The Other Fisherman loves Christmas. It’s his favorite time of year, right up there with moose hunting season and fishing for king salmon in the summer. His dad was Father Christmas, and the OF’s brother also lives for this time of year, after golf season.
Both brothers decorate, shop ’til they drop and bake cookies. They enjoy hosting holiday parties and putting up thousands of outdoor lights, (think about the movie Christmas vacation and you’ll get an idea of the festive gene pool that runs in this family.) Their Christmas shopping puts most of us ladies on a shopping spree to shame.
I had no idea what a Santa I married until our first Christmas together. There was a huge, real tree decorated with the most beautiful ornaments with so many gifts for me under it I was embarrassed. And the cookies and candies, more than I ever imagined — no less than 15 different kinds. Here we are 39 years later, still making a big deal at Christmas and loving every minute of it as hectic, fattening, fun, expensive and memorable as it may be.
If I had one cookie to share with all the world this time of year, it would be my Gramma’s pecan fingers. The Other Fisherman’s vote is for peanut butter balls. He wanted me to share both recipes with you, even though many of you already make and enjoy them. I might not get all the treats I’d like made, but assuredly we will have our special favorites.
Gramma’s Pecan Fingers
• 1 cup soft butter
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups pecans chopped very fine (I use hickory nuts from Wisconsin)
• Pinch of salt
Beat butter and powdered sugar and vanilla together. Stir in flour, pecans and salt. Mix well, cover and chill overnight for flavors to develop if possible.
To bake, pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
On ungreased baking sheet place cookies that have been rolled into a shape and length of a finger, approximately two inches long and 3Ž4 inch wide. Cookies will not spread much while baking, so it’s fine to place them close together.
Bake about 15 minutes, watching closely. You will want them to be barely golden brown on the bottom. When cookies are done, remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
Add powdered sugar to a shallow wide bowl. While still warm, but not hot from the oven, carefully roll generously in powdered sugar, handle cookies gently as they are delicate, then set on rack to cool.
Peanut Butter Balls
Peanut butter, chocolate, a little crunch and just the right size make them irresistable.
• 2 cups graham cracker crushed fine, or graham cracker crumbs
• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 2 cups regular peanut butter, not the kind the oil and peanut butter separate and you stir to combine
• 1/2 cup melted butter
Combine the above ingredients and roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Set on wax paper or parchment paper lined cookie sheets and freeze.
Melt 16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips (bittersweet chocolate) with 16 ounces of milk chocolate chips in the microwave stirring every minute or so or melt chocolate in a double boiler.
Dip balls in chocolate to coat well. I use two spoons to roll the balls around in the chocolate. Place back on lined cookie sheet and set candies where it is cool or in the refrigerator to cool and set up.
Old Fashioned Ginger Molasses Cookies
A good molasses cookie is hard to beat. They go perfectly with a cup of something warm or cold glass of milk. .
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
• 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup mild-flavored (light) or robust-flavored (dark) molasses
• 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
• Coarse sanding or raw sugar (for rolling)
Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F.
Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom clove and salt in a small bowl.
Whisk egg, butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
Mix in dry ingredients just to combine.
Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls (if dough is sticky, chill 20 minutes). Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (over-baked cookies won’t be chewy), 8–10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.
MAKE AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made and rolled into balls 2 weeks ahead. Freeze on a baking sheet; transfer to resealable plastic bags. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling in sugar.
I hope you find inspiration from these traditional recipes I enjoyed sharing with you. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!