Bake Up Some Memories

By Barb Howell | Cookie photography by Holly Leitner

I’m guessing most of us, if we’re lucky, have fond childhood memories of spending cold winter days in a warm kitchen, waiting in anticipation to help with holiday baking. Each Christmas, my brothers and I would position ourselves before a floured surface, cookie cutters in hand, ready to begin one of our family’s annual traditions. Our festive cutouts were always less than perfect and maybe we scattered a little (well, more than a little) flour on the floor, but my mother encouraged our enthusiasm as she gingerly placed the cookies on a baking sheet and into the oven.

Memories, which evoke Norman Rockwell-like images, emerge easily, especially this time of year. They are centered in our very core and make us who we are. Chances are you’ve gathered your own children and perhaps grandchildren together to share your family’s holiday baking traditions. Maybe you’ve even started brand new traditions, inviting friends to a baking party where recipes are swapped and a glass of holiday cheer is enjoyed.

The staff of At The Lake includes several very talented bakers. And our gift to you this holiday season is a collection of some of their favorite cookie recipes. We hope you take the time to try them and add them to your holiday baking traditions, building new memories along the way. Enjoy!

VANILLA SANDWICH COOKIES

By Kristina Hugasian
INGREDIENTS:

Cookies

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 stick vegetable shortening
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar (found at European or specialty grocery stores)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt zest of 1 lemon
  • Filling 1/2 cup jam or spreadable preserves (apricot or marmalade are traditional, but I’ve also used raspberry)

Topping

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter and vegetable shortening with a mixer until well blended. Add egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt, mix well.
  2. Chill dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. On a flat, floured surface, roll out a section of dough to about a 1/4” thickness. Using a small (approximately 1″ to 1 1/2″ wide) cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on the prepared cookie sheet at least 1/2″ apart. A shot glass works great.
  5. Bake for 13 minutes, or until edges are just golden. Cookies will crumble apart if they’re overdone. Cool completely.
  6. Spread a thin layer of jam on the bottom of a cookie, then top it with another to create a sandwich.
  7. Mix remaining sugar and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Gently roll sandwiched cookies in sugar, coat well. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 days before serving. If necessary, reroll in sugar before presenting.

CHOCOLATE CUTOUT COOKIES

By Kristen Rouse
INGREDIENTS:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Beat butter in mixer for 1 minute until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla on high. Scrape bowl.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa powder together. Whisk in baking powder and salt. On low, slowly mix in wet ingredients until combined.
  3. Chill for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll and cut out dough. Bake for 10 minutes.

CHEWY MOLASSES COOKIES WITH A KICK

By Holly Leitner
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on your heat preference)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup molasses
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and salt. In a shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until combined. Beat in egg and then molasses until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in dry ingredients, just until dough forms.
  3. Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each equal to 1 Tbsp.
  4. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat.
  5. Arrange balls on baking sheets, about 3” apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until edges of cookies are just firm, 10 to 15 minutes. (Cookies can be baked two sheets at a time, but they will not crackle uniformly).
  6. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets; transfer to racks to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies

MELTING MOMENTS

By Deann Hausner
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and salt.
  2. In separate bowl, combine flour and cornstarch, gradually add to creamed mixture. Shape into 1 ½-inch balls, chill for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place dough balls on ungreased cookie sheets, let stand for 10 minutes.
  4. Flatten slightly. Bake at 350 F for approx. 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Spread with Icing.

Makes approximately 2 dozen.

ICING:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. half-and-half
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
DIRECTIONS:

In small bowl, beat butter, sugar, cream and extract until smooth.

SITTIN’ PRETTY PEANUT COOKIES

By Ashley Duchemin
INGREDIENTS:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped peanuts, toasted
  • ½ cup vanilla frosting
  • Peanut M&Ms
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Roll into 1″ balls. In a small bowl, beat egg white. Dip balls into egg white, then roll in peanuts. Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake at 350 F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven; using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each.
  4. Bake 7-9 minutes longer or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Fill centers with vanilla frosting and top with M&Ms.

EASY OREO TRUFFLES

By Cindy Smith
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 package Oreo cookies, crushed (Reserve 4-6 cookies to crush for topping.)
  • 1, 8 oz. package regular cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 lb. milk chocolate or white chocolate bark coating
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Mix cream cheese and Oreo crumbs with mixer.
  2. Roll into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Chill for 30-60 minutes.
  3. When cookies have chilled, melt milk chocolate or white chocolate bark coating in the microwave or a double boiler.
  4. Using 2 forks, dip the truffles in the melted coating and return to parchment lined pan.
  5. Sprinkle with a few of the reserved crumbs for decoration.

HAWKINS HOLIDAY MORSELS

By Barb Krause
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • 1 package butterscotch chips
  • 1 ½ cups corn flakes
  • 1 ½ cups peanuts
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Microwave chocolate and butterscotch chips for 1 ½ minutes until melted.
  2. Pour in corn flakes and peanuts.
  3. Drop onto wax paper, cool in refrigerator or freezer.
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