Christmas cookies

Fruit Roll Cookies

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Our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but we do celebrate cookies, which are as ubiquitous during the Christmas season as doughnuts during Hanukkah and matzo balls during Passover.

Every December I make a load of cookies. I give most of them away as gifts, but of course, keep (in the freezer) a container or two of family favorites for us.

Depending on how much time I have, I make these oldies but goodies: Fannies, Grand Finale cookies, Dutch butter-almond cookies, peanut butter cookies, lemon bars, cheesecake cookies, Chinese cookies and Orange Marmalade cookies.

Last year I added these Fruit Roll cookies, based on my mother’s wonderful “frozen dough” nut roll. They were a big hit, so I’m going to make them again this year.

Fruit Roll Cookies

Dough:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 pound butter, cut into chunks

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

Filling:

  • 2 cups mixed diced dried or candied fruit (such as cherries, pineapple, orange peel, cranberries, apricots, dates, figs

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup orange marmalade

To make the dough: place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and beat at low speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is crumbly (you may also do this by hand or using the pulse feature of a food processor). Add the sour cream and mix it in to make a smooth, uniform and slightly sticky dough. Dust the dough with flour, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To make the filling: Place the dried fruit, raisins, nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the marmalade and mix it in to coat all the fruit.

To assemble: Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cut the dough into 5 pieces. Working separately with each piece of dough, roll the dough on a floured surface to a rectangle about 12-inches by 6-inches. Place 1/5 of the filling on each rectangle, forming the mixture into a strip along one of the long sides and to within 1/2-inch from the ends of the two short sides. Roll the dough and place each roll, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Score each roll along the top with a sharp knife at 1-inch intervals. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, let cool, then cut along the score lines.

Makes about 60

 

Cookies That Taste Like Home

I don't celebrate Christmas, but I do celebrate cookies. And cookies are a big part of the Christmas season. 

And so -- cookies.

When it comes to cookies, Lebkuchen is a seasonal special, with the magical fragrance of spices that make you feel warm and cozy when the weather's cold. I have tasted many many versions over the years, the best on a trip to Germany a few years ago.

So I tried my hand at baking some, a few recipes that were just okay. Then I baked these. My Hungarian friend Eva says they taste like "home." I took that as a win.

Happy holidays, whatever one you celebrate.

Lebkuchen Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or shortening or butter)
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice (or use lemon juice)
  • 1 large egg
  • all-purpose flour
  • candied ginger, dried cranberries, etc, optional

Combine the flour, orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl (or electric mixer bowl), whisk to distribute the ingredients evenly and set aside. Place the honey, molasses, brown sugar and coconut oil in a saucepan and cook over low-medium heat, stirring to blend the ingredients, until the coconut oil has melted and the liquid is smooth and evenly colored. Pour the liquid into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Add the orange juice and egg and mix ingredients thoroughly to make a smooth, evenly colored dough (about one minute at medium speed). The dough will be soft. Sprinkle the dough with some flour, wrap the dough or place it in a covered plastic container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough (in portions) on a floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out shapes. Place the shapes on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving some space between the cookies. Garnish the center with optional ginger, etc., if desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the cookies from the oven and brush with icing while they are still warm.

Icing:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the icing while the cookies are baking. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar, for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Brush on the cookies while they are still warm.

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen 2-inch cookies