Monday, December 12, 2022

Christmas Cookie Box

I have been busy busy busy this year baking up a storm! I have loved making some of my favorite tried and true recipes and trying out new ones this year. I was inspired by Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest to make a Christmas cookie box (well mine is more of a tray) this year. It is such a fun idea and I plan to do a variation every year. I even used one of Tieghan's new-to-me recipes and they are AMAZING (Christmas Monster Cookies), highly recommend giving them a try. I have/plan to bring a tray of these varieties to all my holiday gatherings this year. So far, the spreads have been a hit! I have included recipes below. The only recipe I didn't include are my classic sugar cookies, but I have several other posts about them if you are interested. By far, the hardest to make were the mini gingerbread mug huggers. They were fun, but a LOT of work. I do love how they turned out though! You can buy them on Uncommon Goods, but they are currently sold out. More below.

Russian tea cakes

1 cup butter softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients. You might need to mix it with your hands at the end to help it come together. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over-bake. Roll in powdered sugar when warm. 

For the snowmen I pushed two of the tea cakes together before baking. Once cooled I dipped them in royal icing. Make sure the royal icing is on the thinner side (more of a flood consistency if you are familiar with cookie decorating). I added a gummy for the nose. I melted some dark chocolate and piped the details on. 

Peppermint Pretzels

I used the extra dark chocolate leftover from the snowmen and drizzled it some pretzels and added some crushed peppermint!

Pretzel Kisses

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Lay out pretzels on baking sheet and place one Hershey's kiss or Rolo on top of each. Put in oven for 5-6 minutes. Place m&m on top right when they come out of the oven. Let cool. I used Rolos this time because I love the caramel addition, but you could also use dark chocolate kisses, peppermint kisses, or any kind you like!

Buckeyes/Peanut Butter Balls

2 cups peanut butter (I usually only use creamy but this year I made half of the batch with creamy and half with crunchy - my husband's favorite)

1/2 cup butter softened

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/4 tsp. vanilla

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) dark chocolate (melting chocolate or chips)

Mix all ingredients and roll into balls. Freeze 15-20 minutes. Dip and let harden. Use a toothpick to dip them more easily, then you can smooth over the hole after it hardens.  I like to store them in the refrigerator, but it is not required. 

Shortbread Sandwiches

3 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 - 1 cup of your favorite jam/jelly 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar and add vanilla. Add flour slowly. Sometimes it is easiest to mix with your hands at the end to help it come together. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate (optional, but makes it easier to roll out). Roll out the dough and cut any size scalloped circles. In half of the circles, cut out a mini tree. Bake for 12 minutes. Once cooled, add jelly or jam and create sandwiches. Dust with powdered sugar.  I made larger versions of these in the summer with stars (can be found here) and this time I did tree cutouts, but you could do any shape you want! 

Christmas Monster Cookies: Half Baked Harvest

1 cup butter softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

1 tbsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups oats

1 1/4 cups m&ms (set aside the 1/4 for topping)

1 cup crushed mini pretzel sticks

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add oats and fold in chocolate chips, pretzels, and m&ms. Use scooper to make large )1/4 cup) balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Rotate them in oven then bake 2 more minutes. Take out and press remaining m&ms on top. Bake 2-3 more minutes. Best served warm! 

*I love these cookies super fresh so I freeze them after they cool and then take one out and let it thaw whenever I want one. I find oatmeal cookies can sometimes get stale quickly and this helps! Also be careful not to over-bake them!

Mini Gingerbread Houses

3 cups flours

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

6 tbsp. butter softened

3/4 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 tsp. vanilla

1-3 tsp, milk as needed (only add a small amount at a time - see below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, salt, spices. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add egg, beat slowly. Add molasses. Slowly mix in flour. If it is too dry, add milk slowly until it comes together. You don't want the dough to be too sticky. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. I made some regular cut outs, but also use this cookie cutter to create all the pieces to assemble a mini gingerbread house mug hugger. Bake for 8 minutes.

I used royal icing to decorate and assemble the houses. I highly recommend decorating each piece and letting them dry before assembling the house. Use a thicker royal icing for the "glue" when assembling. I use this tiny tip to decorate or just snip off a tiny bit at the end of a plastic bag.

Happy Holidays!


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