Cookie Making Weekend

Every year we complain about how much work it is, and every year Ellen and I make them anyway: Christmas cookies on the weekend before the holiday. We made four kinds this year, beginning with Mocha Nut balls, above. Ellen made the dough with the key ingredients being cocoa powder, chopped pecans and freeze-dried instant coffee. Recipes for these, the Butterballs, and Mrs. Field’s Gingerbread are on THIS cookie post on my blog from 2008. The one new recipe we tried is below.

While Ellen worked on the Mocha Nut, I made the dough for Butterballs, from my Mom’s recipe in the Klein family cookbook I put together many years ago. The key ingredients are butter (as you might guess) and chopped walnuts. The above two ball cookies are easy to make, and complement each other well, the Yin and Yang of spherical cookies.

Ellen’s now working on rolling the Butterballs. She’s much better at getting them small enough and a consistent size.

After they were baked, I garnished both with powdered sugar, though the Butterballs are rolled in it while warm, forming a sort of snowy icing, while the Mocha Nuts just have the tops dipped after completely cool. Ellen doesn’t like too much sugar on them.

Here’s the finished batches.

This year’s new recipe was for Chocolate-Raspberry Crumb Bars, a recipe by Carole Zwycewicz that was in our local paper. The bottom layer is very similar to shortbread, then a chocolate sauce goes over that…

…and it’s topped with more chocolate (chips) and dollops of raspberry jam and more dough.

After baking we cut it into small squares. I liked them better than Ellen, she didn’t think it tasted chocolaty enough, so I doubt we’ll make them again, but at least they were easy. Those three batches were all made Saturday.

On Sunday Ellen did most of the work on the more time-consuming and somewhat difficult Gingerbread shaped cookies, making the dough, chilling it, rolling and cutting shapes.

Here’s a tray being filled to go into the oven.

My part with these is helping with the decorating after they’re baked and cooled. Usually I make batches of colored icing (as seen in the 2008 post), but this year when prepared to do that I found we had no food coloring at all. We’d brought ours up to Ann’s last Christmas and forgotten to get more. So, we just used the white icing and colored it with sugar crystals and candies. Worked fine.

I was still able to get some reasonably artistic results, I think.

Here’s how the cookies are dispensed: Ellen brings some to work, we bring some to each of our families when we go north for Christmas, and we keep a small batch here for ourselves. There’ll be more cookie making at Ellen’s sister Ann’s later in the week, too, so we’ll bring home a sampling of those. Christmas cookies, try some, you’ll like them!

Here’s the recipe for the bars.


1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided evenly
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer (or by hand with a fork) beat butter in large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar and salt until crumbly. Press 1 and 3/4 cups of mixture into bottom of greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan, save remaining mixture. Bake until edges are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. While bars bake, combine 1 cup chocolate chips with condensed milk in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until smooth. Pour sauce over baked mixture. Sprinkle remaining chips and small dollops of preserves and remaining mixture over top. Return to over and continue baking until center is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into small bars or squares.

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