Meet the cookie monsters of North Forty News

PHOTO BY SALLY ROTH Super easy to make, super hard to resist—Christmas Crack is made on a base of saltines.

Our North Forty News staffers love cookies! We seem to gravitate toward holiday cookies that are quick and easy to make (as well as delicious, of course!), although we also have a soft spot for classic decorated cut-outs. Still, we all know that it’s the memories and the sharing that make these treats so special.

Here’s what we’re hoping to indulge in this holiday season. How about you?


I Ate Santa’s Head

by Gary Raham

Christmas cookies! Who can resist them—especially when fashioned in shapes appropriate to the holidays, like bells, Santa Clauses and Christmas trees? Sugar cookies cut into these shapes became my opportunity to splash colored frosting in all the right places. I nipped off Santa’s head—hoping he wouldn’t take offense—and waited for him to sneak in the house somehow (we had no chimney) and place the objects of my desire beneath a well-decorated tree. I reveled in the smells of a Christmas kitchen and anticipated daily attacks on hand-frosted sugar cookies.

 


Mix, Dump, Spread… Voilà!

by Libby James

Blonde Brownies are my favorite cookie because they are quick to make, are closely related to chocolate chip cookies, and can be dumped onto a cookie sheet and spread around rather than dropped one at a time! To produce them, melt 2/3 C. butter, add 2 1/4 C. brown sugar, then 3 eggs one at a time. Beat. Add 2 2/3 C. flour, 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 C. chocolate chips and 1 C. chopped nuts. Spread onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350°.

 


For That Christmas Pony

by Marty Metzger

Naming my favorite Christmas cookie is like asking a millionaire to name his favorite dollar! One bestie is Pfeffernusse, spicy German wonders rolled in powdered sugar. However, my heart belongs to Oatmeal Horse Cookies. Not doughy horse cut-out cookies, but cookies made for horses.

A horse lover since age two, I rode by 14, then trained, showed and eventually rescued horses from slaughter. If it’s equine—pony, horse, donkey, mule—it’s wonderful… and deserving of treats universally called Horse Cookies.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMBER HERRELL
Marty Metzger and Nilla

Marty’s Oatmeal Horse Cookies

A treat for every horse—and fun for every horse lover!    

2 C. dry oatmeal
3/4 C. grain
3 C. bran
1 C. molasses

Combine dry ingredients in a bucket. Mix by hand while drizzling molasses, until a bit thinner than Play-Doh. Place by half-handfuls on cookie sheet, or spread mixture in greased pan for bars. Bake at 375° for only 10 minutes. These burn easily but store well.

 

 

 


“I’ll Never Be Clara” Tamales

by Theresa Rose

My best memory of Christmas cookies doesn’t come from my childhood but from the beautiful little boxes from my husband’s grandmother. Approaching the last years of her independence before moving into assisted living, she managed to create, package and mail out lovely wrapped boxes of perfectly shaped little gems, each kind carefully separated by sheets of tissue paper. Rum Balls, each exactly the same size and issuing a slightly sinful aroma, were the first to be devoured as soon as the box was opened. Russian Tea Cakes exploded into a velvety powder with the first bite. Divinity candies almost floated away by themselves, packaged, of course, on the very top. Thumbprint cookies cradled a little dollop of homemade frosting. Date bars, never a favorite, were on the bottom row and always the last to go. But disappear they did, and the pretty little box was usually empty by Christmas Eve. Clara gave up many of her cherished activities when she left her South Dakota farmhouse, but the memory still lingers. My efforts to carry on the tradition fell flat. I would never be Clara.

My own Christmas tradition consists of dozens of homemade tamales, frozen and ready for the pressure cooker whenever guests arrive. My beautiful, brilliant and talented daughter can’t keep a house to save her life and hasn’t seen the bottom of the kitchen sink since she first moved into her apartment. Christmas treats seem a long way off. But she’s young yet and very much her own person. Maybe she’ll invent something that doesn’t have anything to do with food. I’m waiting.


Sweet Tooth? Who, Me?

by Blaine Howerton

Favorite cookie? I don’t have one. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE THEM ALL. Especially the soft and chewy chocolate ones (big chunks only, please!). I joke with my kids (not really joking) that I get half of all of their cookies. I take pride in collecting cookie tax for the cookie monster.

If I had to stray away from a cookie, I would say fudge is my second favorite treat. That is, if the ingredients don’t get eaten first. During the holidays I find myself hiding in the pantry, with the door closed, eating marshmallows first and then chocolate chips second.


Freeze, Please!

by Matt Bartmann

I’m a picky eater. I’m stuck with that reputation forever, even though my tastes have changed. Still, there are still certain things that I just don’t like. “What? You don’t eat mushrooms? That’s just weird.”

I love cookies. But keep ’em simple. Oatmeal cookies? One of my favorites! No raisins for me, though. Peanut butter cookies? Yum! Made with creamy peanut butter, not chunky. Chocolate chip cookies? Yay! Plain, of course: no nuts. And serving temperature is vital, when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. They should be chilled. Frozen, in fact. Out of the oven, into the freezer. Eating warm cookies with gooey melted chocolate? That’s just weird.

 


Memories of a Classic

by Mark Moody

My favorite holiday cookie was the simple sugar variety cut into Christmas shapes like trees, reindeer, and of course Santa. We would then use brightly colored frosting and decorate them adding sprinkles, etc. The cookie cutters themselves were antique, and probably not particularly safe, but they were clearly a vital part of our holiday tradition. We munched on these edible decorations, arranged on bright red and green plates, through the New Year.

 



Uh-Oh, I Ate It All Myself

by Sally Roth

Maybe it was the name. Maybe it was thinking that no treat made with a base of cheap saltines could be good enough for gifts. For whatever reason, it took me way longer to try making Christmas Crack than it should have. Oh. My. Gosh. That name is well deserved: Out of three full cookie sheets I made last Christmas, only a few small ziplock bags of it ever made it to giftees: The rest went in my belly. This year, I’ll be making it the day before I have to mail gifts. Although I do feel guilty (not very much) that far-flung friends and family will be instantly addicted, too.

 

PHOTO BY SALLY ROTH
Super easy to make, super hard to resist—Christmas Crack is made on a base of saltines.

Christmas Crack

Easiest recipe ever! Sweet, salty, chocolatey, nutty—don’t say we didn’t warn you. Better make two batches…

1 sleeve of saltine crackers (about 40 crackers)
1 C. butter
1 C. light brown sugar
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 C. coarsely chopped pecans.

Lay saltines side by side, as close together as you can, on a nonstick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a large saucepan; bring to a boil, and boil 3 minutes. Pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. Return the sheet to oven for about 30 seconds to finish melting the chocolate chips. If you need to even out the chocolate, gently spread it with a butter knife or flat spatula. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer to harden, then break into pieces.

 

5-Minute Rugelach

Doughnuts are the traditional Hanukkah treat, but spirals of fruity, nutty rugelach are always welcome! Save time by using refrigerated pie crust instead of making the traditional pastry from scratch—we won’t tell. As long as you share with us, that is.

1 refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 C. chopped walnuts
2 T. apricot or raspberry jam
3 T. whipped cream cheese

Line cookie sheet with parchment or foil. Combine sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and jam in a bowl. Unfold the crust onto a very lightly floured surface. Spread the cream cheese over the dough, then sprinkle and gently spread the walnut/jam mixture over it. For crescent-roll type rugelach, slice the circle into 16 wedges with a pizza cutter, then roll up each wedge, starting at the outside end of the triangle. For jelly-roll style rugelach, roll up the circle of dough and filling into a log, and slice the log into 3/4” pieces. Either way, place the pieces 2” apart, and bake at 375° for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

 

PHOTO BY SALLY ROTH
A single bite of scrumptiousness, these cookies can be called Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, or—if you use almonds instead of pecans—Italian wedding cookies.

Russian Tea Cakes/
Mexican Wedding Cakes

Mexican? Russian? No one really knows. And if you use almonds instead of pecans, they’re Italian wedding cookies. Whatever you call ’em, these easy-to-make cookies melt in your mouth.

1 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. powdered sugar, plus more (about 1/2 C.) for coating cookies later
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1 C. ground pecans

Beat butter in large bowl with an electric mixer (electric hand mixer is fine) until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 C. powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then the ground nuts. Divide dough in half; wrap in plastic wrap and chill until cold. Then roll dough into 1” balls, and place on ungreased baking sheet about 1/2” apart. Bake at 400° until set but not browned, about 8 to 9 minutes. Gently roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Set on wire rack until completely cool, then sift powdered sugar over them again. (Mix the powdered sugar with 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, if you like, before coating cookies.)

 

North Forty News would love to hear about your holiday favorites, too! Leave us a comment here, or comment on Facebook, so we can drool along with you. Oh, and if you want to see more about these cookie-loving North Forty News folks, just go to http://northforty.news/staff

 

 

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