LAURA DAVIS: Cookie baking is in full swing for the holidays

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Laura Davis

The holidays are in full swing here on the Eastern Shore!

With Christmas parades lining our downtown streets, festive lights all about, church services, and school performances, we are so fortunate to live in a place that shines so brightly this time of year, aren’t we?

Cookie baking is in full swing in my kitchen. I love to share treats with friends and neighbors, usually in tins from the dollar store lined with wax paper.

Gifting homemade goodies is kind of something that has fallen by the wayside, I feel like.
But it’s a tradition I’m trying to keep going strong.

It’s always nice to have a “little something” on hand for making merry.

Here are a few of my old stand-bys to start getting those lists compiled, if you haven’t already.

Everyone has their own family favorites that you’ll want to add to your cookie cornucopia.

It’s always a wonderful time to reflect on holiday memories of the past and to honor those who aren’t with us in the kitchen anymore.

From my home to yours, I send the warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year in 2024!

PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS

— 48 Hershey’s Kisses chocolates (mini Reese’s also great)

— 1/2 cup butter, softened

— 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

— 1/3 cup granulated sugar

— 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

— 1 egg

— 2 tbsp. milk

— 1 tsp. vanilla extract

— 2 cups all-purpose flour

— 1 tsp. baking soda

— 1/2 tsp salt

— granulated or sprinkling sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolate kisses.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until fluffy.

With mixer running on low, add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Slowly add in the flour, and mix until combined.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

— 1 cup butter, room temperature

— 2 eggs, room temperature

— 1 cup light brown sugar

— 1 cup granulated sugar

— 3 cups all-purpose flour

— 1 tsp. salt

— 1 tsp. baking powder

— 1 tsp vanilla extract

— 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

— 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease or spray two cookies sheets and set aside.

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until creamy.

Reduce speed to low, and add the eggs (one at a time), and the vanilla. Mix to combine.

Slowly add in the sifted flour and mix until just incorporated.

Add the chocolate and the walnuts to the bowl and mix until they are distributed evenly.

Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, drop 1-inch balls onto greased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Cook on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to cooling rack as cookies will be very soft.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

RUM BALLS

— 1 box vanilla wafers, crushed in a food processor

— 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

— 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

— 1/4 light corn syrup

— 2/3 cup rum

— pinch of salt

— 2 cups pecans lightly toasted

— 1/2 cup confectioner sugar (for rolling)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water.

In a large bowl combine brown sugar, corn syrup, rum, and salt.

Add melted chocolate, crushed vanilla wafers and half the pecans. Mix to combine.

Spread the remaining pecans in a shallow container or plate for rolling.

Do the same for the confectioner sugar.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll into nuts or sugar.

Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving to blend flavors.

Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or they can be frozen.

— Laura Davis, of Chincoteague Island, is a food writer and blogger at www.tideandthyme.com. Her recipes have been featured on Huffington Post and www.craftbeer.com, among other publications. She is a frequent guest on WBOC-TV’s DelmarvaLife show, where she showcases her culinary talents for viewers. Her work appears monthly in Shore First.

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