Monday, December 07, 2009

'Tis the Season...to Start Baking Up a Storm!!!


For a gal who doesn't really eat sweets often, I sure do a lot of baking during the holidays! Every year, I go on a baking frenzy and bake lots and LOTS of goodies for friends and family. It's a personal touch and a simple note to let people know they're important to me. This said, I really should be making everyone salads or vegetable casseroles to show them how much I care...and not giving them decadent desserts to help them clog their arteries. *sigh* Somehow a salad doesn't quite have the same "I love you" effect as a box of homemade cookies. It doesn't quite have the same WOW factor!

Anyway, a girlfriend asked me for recipes for freezable baked goods, so I decided to just put the recipes on the blog. Last time someone asked me for a recipe, I ended up having to e-mail the recipe to over a dozen other people. What can I say? I'm lazy. Now you all get the recipes!

Fancy Fake-Outs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:

* 1 cup butter, softened (NO substitutes)
* 1 cup powdered sugar
* dash salt
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 1-1/4 cups flour
* 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
* Chocolate Star Candies

Preparation:
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar and add vanilla. Stir in flour and oats. Shape dough into 2 rolls, each 1-1/2" in diameter. Wrap well in waxed paper, twisting the ends to seal. Chill well, at least 2 hours, before baking.

When ready to bake, cut dough into 1/4" slices and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Top each with a chocolate star. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove to racks to cool. 48 cookies

Make a few batches and store the dough in your fridge (up to four days) or the freezer (up to 3 months) to whip out for last-minute guests.

Butter Cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Ingredients:

* 1 cup butter, softened (NO substitutes)
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 Tbsp. orange juice
* 1 Tbsp. vanilla
* 2-1/2 cups flour
* 1 tsp. baking powder

Preparation:
In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, orange juice, and vanilla and beat well to combine. Sift flour and baking powder and add to butter mixture. Mix until a dough forms. Cover and chill dough until firm, about 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough, 1/2 at a time, on a well-floured surface, with stockinet covered rolling pin, to a 1/4" thickness. Cut with shaped cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 6-10 minutes until very lightly brown.

When cookies have cooled, frost with Buttercream Frosting, tinted different colors with liquid or paste food coloring.

To freeze, prepare dough and divide into four portions. Shape each portion into a 1/2" thick disc. Freeze on waxed paper lined cookie sheets, then pack into hard sided freezer containers. Label; freeze up to 6 months. To thaw and bake, let freezer container stand at room temperature for about an hour. One at a time, use each disc, rolling out and cutting cookies (keep remaining dough covered). Bake cookies and frost as directed.

Chocolate Almond Freezer Cookies
Yield 6 dozen
Ingredients

* 4 (1 ounce) squares milk chocolate, chopped
* 3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 egg
* 1/2 cup apricot preserves

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the almonds and the milk chocolate. Add half of the sugar, and mix well. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft. Stir in the vanilla and remaining sugar until well blended.
3. Mix in the egg and apricot preserves. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Stir into the egg mixture. Add the chocolate and nut mixture and stir until well blended. Mixture will be stiff.
4. Spread two lengths of plastic wrap about 12 inches long on a counter. Spoon half of the dough down each length of the wrap, forming strips 8 to 9 inches long. Bring the two long sides of the wrap together on top of one of the strips of dough. Press together close to the dough and smooth into a strip about 9 inches long, 3 inches wide and 1 inch high. Repeat with second strip. Freeze for at least 1 1/2 hours, or as long as you'd like.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or baking parchment. Unwrap the frozen dough and cut 1/4 inch thick slices. Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
6. Bake for about 11 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

All of these recipes can be made in advance. Shape cookies and store in freezer until ready to bake. These are easy to make ahead of time. You can also freeze the cookies (already baked).

TIPS FOR FREEZING AND STORING BAKED GOODS:
- Always make sure you let your baked goods cool completely before you wrap, store or freeze them.
-Wrap and then double wrap your desserts. Wrap desserts in two layers of plastic wrap and then put it in a heavy duty freezer bag (like a Ziploc freezer bag). Make sure to push as much air out to avoid freezer burn.
-Make sure to THAW frozen desserts in the fridge or on the counter before serving.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I noticed the time of this posting. 11:47 pm.
Aren't mothers supposed to be in bed by this time? LOL I owe you big time:)
xoxoxoxoxo

C said...

Erin:
Nah, you don't owe me anything :) I DO want a wedding photo of you and your hubby-to-be though!!! Haven't sent out our Christmas cards yet. We haven't received them yet. As soon as they get here, I'll be sending yours out...along with a bunch of other pics of the baby. Miss and love ya! Happy baking!! Let me know how it goes! XOXO

jMo said...

Great tips for storing baked goods, C. I've had some bad experiences with freezer burn and desserts not holding up well to time or the freezer.
I'm still afraid to freeze them, but with the weather change, maybe I could store them next to a window.
That might be the cut out cookie recipe I use (your butter cookie recipe) or something very close.
Think I'll post my baking mishaps on my Web site this year since Everydamn body is getting homemade sweets for Christmas.

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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