Shaped Sensations - Taste of Home Cookies, Cakes, & Pies - Editors at Taste of Home

Taste of Home Cookies, Cakes, & Pies: Bake up 368 sweet sensations with three cookbooks in one - Editors at Taste of Home (2017)

Shaped Sensations


THESE SHAPED GOODIES WILL SURE GO FAST AT ANY GET-TOGETHER OR BAKE SALE. WHETHER YOU ARE LOOKING TO BAKE THUMBPRINTS, SPRITZ, CRESCENTS OR TASSIES, WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED HERE! KIDS AND GROWN-UP KIDS ALIKE WILL ENJOY THESE DELICIOUS COOKIES.

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Salted Caramel Cookie Cups

When I brought these salty sweet cookies to a potluck, I overheard people talking about how wonderful they were. I’m not sure if it was the cookie, the caramel or the chocolate that they loved best.

—PRISCILLA YEE CONCORD, CA



PREP: 30 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 3 DOZEN


1 package (17 1/2 ounces) sugar cookie mix

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 large egg

FILLING

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

36 caramels

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

36 pecan halves, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cookie mix and flour. Beat in butter and egg until blended. Shape dough into 1 1/4-in. balls; press onto bottom and up sides of greased mini-muffin cups.

2. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, chocolate chips and confectioners’ sugar. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in each cup. Press one caramel into the filling in each cup. Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden brown and caramel is melted. Sprinkle with sea salt; top with a pecan half. Cool completely in pan on wire racks.

“The anise cookies have a beautiful texture and flavor! This is one of my favorite recipes.”

—FAMILYBAKERLISA FROM TASTEOFHOME.COM

Anise Cookies

My aunt would make these cookies for dessert. I can remember walking into the house and I’d almost swoon when I smelled them baking.

—ESTHER PEREA VAN NUYS, CA



PREP: 25 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 30 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 3 1/2 DOZEN


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed aniseed

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar, divided

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely chopped

2 teaspoons milk

1. Line a baking pan with foil; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, aniseed, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Stir in almonds and reserved flour mixture.

3. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a 12x2-in. rectangle on the prepared baking pan. Smooth the surface of each rectangle; brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

4. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 300°.

5. Transfer rectangles with foil to a wire rack; cool for 15 minutes. Place rectangles on a cutting board; cut diagonally into 1/2-in. slices. Place slices, cut side down, on baking pans.

6. Bake 10-12 minutes longer. Turn oven off, leaving cookies in oven to cool with door ajar. Store cookies in airtight containers.

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Cherry Almond Delights

A tender cream cheese dough filled with homemade almond paste and then topped with maraschino cherries makes an elegant cookie tart fit for a party.

—GILDA LESTER MILLSBORO, DE



PREP: 35 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 20 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 2 DOZEN


1/2 cup butter, softened

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 large egg

1 package (17 1/2 ounces) sugar cookie mix

FILLING

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

24 maraschino cherries, well drained

Confectioners’ sugar

1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in egg. Add cookie mix; mix well (dough will be sticky). Shape the dough into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

2. Place almonds and sugar in a food processor; pulse until almonds are finely chopped. Add eggs; process until mixture forms a paste. Add butter and vanilla; process until blended.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Shape dough into 1 1/4-in. balls; press onto bottom and up the sides of greased mini-muffin cups.

4. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in each cup. Top each with a cherry. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until edges are golden and filling is set. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Dust tops with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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BIG BATCH

Cranberry Tea Cookies

I usually have to make a double batch of these delicate cookies because they disappear so fast. They make a great hostess gift and look gorgeous set out on a silver platter. I use real butter for the best flavor.

—TRISHA KRUSE EAGLE, ID



PREP: 40 MIN. + CHILLING. ✵ BAKE: 20 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 50 COOKIES


1/2 cup butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups dried cranberries, chopped

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 cup orange juice

Confectioners’ sugar

1. In a large bowl, beat butter, cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and salt until blended. Gradually beat in flour. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm enough to roll.

2. In a small heavy saucepan, combine cranberries, orange peel, orange juice and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 8-10 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

3. Preheat oven to 325°. On a floured surface, roll each portion of the dough to a 10-in. square. Cut each into twenty-five 2-in. squares. Place 1 teaspoon of the cranberry mixture in the center of each square. Bring the two opposite corners of each square to the center; pinch firmly to seal. Place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

4. Bake 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Dust tops with confectioners’ sugar.

BIG BATCH

Chocolate-Almond Thumbprints

With a piped chocolate center, these special-looking thumbprints are almost too pretty to eat.

—JESSIE APFEL BERKELEY, CA



PREP: 45 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 5 1/2 DOZEN


1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup ground almonds

FILLING

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup almond paste

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup water

4 teaspoons meringue powder

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and extract. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

2. Place almonds in a shallow bowl. Roll dough into 1-in. balls; roll in almonds. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in center of each. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

3. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Add almond paste and beat until crumbly. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, water and meringue powder until smooth. Pipe filling into cookies, about 1 1/4 teaspoons in each. Store in airtight container.

NOTE Meringue powder is available from Wilton Industries. Call 800-794-5866 or visit wilton.com.

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5 INGREDIENTS

Trail Mix Cookie Cups

My granddaughter helped create these cookie cups for the first time by using ingredients from my pantry and fridge. We used trail mix to jazz them up.

—PAMELA SHANK PARKERSBURG, WV



PREP: 20 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 2 DOZEN


1 tube (16 1/2 ounces) refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough

1/2 cup Nutella

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 cups trail mix

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Shape peanut butter cookie dough into twenty-four balls (about 1 1/4 in.). Press each evenly onto bottom and up sides of greased mini-muffin cups.

2. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, reshape cups as necessary. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

3. Fill each with 1 teaspoon each Nutella and peanut butter. Top with trail mix.

BIG BATCH

Pretzel Cookies

It’s easy to shape this shortbread-like dough into a fun pretzel-shaped cookie. You also can sprinkle them with colored sugar or sprinkles.

—JOHNNA JOHNSON SCOTTSDALE, AZ



PREP: 45 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH ✵ MAKES: 4 DOZEN


1 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped

1/4 cup coarse sugar

EGG WASH

1 large egg

1 tablespoon water

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, sour cream and extracts. Combine flour and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

2. Divide the dough into fourths; shape each portion into a 6-in. roll. Cut rolls into 1/2-in. slices; roll each into a 10-in. rope. Shape into a pretzel; place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

3. In a small bowl, combine almonds and sugar. In another bowl, whisk egg and water. Brush each cookie with egg wash: sprinkle with almond mixture. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes or until firm. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks.

TO MAKE AHEAD Dough can be made 2 days in advance. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator.

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5 INGREDIENTS

Rocky Road Cookie Cups

Traditional Rocky Road ice cream has nuts, marshmallows and chocolate. Using prepared cookie dough makes it easy to put the flavors together in these fast, kid-friendly cups.

—CHARLOTTE MCDANIEL JACKSONVILLE, AL



PREP: 20 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 2 DOZEN


1 tube (16 1/2 ounces) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

3/4 cup miniature marshmallows

2 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Shape dough into 1 1/4-in. balls; press evenly onto bottom and up sides of 24 greased mini-muffin cups.

2. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden. Using the back of a measuring teaspoon, make an indentation in each cup. Immediately place 3 marshmallows and 1/4 teaspoon chocolate chips in each cup; sprinkle with almonds. Return to oven; bake 1 minute longer. Cool completely in pans on wire racks.

NOTE To toast nuts, spread them in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Or, place in a dry nonstick skillet and heat over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

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BIG BATCH

Mini-Chip Crescent Cookies

These are an absolute necessity on any Christmas platter I put together. They’re the only cookie my family wants for Christmas, so I don’t make cutout cookies anymore.

—NORENE LAESSIG STRATFORD, WI



PREP: 40 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH + CHILLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 6 DOZEN


1 cup butter, softened

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract, optional

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons shortening

Optional toppings: toasted coconut, sprinkles and toasted chopped almonds

1. In a large bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar until blended. Beat in egg and extracts. In another bowl, whisk flour and baking powder; gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in miniature chocolate chips. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour or until firm enough to shape.

2. Preheat oven to 375°. Shape level tablespoons of dough into crescent shapes. Place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

3. In a microwave, melt 2 cups chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. If desired, sprinkle with toppings. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.

NOTE To toast nuts and coconut, bake in separate shallow pans in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

BIG BATCH

Buttery Nut Cookies

Make these wonderful cookies for the holidays as gifts for friends. They’ll end up asking for the recipe.

—STACY DUFFY CHICAGO, IL



PREP: 15 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN./BATCH ✵ MAKES: 4 DOZEN


1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup ground pecans

Confectioners’ sugar, optional

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted, optional

1. In a bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Combine flour and pecans; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

2. Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 1 1/2-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until firm.

3. If desired, immediately roll the warm cookies in confectioners’ sugar; or cool the cookies and drizzle them with melted chocolate.

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FREEZE IT

Lemon & Rosemary Butter Cookies

Cooling lemon and aromatic rosemary make these butter cookies stand out. I use them to punch up cookie trays for potlucks or give them as gifts.

—ELIZABETH HOKANSON ARBORG, MB



PREP: 20 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN. ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 2 DOZEN


1 1/4 cups sugar, divided

4 teaspoons grated lemon peel, divided

1 cup butter, softened

2 large egg yolks

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon peel. In a large bowl, beat butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, rosemary and remaining lemon peel. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.

2. Shape dough into 1 1/4-in. balls; roll in sugar mixture. Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper- lined baking sheets. Flatten to 1/4-in. thickness with bottom of a glass. Sprinkle tops of cookies with remaining sugar mixture. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

FREEZE OPTION Freeze shaped balls of dough on baking sheets until firm. Transfer to resealable plastic freezer bags; return to freezer. Prepare and bake cookies as directed.

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Italian Honey Clusters

My mother made these treats flavored with cinnamon and anise for neighbors, teachers and anyone who stopped by. Make sure the honey doesn’t boil longer than a minute or it could burn.

—SARAH KNOBLOCK HYDE PARK, IN



PREP: 45 MIN. + STANDING ✵ COOK: 5 MIN./BATCH ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 2 DOZEN


3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon aniseed, crushed

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup 2% milk

Oil for deep-fat frying

1 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Nonpareils, optional

1. Line 24 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, aniseed and salt. Stir in eggs and milk. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Let stand 1 hour.

2. Divide dough into six portions. Roll each portion into 1/2-in.-thick ropes; cut crosswise into 1/2-in. pieces. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 350°. Fry pieces, a few at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place dough pieces in a large heatproof bowl and keep warm in a 200° oven.

3. In a large heavy saucepan, combine honey and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 1 minute. Immediately remove from heat and drizzle over dough pieces. Stir to coat. Immediately spoon into prepared cups. Sprinkle with pine nuts and, if desired, nonpareils.

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Thumbprints

When I dig out my best cookie recipes, they remind me of baking when my kids were young. These thumbprints with cherries elicit sweet memories.

—DEBORAH PUETTE LILBURN, GA



PREP: 30 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 2 DOZEN


1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, separated

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped salted roasted almonds

FILLING

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon 2% milk

TOPPINGS

24 maraschino cherries

4 ounces milk chocolate candy coating, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening, brown sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually beat flour into creamed mixture. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Shape dough into 1 1/4-in. balls. In a shallow bowl, whisk egg white until foamy. Place almonds in a separate shallow bowl. Dip balls in egg white; roll in almonds.

3. Place balls 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Press a deep indentation in center of each with your thumb. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from pans to wire racks.

4. In a small bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar, cherry juice, butter and milk until smooth. Fill each cookie with 1/4 teaspoon of filling; top each with one cherry. Drizzle with candy coating. Let stand until set.

BIG BATCH

Spritz Cookies

It was a tradition to make these cookies with my grandmother every Christmas. Now my two daughters help me make them for the holidays.

—SHARON CLAUSSEN WHEAT RIDGE, CO



PREP: 25 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN. ✵ MAKES: 11 DOZEN


2 cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup light corn syrup

Colored sugar

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture and mix well.

2. Using a cookie press fitted with the disk of your choice, press dough 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 11-12 minutes or until set (do not brown). Remove to wire racks to cool.

3. Microwave corn syrup for 6-8 seconds or until thinned. Working with a few cookies at a time, brush corn syrup over the surface and dip into sugar. Reheat corn syrup as necessary. Let cookies stand until set.

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BIG BATCH

Greek Butter Crescents

I had to bake something regarding my heritage for school. I made these little drops of heaven called kourabiedes.

—REBECCA SPRAGUE ST LOUIS, MO



PREP: 45 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 5 DOZEN


1 pound butter, melted and cooled

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, beat butter and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until blended. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour and baking powder; gradually stir into creamed mixture until blended (mixture will be crumbly). Shape heaping tablespoons of dough into crescents. Place 1-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool 15 minutes.

2. Place remaining confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Toss slightly cooled cookies in sugar; return cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Toss cookies in sugar once more before serving. Store in an airtight container, adding any remaining sugar to cover cookies.

TOP TIP

The Perfect Crescent

To get just the right crescent shape for your cookie tray, roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a small 2½-in. log first between the palms of your hands, and then bend the log slightly to form a crescent.

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FREEZE IT

Cranberry Pecan Tassies

A traditional pecan tassie is a small tart with nuts. This Thanksgiving version adds cranberries. It’s festive!

—PEGGY WEST GEORGETOWN, DE



PREP: 25 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 20 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 2 DOZEN


1/2 cup butter, softened

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed

1. In a small bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in flour. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes or until firm enough to shape.

2. Preheat oven to 325°. Shape dough into 1-in. balls; place in greased mini-muffin cups. Press evenly onto bottoms and up sides of cups.

3. In a small bowl, beat the egg, brown sugar, melted butter and the orange peel until blended. Stir in pecans. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons of this mixture into each cup; top with cranberries.

4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is set. Cool in pans for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

FREEZE OPTION Freeze cookies, layered between waxed paper, in freezer containers. To use, thaw before serving.

BIG BATCH

Raspberry-Almond Crescent Cookies

My flaky, two-bite crescent cookies are sensational treats. Filled with raspberry preserves, coconut and almonds, they might remind you of rugelach.

—KELLY WILLIAMS FORKED RIVER, NJ



PREP: 45 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN./BATCH ✵ MAKES: 4 DOZEN


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cold butter, cubed

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FILLING

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

3/4 cup flaked coconut

1/3 cup finely chopped almonds

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Coarse sugar

1. Place the flour in a large bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl, whisk egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla until smooth; stir into flour mixture.

2. Divide dough into four portions. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, mix raspberry jam, coconut, almonds and almond extract until blended. On a well-sugared surface, roll each portion of dough into a 10-in. circle. Spread about 1/3 cup filling over circles. Cut each into 12 wedges. Roll up wedges from the wide ends. Place 1 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, point side down; curve to form crescents. Brush with egg white; sprinkle with coarse sugar.

4. Bake 15-18 minutes or until set (do not brown). Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

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Dipped Chocolate Logs

When my sister and I were little, we used to beg my mother and grandmother to make these buttery cookies during the holidays. Now, as moms ourselves, we get together every year to make Christmas cookies and the chocolate logs are always on the top of our list.

—DEANNA MARKOS WESTERN SPRINGS, IL



PREP: 1 HOUR ✵ BAKE: 20 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 3 DOZEN


6 tablespoons baking cocoa

1/4 cup hot water

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

GLAZE

3 tablespoons baking cocoa

2 tablespoons hot water

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons 2% milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup finely ground pecans

1 tablespoon red nonpareils

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, mix cocoa and hot water until smooth; cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and cocoa mixture. In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda; gradually beat into the creamed mixture (dough will be stiff).

3. Cut a large hole in the tip of a pastry bag; insert #829 or other open star pastry tip. Working in batches, pipe dough to form 2 1/2-in.-long logs, 2 in. apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.

4. Bake 18-22 minutes or until firm. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

5. For glaze, in a small bowl, mix cocoa and hot water until smooth; stir in butter, milk and vanilla. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, mixing until smooth.

6. Dip each cookie halfway into warm glaze, holding cookie at a slight angle; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle with pecans and nonpareils. Let stand until set.

Big & Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies

My version of this classic cookie is based on a recipe from a bakery in California called Hungry Bear. The cookie is big, thick and chewy—perfect for dunking.

—IRENE YEH MEQUON, WI



PREP: 35 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 2 DOZEN


1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

2. Shape 1/4 cupfuls of dough into balls. Flatten each to 3/4-in. thickness (2 1/2-in. diameter), smoothing edges as necessary. Place in an airtight container, separating layers with waxed or parchment paper; refrigerate, covered, overnight.

3. To bake, place dough portions 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 400°.

4. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown (centers will be light). Cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

NOTE To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

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Gingerbread Cookie Bites

I transformed store-bought cookie mix into mini tarts similar to gingerbread brownies. For garnish, try chopped crystalized ginger or a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.

—SHENAE PULLIAM SWANSEA, SC



PREP: 30 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 3 DOZEN


1 package (14 1/2 ounces) gingerbread cake/cookie mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional

FILLING

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Crystallized ginger, chopped, optional

1. In a large bowl, beat cake/cookie mix, butter, sugar, egg, flour, water and, if desired, ginger until blended. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Shape dough into 1-in. balls; place in ungreased mini-muffin cups. Press evenly onto bottoms and up the sides of cups. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Cool in pans for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

3. For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Pipe into cookie cups; sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and, if desired, crystallized ginger. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

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FREEZE IT BIG BATCH

Apricot-Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

The past few years I have experimented using cake mixes to make favorite or new cookie recipes. This is one of those that has met approval with many.

—NANCY JOHNSON LAVERNE, OK



PREP: 30 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 7 DOZEN


2 packages yellow cake mix (regular size)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup canola oil

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3 tablespoons water

4 cups finely chopped pecans, divided

2/3 cup apricot preserves

ICING

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 to 5 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, flour, oil, 4 eggs, cinnamon and ginger until well blended.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk water and remaining eggs. Place half of the pecans in another shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1-in. balls. Dip in egg mixture, then coat with pecans, adding remaining pecans to bowl as needed. Place cookies 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

3. Press a deep indentation in center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon handle. Fill each with preserves. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

4. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and enough water to achieve a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cookies. Let stand until set.

FREEZE OPTION Freeze drizzled cookies, layered between waxed paper, in freezer containers. To use, thaw in covered containers.

BIG BATCH

Lacy Brandy Snaps

These captivating, fluff-filled crisps are the perfect “little something sweet” that guests crave at the end of a filling meal.

—NATALIE BREMSON PLANTATION, FL



PREP: 30 MIN. ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH + COOLING ✵ MAKES: 4 DOZEN


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons brandy

1 teaspoon ground ginger

FILLING

4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup brandy

Grated chocolate, optional

1. In a small saucepan, combine butter, sugar and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the flour, brandy and ginger.

2. Drop by teaspoonfuls, three at a time, 3 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Cool for 30-45 seconds. Working quickly, loosen each cookie and curl around a thick wooden spoon handle. (If cookies become to cool to shape, return to oven for 1 minute to soften.) Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

4. For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar and brandy; beat until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, pipe cream mixture into cookies. Sprinkle ends with chocolate if desired.

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Caramel Apple Bites

Kids find this recipe especially appealing. They can help out by dipping the baked cookies in caramel and nuts—and also by eating the treats! These bites just disappear at my house.

—DARLENE BRENDEN SALEM, OR



PREP: 25 MIN. + STANDING ✵ BAKE: 15 MIN. + COOLING ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 3 DOZEN


FILLING

1/3 cup finely chopped unpeeled apple

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

DOUGH

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

TOPPING

1 package (14 ounces) caramels

2/3 cup evaporated milk

Green toothpicks

1 cup chopped walnuts

1. In a small saucepan, combine filling ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened; set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

3. Shape dough into 1-in. balls. Flatten and place 1/4 teaspoon filling in center of each. Fold dough over filling and reshape into balls. Place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

4. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

5. In a small saucepan over low heat, cook caramels and evaporated milk until caramels are melted; stir until smooth. Insert a toothpick into each cookie and dip into caramel until completely coated; allow excess to drip off. Dip bottoms into nuts. Place on wire racks to set.

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Mexican Crinkle Cookies

When it’s baking time, my family lobbies for these Mexican crinkle cookies. You can replace 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate with 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder plus 1 Tbsp. shortening, butter or oil.

—KIM KENYON GREENWOOD, MO



PREP: 25 MIN. + CHILLING ✵ BAKE: 10 MIN./BATCH ✵ MAKES: ABOUT 2 DOZEN


3/4 cup butter, cubed

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate; stir until smooth. Beat in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended. Beat in egg. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt; gradually beat into brown sugar mixture. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour or until firm.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. In a shallow bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar and remaining cinnamon. Shape dough into 1 1/2-in. balls; roll in confectioners’ sugar mixture. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set and tops are cracked. Cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

“The apple bites were a home run! I followed the directions exactly and they came out great.”

—ORACLEROGUE FROM TASTEOFHOME.COM

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