Extraordinary Christmas Treats
If you've read any of my food features on this web site - and I hope you have - you have noticed that I like unusual subjects and/or recipes. On the other hand, I'm a traditionalist at heart, especially at Christmas. I solve this conflict by enjoying the usual treats, and finding one or two new ones to keep things interesting.
Are you looking for different cookies this year? Well, throw caution to the wind and try a few of these recipes. Also, you might want to check out my article from last year, Swede Christmas Cookies, for a few more ideas.
Margarita fans, enjoy!
Add approximately 1 cup of pretzels to food processor and process until they resemble fine crumbs. This amount should make ½ cup crumbs.
In a large bowl, combine wafer crumbs, pretzel crumbs, confectioners' sugar, margarita concentrate, and cream cheese. Add tequila and Triple Sec. Stir until blended. Divide mixture in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and set aside.
Combine half of the grated lime rind with green decorator sugar and the other half with granulated sugar in small bowls. Stir to make sure the rind is evenly distributed.
Remove 1 portion of the dough from plastic wrap and shape into 1-inch balls. Roll each in either green or white sugar. Work quickly so the dough doesn't dry out.
Repeat with other dough portion. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes about 7 dozen pieces.
Note: You can make a non-alcoholic version, if you prefer. Just substitute frozen limeade concentrate for the frozen margarita concentrate, and omit the tequila and Triple Sec.
Cochinitos ("Little Pigs") CookiesThese are a favorite in many Mexican bakeries. If you - or your child or grandchild - is a Piglet fan (of Winnie the Pooh fame), you'll love these. You'll need a pig-shaped cookie cutter.
Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cloves, and pepper into a bowl. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the sour cream, egg, honey, molasses, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix again until well combined. The dough should be fairly moist.
Refrigerate the dough, covered, for at least one hour and preferably two. Dust a countertop or pastry board lightly with flour. Roll the dough out to about 1/3-inch thickness and cut cookies with a pig-shaped cookie cutter. If you can't find one, you can make the cookies in any shape you desire, but technically they will no longer be cochinitos. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, spacing them 1-1/2 inches apart.
To make the glaze, combine the egg white and water in a small bowl. Brush the cookies lightly with the glaze.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Don't overbake; Cochinitos should be soft and chewy. Cool the cookies for about 5 minutes and then transfer them to paper towels to finish cooling. Covered, they keep several days. Makes about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.
Raspberry PillowsIf you have ever made your own ravioli, these cookies should bring back memories.
Combine flour, soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion of dough between two sheets of waxed paper to a 12-inch square. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Remove one portion of dough from refrigerator. Remove top piece of wax paper and cut dough into 1-1/2-inch squares. Place 1/4 teaspoon of the preserves in center of half of the squares. Brush edges of filled squares with water. Place unfilled squares over filled squares; press edges to seal. Cut an "X" on the top of each square. Repeat with remaining dough and preserves.
Place cookies on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350F degrees for 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets about 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Makes 64 cookies.
Poor Man's TrufflesTechnically, these are cookies - not real truffles - but if you're a chocoholic like me, who cares? Besides, you mix them in a pan - not a mixing bowl. Quick and easy!
When cool enough to handle, drop dough by slightly rounded teaspoonfuls 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 325F degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are firm and surfaces are dull. Do not overbake. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. If desired, sift cocoa powder or confectioners' sugar over the cookies before serving. Makes 4 dozen.
Happy holidays and happy eating!
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