Sweet Treats For the Holidays

The Other Fisherman has expressed his unhappiness over the lack of Christmas cookies in our house. He loves his holiday treats more than anything. I best remedy this situation right quick as we are well into the month of December and the holidays are here. If I want Santa to visit me I better be good and find the sacred recipe book of seasonal treats and get busy. Set aside some time to fill your kitchen with the smell of sugar cookies and sugar plums!

Snowball Surprise Cookies

These little white cookies look like fluffy snowballs and are flavored with almond. They have a special treat baked inside.

Ingredients

1 cup butter softened

1/3 cup sugar

4 teaspoons milk

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup finely chopped almonds

24 whole almonds, toasted, cut in half

Coating for outside of cookie

8 ounces vanilla candy coating (almond bark)

1 tablespoon shortening

Roll cookies in ½ cup white jimmies or sprinkles.

Directions

Heat oven to 325° F.

Combine butter, sugar, milk and almond extract in bowl; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Stir in flour and finely chopped almonds.

Shape 2 teaspoons dough around 1 almond half. Place 1-inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 13-15 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Place almond bark and shortening into bowl. Microwave 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving, stirring every 15 seconds, until mixture is melted and smooth.

Place jimmies in shallow bowl.

Dip each cookie in almond bark (do not coat bottom); immediately dip top into jimmies.

Let stand until coating is set.

* A maraschino cherry is a colorful option to bake inside rather than an almond half.

* Sweetened flaked coconut would be a tasty alternative coating rather than sprinkles.

Chai Spiced Birch Bark Cookie Logs

What would a holiday cookie tray be without a spice cookie and what better flavor than chai? The smell of these spiced cookies baking in the oven will fill your home with happy memories of gingerbread.

Ingredients

Cookie

1 cup butter softened

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons instant unsweetened tea powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice *

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Topping

6 ounces vanilla-flavored candy coating (almond bark), chopped

Drizzle

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ teaspoon vegetable oil

No pumpkin pie spice? Make your own! Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.

Directions

Heat oven to 350° F.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add all remaining cookie ingredients. Beat until well mixed. (Mixture will be crumbly.)

Divide mixture into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into 12-inch rope on lightly floured surface. Cut rope into 2-inch logs. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 11-15 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets. Cool 15 minutes.

Place candy coating in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted and smooth. Frost tops and sides of logs; place onto waxed paper. Let stand until set.

Place chocolate chips and oil in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Dip fork into melted chocolate, drizzling chocolate crosswise over logs in thick and thin lines, randomly placed to look like natural birch bark.

Let cookies stand until set.

Stuckey’s Caramel Nut Logs

This candy log is sweet and salty, chewy and very addicting.

Remember the interstate restaurant chain, Stuckey’s? My husband’s family drove from Wisconsin to Florida to visit family for their vacation many years when his uncle was in the Coast Guard. Dad Robl always purchased several nut logs to enjoy as he had quite the sweet tooth, which he passed on to all his kids!

Ingredients for filling:

½ cup butter

1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow crème

4 ½ to 5 cups powdered sugar

Coating

1 (11-ounce) package caramels, unwrapped

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons half &half

2 cups chopped salted peanuts, cashews or pecans

Directions:

Combine ½ cup butter and marshmallow crème in bowl. Microwave, stirring once, 1½-2 ½ minutes or until melted. Stir until well mixed. Stir in 4½ cups powdered sugar; mix well. Place onto surface lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar; knead in up to ½ cup additional powdered sugar with hands until mixture is firm and no longer shiny.

Divide mixture into 6 equal parts. Shape each into 5×1-inch log; wrap in plastic food wrap. Place logs onto ungreased baking sheet. Freeze at least 2 hours or overnight until firm.

Line another baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. Place chopped nuts on another sheet of waxed paper. Set aside.

Place caramels, 2 tablespoons butter and half &half in 2-quart wide, shallow saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until caramels are melted and smooth. Reduce heat to low to keep caramel mixture warm.

Remove one log from the freezer at a time; unwrap. Dip 1 log into warm caramel mixture with tongs or two-pronged meat fork. Turn to coat; allow excess caramel mixture to drip back into pan.

Place caramel-coated log on nut-covered waxed paper. Lifting waxed paper, roll log to coat with nuts. (Use hands to press nuts into log, if necessary.) Set log onto waxed paper-lined baking sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining logs. Refrigerate 1 hour; wrap each log in plastic food wrap. Store refrigerated.

To serve, cut each log into 12 slices; place each into foil candy cup.

I try to make a new-to-our-family goodie each year and hope these recipes inspire you to try something new as well.

It is time to be in the kitchen enjoying baking and candy making fun! Grab the kids, your best pal or even the dog to join you.

Put on some Christmas music, don your favorite apron and celebrate the season making these special treats.

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