christmas cookie party

Every year since moving to our little apartment in San Francisco, I’ve hosted a Christmas cookie party. We bake and decorate, drink mimosas, eat take out. It’s a good time. The tradition actually goes back further to when I was living in D.C. during college. My ‘Maryland family’, the Adinehs, would host a Christmas cookie party of impressive proportions. If there were not at least 12 types of cookies baked and two card tables piled high with delicious treats by the end of it, we had not done our job. There is nothing that makes a lover of butter feel more in the Christmas spirit.

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Thanks to our friend Kelly, there were no holds barred on the decorating front at this year’s cookie party. There were Mondrian cookies, there were paisley cookies, paintbrushes and toothpicks may have been brandished. Never before had I seen such dedication to the art of decorating. I felt like I was running a Martha Stewart craft factory and it was fantastic. Beyond artfully decorated sugar cookies, there were Jordan’s mom’s chocolate snow bombs, malted milk ball cookies, chocolate chip cookies, macaroons, chewy ginger cookies, and pralines. All modesty aside, we hit it out of the park this year.

The holidays are nigh and maybe you still need gifts for the neighbors, or maybe a plate of cookies for Santa, or maybe you just really like cookies? We’ve got plenty of recipes here to help you out.

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Granny’s Sugar Cookies (another one passed down from Nonnie for those who are counting out there)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour

Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and sugar and cream together for a few more minutes. Add the egg. In another bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder and flour. Add flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until combined. Divide into two balls, flatten into discs and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Roll out into 1/4″ thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 400° for 6 – 8 minutes. These babies cook fast so set a timer!

For the icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (trust me, it will save you time in the end)
1 lemon, juiced into a small bowl and strained of seeds
a few tablespoons of milk
food coloring

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the lemon juice and whisk together. It will be a big sugary clump. Add a tablespoon of milk at a time, until you get a smooth icing. Careful though, you don’t want it to be so runny it runs of the cookie. Divide into as many small bowls or cups as colors you’d like to make and add the food coloring.

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Chocolate Snow Bombs (Jordan’s mom’s specialty, aptly named by Jordan)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
powdered sugar for rolling

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly and add the sugar to the chocolate mixture. Add one egg at a time and beat well by hand with a wire whisk. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix well. Chill at least 30 minutes. Shape dough into 1″ balls, rolling in powdered sugar. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 300° for 18 – 20 minutes.

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Malted Whopper Cookies, adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup malted milk powder (we all remember this lesson, right?)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped Whoppers (or any malted milk balls)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add the malted milk powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat some more. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Mix in the flour mixture. Add the malt balls. Spoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350° for 10 – 12 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Eileen Crawford, my cousin Katie’s future mother-in-law (pulling out all the secret-family-recipe stops this year)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 Tbs unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/8 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-2 cups chocolate chips

Melt the butter. Combine the two sugars in bowl. Add melted butter and combine until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and combine until smooth. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder, lightly stir. Add flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Combine. Add chocolate chips. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spoon cookie dough onto cookie sheets and bake for 13-18 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. (I use a large soup spoon to measure the cookie dough and find 15 minutes works for me.)

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Big Chewy Ginger Cookies, adapted from AllRecipes
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
sugar for rolling

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat to combine. Add the egg and then mix in the water and molasses. Shape the dough into walnut sized balls and roll in sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350° for 8 – 10 minutes.

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Coconut Macaroons with Mini Chocolate Chips, adapted from AllRecipes
5 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Mix all ingredients to combine. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 – 10 minutes.

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So there you have it, an excess of sugar and butter that I guarantee will get you in the Christmas spirit.

-Emily
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