Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quick Cookies During Crazy Holidays!

Tis the season for baking cookies!  Aaaannnd about a billion other things that you have to get done before the Big Day.  There's shopping, list making, decorating, and last minute hoopla, all on top of your regular daily hustle and bustle.  So who's got time for baking?  Don't worry, this blog post is going to be all about baking creative goodies in a way that you can be efficient, have fun, and have something in time to bring to the Holiday office party.

This is usually my time of all day/night crazy baking.  And even though I greatly enjoy my holiday baking extravaganza, I just didn't have the time and energy I usually do to do it this year.  But I wanted to bring something fresh and new to the office, and most importantly, I needed to take some time out of my busy schedule for something that makes me happy.  So how did I reconcile this conundrum?  I theorized about this for a week or so, and decided to create one simple base batter and make several different types of cookies from it.  I only made 4 types this time, but the combinations are vast for any number of cookie concoctions you want to toy with.

There are 3 types pictured here, but the cookie dough base is just a basic sugar cookie, which you can count as a type all on its own.  From left to right, we have Butter Brickle, Andes Mint, and Candy Cane cookies.  Here's what you'll need to make them:

I have always made my own sugar cookies from scratch, but like I said, sometimes you need a shortcut, and this time I took it.  Betty Crocker makes a pretty good simple sugar cookie bag mix, and it's really quick and easy, but of course any sugar cookie mix will do.  So for the base dough, follow the instructions on the back of the cookie mix.  I just used one bag of "snack size" mix for each cookie type I wanted to make.  The package says it makes 1 dozen cookies, but I got anywhere from 14-16 cookies out of each bag.  All of these cookies bake at 375, so go ahead and preheat the oven.

Butter Brickle Cookies:

Follow the bag instructions for making up the batter then add the following:

1/4 cup of Heath English Toffee Bits
1/4 cup of  Kraft Caramel Bits

Lightly grease the cookie sheet with cooking spray for these.  The package says "ungreased," but you will need it because the toffee and caramel bits will stick if you don't.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 13-14 minutes or until edges are golden.  Let the cookies stand for a couple of minutes then tranfer to a wire rack or large piece of wax paper to let them cool the rest of the way.  Although, you really should shove a couple in your mouth while they are still warm and gooey because, OMG!

I forgot to add these to the "what you'll need" picture
Andes Mint Cookies:

Follow the bag instructions for making up the batter.  Here are the extra ingredients you'll need:

1/4 cup of Andes Mint Baking Chips (melted)
Extra Andes chips for topping (UNmelted)

Microwave the chips in a cup in 20 second intervals, stirring between each one, until completely melted.  Pour onto dough and quickly knead it together with your hands.  The mint chocolate will want to set up pretty fast, so I found that using my hands was fast and efficient, plus left a marbled-like pattern in the dough, which was pretty cool!  Bake for about 10-11minutes, and when they are almost done, pull the tray out and scatter a few bits of Andes on top of each cookie.  Put them back in the oven for one more minute, then remove, let stand for a couple of minutes, and transfer to the rack or wax paper to cool.  

Ok, while those are cooking, let's move on to the last batch!

Candy Cane Cookies:

Follow the bag instructions for making up the batter.  Here are the extra ingredients you'll need:

1/4 cup of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips 
2 candy canes for topping (crushed)

Add the peppermint chips to the batter and stir until everything is mixed evenly. Bake at 375 for about 10-11 minutes.  Pull the cookies out and top with crushed candy canes and bake for another minute.  Let stand for a couple of minutes and transfer to rack or wax paper to cool.

Whether you divvy them up in decorative bags or festive containers to give to others as gifts, be sure to enjoy a few yourself as a reward for all your hard work this Holiday Season.  Enjoy your cookie break with a cup of hot coffee, or better yet, a cup of warm cocoa.  Sit down, slow down, and enjoy yourself and reflect what the season brings/means to you.  

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