We may not attend as many get-togethers this season, or have as much money for gifts, but here’s the good news: We don’t need to compromise safety or spend a lot of dough — at least the financial kind — to spread holiday cheer.
Why not share some delicious holiday treats with the special people on your gift list? These cookies, provided by some of the Coast’s best bakers, are sure to put a sparkle in your loved ones’ eyes. Don’t forget to leave some out for Santa!
SHORTBREAD COOKIES AND ROYAL ICING
Submitted by Brooke Rester, owner of Dolce Bakeshop, which has been a popular sweet spot in downtown Long Beach for nearly four years.
“I chose to share this recipe because this is the recipe that we share with our students who take our cookie-decorating classes,” Rester says. “Plus, our decorated cookies are the most popular at Christmastime.”
- One pound of unsalted butter, room temperature
- One cup of granulated sugar
- One teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed together until fluffy and pale in color. Add vanilla.
• With mixer on low, slowly add in flour. Only mix until incorporated; do not overmix. If dough feels soft and sticky, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
• Roll dough out onto lightly floured surface to one-fourth-inch thick. Stamp out shapes using your favorite cookie cutters and place onto parchment-lined pan.
• Chill again for 20 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center is cooked through. Once cooled, decorate with royal icing or any icing of your choice.
- Four tablespoons meringue powder
- 1/2 cup water
- Four cups powdered sugar
- Flavoring of your choice
• Mix meringue powder and water until frothy. Slowly add in powdered sugar.
• Beat on high for about five minutes. Use this consistency for piping and decorating. You may also add more water a little at a time to make a thinner consistency to use for filling in larger designs.
Submitted by Jennifer Noble, owner of Cheeky Monkey Cake Company — a family-owned Biloxi bakery known for wedding cakes, specialty cakes and all kinds of baked goods.
“I chose this recipe as it is a classic gingerbread recipe and one that is very popular in my own family,” Noble says. “It reminds me of walking home from school as a child and stopping by the hometown bakery on the way to my grandmother’s, and we would have warm gingerbread and milk after school.”
- 12 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup (159g) brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup (255g) molasses
- One teaspoon salt
- Two teaspoons cinnamon
- Two teaspoons ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
- One large egg
- One teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 3/4 cups (447g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
• In a saucepan set over low heat, or in the microwave, melt butter, then stir in the brown sugar, molasses, salt and spices.
• Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, let it cool to lukewarm and beat in the egg.
• Whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, then stir the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture. The dough will be very soft and sticky, but don’t be tempted to add more flour; it’ll firm up once it’s chilled.
• Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a thick rectangle. Wrap well and refrigerate for an hour or longer. The dough may be sticky and hard to roll if not thoroughly chilled, so make sure it’s cold before continuing.
• Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out several baking sheets and line with parchment paper.
• Once the dough has chilled, take one piece of dough from the refrigerator and flour a clean work surface. Roll the dough one-eighth- to one-fourth-inch thick; the thinner the dough, the crispier the cookies. Flour both the top and bottom of the dough if it starts to stick. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap over it as you roll, pulling the plastic to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.
• Cut out shapes with a floured cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible to minimize waste.
• Transfer the cookies to the parchment-lined cookie sheets (or, if you’ve rolled right onto the parchment, remove the dough scraps between the cookies). Bake the cookies until they’re slightly brown around the edges, eight to 12 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
• Decorate the cookies with a royal icing if desired, or just enjoy as they are.
MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIE
Submitted by Renee Loranger, an experienced master pastry chef and cake designer. The Bay St. Louis-based baker recently competed on the Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship.”
“This is my favorite cookie for the holidays,” she says. “It melts in your mouth. Super popular, everyone really seems to love them. It is also a really easy recipe with only five ingredients, so it comes together really fast.”
- 16 ounces shortening
- Eight ounces powdered sugar — more for finishing
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 14 ounces cake flour
- 10 ounces pecans
• Cream the shortening, salt, and powdered sugar together; scrape the bowl.
• Add the flour and mix just till it comes together. Add pecans, and fold in
• Scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet
• Bake at 350 degrees for eight to 10 minutes, just until slightly golden on the bottom edges and the top is not shiny.
• Let cool, roll in powdered sugar and enjoy!