until light and creamy. Stir in egg and vanilla. 
Sift together dry ingredients and stir into butter-sugar mix. 
Shape into 1 inch balls, place on baking sheet and flatten.
Bake 14 minutes.  Remove from oven. Cool completely.  
Beat together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  Frost cookies. 
Store in an airtight container.
Enjoy.

Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookies

Makes: 5 dozen
1 cup butter

1 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring
1/2  teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cocoa
2 1/2 cups flour
White melting wafers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Stir in egg, coloring and vanilla.
Mix together dry ingredients and stir into butter-sugar mix.
Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet.
Bake 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately top with melting wafer.
Cool.  Store in an airtight container.
Enjoy.

Almond Meringue Cookies

Makes: 3 dozen
4 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl until stiff peaks form.  Gradually fold in powdered sugar until light and creamy. Stir in salt, vanilla and flour.
Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet.
Bake 12 minutes.  Remove from oven.
Cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Microwave Candy – English Toffee and Peanut Brittle

With three boys living out-of-state, I have started making my holiday treats a little early this year. Candy and Cookies really make Christmas tasty. And, I know they will appreciate receiving a box with some holiday treats.

Growing up, my mother and grandmother taught me how to make candy. I continue to do so as an adult with my own children. However, the recipes that I was taught were – lets face it – a pain in the butt.  They were messy and required lots of attention to time and temperature.

Last year, I came across a recipe for Microwave Toffee and gave it a try.  Wow, the recipe was super simple, made little mess, required no candy thermometer and tasted great. So, I started my holiday baking by making that recipe again this year.

Microwave English Toffee

Makes: approximately 2 pounds
Calories: TMTC

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Light Karo Syrup
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In an eight-cup mixing bowl, microwave the butter and sugar on high for 1 minute.
     Note: you really do need this size bowl – the mixture bubbles a lot!
Remove the bowl from microwave and stir to blend. Add syrup and stir again.
Return the bowl to the microwave and cook on high until the color turns the color of a brown paper bag (approximately 8-10 minutes).
While cooking, measure out the baking soda and 1/2 cup of nuts.  Also line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the mix from the microwave.  Quickly stir in the  baking soda and nuts (be careful not to over stir or your candy will start to setup too quickly).
Spread the candy mix over the parchment paper in the pan.
Wait 1 minute and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the mix.
Wait another minute, then spread the chocolate.  Sprinkle with the remaining almonds.
Cool.  Break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container.
Enjoy.

I cannot remember where I say the toffee recipe.  But, there are now many sources on the internet. Having found the toffee easy to make, I sought out a recipe for making peanut brittle the same way.  King Arthur Flour has a really nice recipe that I tried and was equally surprised with the outcome.

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Makes: approximately 2 pounds
Calories: TMTC

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Light Karo Syrup
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Vanilla extract

In an eight-cup mixing bowl, mix the sugar and syrup until combined.
Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from microwave and stir in the peanuts and butter.
Return the bowl to the microwave and cook on high until caramel colored (approximately 4 minutes).
While cooking, measure out the baking soda and vanilla.  Also line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the mix from the microwave.  Quickly stir in the  baking soda and vanilla.
Spread the candy mix over the parchment paper in the pan.
Cool.  Break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container.
Enjoy.