Christmas Cookies… 6 weeks late!

In the spirit of the season I forgot to make my blog entries for the Christmas cooking and baking, and this year was a big one!
So, it’s February 3rd, and here’s my Christmas blog entry. ūüôā

Cookies, Christmas 2012:

  • Rainbow Cookies (7 layer) – old family recipe
  • Pignoli Cookies – new family recipe
  • Gingerbread Cookies (with a twist)
  • PB&J Thumbprints
  • Sugar-Free Spice Cookies

Seven Layer cookies in progress:



sevenlayer sevenlayersfridge7layercuttingspignoli

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

The¬†gingerbread¬†cookie recipe was from another¬†blog, and is actually a modified version of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but it didn’t work at all! The recipe said it was for chewy¬†gingerbread¬†men, which I wanted to make so that the Geremias could decorate them on the Eve, but the dough was so soft, that even after time in the freezer the dough couldn’t be cut into little men. I made drop cookies instead, rolling them into little balls and smashing them into circles with the bottom of a floured glass, and they tasted great and were chewy. We iced them on the Eve and they were delicious.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Royal Icing¬†for decorating


  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With food processor running, add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.
  • My variations to account for too-soft dough:¬†Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator at least two hours (or overnight) or place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm.
  • Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Roll into small teaspoon-sized balls, ¬†place on prepared baking sheets spacing cookies 1 inch apart,¬†¬†and flatten with the bottom of a floured glass. Bake until centers are just set and¬†dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes. Rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 2 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Decorate as desired… we used Betty Crocker cookie icing, which dries fast and is great for a group project.

gingrebreadmassacre gingerbreaduncooked gingrebreadbaked

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumprints (minus the thumbs) – Martha Stewart’s recipe

Chris and Carolyn liked these after they shared a tin with the¬†gingerbread¬†cookies. Out of the oven they were too crunchy and crumbly, but after sharing a tin or zip bag with chewy cookies, they softened and everyone liked them better. I didn’t change anything in her recipe, so use the link above.


Splenda Spice Cookies

6 tbsp crisco vegetable shortening
6 tbsp butter
1 cup granulated splenda
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Mix shortening, butter, splenda, egg, molasses in large mixing bowl
2. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture. Mix thoroughly.
3. Chill dough in refriderator until firm (2 hours)
4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
5. Form dough into 30 balls, approx 1 level tablespoon each. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and pat down gently with fork making a criscross pattern.
6. Bake cookies in the center of the preheated 350 F oven for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies will look chewy when they come out but will become crisp. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 30 cookies. 1 cookie = 2g sugar, 80 calories.



Pumpkin Spice Cake

Mom asked me to make this for Thanksgiving. She had found the recipe in an old issue of Everyday Food. Her suggestion was to make it without the icing and just put powdered sugar on top, and it was perfect. It makes a delicious spice cake with a hint of pumpkin, more for moisture. It’s a moist cake, just delicious! [this is the photo from the website, I forgot to take a picture before it was all gone!]Image

Instead of using pumpkin pie spice I used the individual spices as listed. I also didn’t melt the butter! I didn’t notice that part, and just used the mixer to blend it at room temp with the sugar. I used a square stoneware baking dish (mine may be 8×8 instead of 9×9, I’m not sure).

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree [I used Libby]
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined [I put all of the ingredients into a mixer, forgot to melt the butter]. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.

  3. Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, about 45 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

The original recipe can be found here.


Chewy Spice Cookies

My favorite cookie. These are soooooo delicious and spicy… and easy.
I used the recipe from Cooks Illustrated and followed it almost to the letter…almost.
My changes were to use light brown sugar instead of dark brown, and I used blackstrap molasses since that’s what I had in the pantry. It made 40 cookies and the baking times were spot on.


1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for dipping
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses (about 6 ounces), light or dark
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in 8- or 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
  3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.
  4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
  5. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days.)