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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ho Ho Cookie Dough, And The Tree Gets (Some Of) Its Bling

After posting pictures of the cookies my friend
Emily and I made at That Old House on Tuesday,
I got more than a few requests for some recipes.

Being the obedient blogger that I am, I put some of
the recipes at the end of this post, and I hope you enjoy them!

Josh did.
Okay, full disclosure.  Daughter Alida refused to pose with a cookie this morning because at 11:00
she was still in her pajamas, so her gallant husband took the bullet for her
and kindly held the cookie up so I could take a picture.
And then he ate it.  His Mama didn't raise no fool.
Perfect New Jersey breakfast -- fresh bagel with veggie cheese, and an oatmeal cookie.
All the USDA food groups in one fell swoop.

Before Howard left for work this morning, he toddled off to the bagel bakery, 
and brought home a big warm bag of these:
Enormous crusty-chewy New Jersey bagels.
We rarely buy these anymore, so when Howard walks into Bagel-Os and smells them,
he gets a little giddy and brings home vast quantities.

Meanwhile, our Sunroom tree is almost nearing its saturation point for ornaments.

I still see some darkish places that could use a little more bling.

Yes, lots of room for more bling, don't you think?

I told Howard that I might need a few more ornaments this year . . . .
He ran away and went to that place called Work.

Dion says that he is tired of finding Rubbermaid bins marked with "C" for Christmas
parked all over the house, and can we please wrap this up?
I think he means it.

Today -- more decorating, some cleaning, and the final lists of foods for Saturday's party.
I realized I'd forgotten to put Herring on the list, and that made me wonder what else I'd forgotten.
How can a Norwegian forget such a thing as Herring anyway?  That would be like forgetting the Gjetost!

Cookie Recipes
Vermont Crackles Cookies
Recipe -- Vermont Crackles
I found this recipe in the early 80s in a Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine.
(It had a Santa Sleigh made of sugar cookies on the cover and is the BEST cookie mag EVER.
If you have one, guard it with your life.  Or give it to me.)
This recipe is a keeper - a distant Snickerdoodle cousin, with a sweet and spicy personality.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 TSP Cinnamon
1/4 TSP Mace (see Notes below)
1/4 TSP Baking Soda
1-1/2 TSP Baking Powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 TBS Maple Syrup (real or pancake syrup style; I actually prefer the pancake syrup in this cookie)
AND some coarse white or colored decorating sugar; I use red and green at Christmas.

Beat butter or margarine in a large mixing bowl until softened and a little fluffed.
Mix your dry ingredients together, using only ONE HALF of the flour (1 cup flour, and the cinnamon, mace, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar).  Add to the mixer and beat into the butter.
Add the egg and the maple syrup, beat to combine.
Beat or stir in remaining 1 cup of flour.
Form the dough into 1-inch balls, and roll the balls in your chosen decorating sugar.
Plop them onto greased cookie sheets, leaving more than 2 inches between dough lumps, as they spread.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes.  They will puff up, then collapse, leaving the "Crackle" tops from whence they get their name.
Cool them on a wire rack, and enjoy with a glass of cold milk OR a dish of vanilla ice cream drizzled with maple syrup.  Nice paired with spiced tea, too.

It says it makes 48.  It doesn't, but then cookie recipes never make as many as promised, do they?

(Notes: We used a larger cookie dough lump and made bigger than usual cookies, so we baked them for 15 minutes.  I usually add just a touch more spice than called for.  Taste your dough.  And if you don't have Mace, use Nutmeg.  Mace is the ground outer covering of the Nutmeg.)
Meringues The Easy Way
(Cloud Cookies)

You can make meringues using all sorts of methods, from leaving them in an oven overnight, to adding gelatin to hold them together, to whisking the egg whites in a high-falutin' fancy copper bowl with a giant balloon whisk until your arm falls off . . . or you can make these almost ridiculously easy meringues that my girls used to call "Cloud Cookies."  

You will want to use an electric mixer for this, preferably fitted with a whisk attachment.
Otherwise, your arm will indeed fall off.  You have been warned.  Do not sue me.

4 Egg Whites (I use Large eggs)
1 cup regular ol' sugar

Beat the living daylights out of your egg whites, until they are all frothed up and blindingly white.
With the mixer running, s-l-o-w-l-y add the sugar, and the meringue will turn all beautifully glossy and shiny and thick, like a supermodel's hair.  Yes, "stiff peaks will form," but we will not make any jokes about that.
Instead of greasing the cookie sheets, I line them with foil or freezer paper.  Don't bake these on bare metal  unless you want a permanent installation of meringue bottoms on your cookie sheets.
And preheat the oven to 300 or 325 -- you know if your oven runs hot or cold.

For plain white cookies, just stir in a 1/2 TSP or so of pure vanilla, plop out lumps of meringue from a spoon onto the cookie sheets, and follow the baking directions below.  These look most like clouds.
For more deliciousness, stir in teeny-weeny chocolate chips.  Or finely chopped peppermint candy canes.  Or crushed nuts.  Or chopped dried fruit like cherries or cranberries.  Or finely broken-up toffee bars.  Use whatever appeals to you, but probably not stuffed olives.  Don't overload the meringues with stuff; they're pretty, but they ain't got much muscle.
For even more deliciousness at Christmas, replace the vanilla with peppermint extract.  And just before forming the cookies, add a bit of red food coloring.  No need to swirl it into the froth -- forming the cookies will do that work for you and make pretty stripes.

Forming the cookies is easy.  You can simply scoop up lumps with a soup spoon, and push the froth onto the prepared cookie sheet with another spoon, OR you can go all Julia Child and use a pastry bag.  This can be as simple as a plastic food storage bag with a corner snipped off or it can be a real pastry bag outfitted with a metal tip.  Squeeze out the meringue into whatever shapes you want ... and into the oven they go.  You can space them closely together, as they don't really spread much.

Set your timer for 30 minutes, and go do something fun.  Come back and peek -- the meringues should have gone past a completely glossy phase to a "YIKES they're looking a little wrinkly!" phase, and that's when they are done. 
Take 'em out, let them cool, peel them off the foil or paper, and you have made meringues.

Unlike traditional meringues, they are not dry all the way through.  The outer shell is crispy and crackly, but inside is chewy and stick-to-your-molars good.  In my experience, kids love these.

I've seen recipes for these cookies done low carb.  I will report back to you on those.

Phew!  All that baking has tuckered me out.
More recipes tomorrow,
when we shall make beautiful music together and make a batch of Romance Cookies.
Til then . . . Merry Christmas-ing!  -- Cass

Sherry at No Minimalist Here is hosting Open House Thursday. Click here!


  1. Cass,
    Lovely blog. Your tree is gorgeous. I like a lot more cream chees on the bagel though. Recipes sound wonderful. Happy holidays my friend.

  2. Unfortunately, Cass, I could eat those meringue cookies forever! TY for sharing your other recipes. Darling pooch!

    Merry Christmas
    TTFN ~

  3. I can't eat the cookies but surely I do enjoy looking at the pictures! Your tree is so cool!! love it! Yes, you have a very smart son-in-law and tell him I said so........also your daughter is smart for still having pj's on at 11--I love it!

  4. Those bagels sure look good. Your tree is lovely. I'll be baking your meringue cookies, thanks for the recipe!

  5. Cass,
    Thanks for the Vermont Crackles recipe! I am DEFINITELY going to make it tonight or tomorrow!

  6. Cass~
    those iced oatmeal cookies are lovely! Your tree is blinged out perfectly. :)

  7. Oh Cass, that line about Howard and Work just about made me incontinent. Yes, buy ornaments after Christmas when they go on sale though lovey. I am being virtually un-holiday like and not baking except for one lone pound cake. I just decided I had no time for all that and my jeans are tight already. Have a happy Christmas. ♥Olive

  8. What a lovely breakfast...a little sweetness is never to early in the day!

    Your tree is lovely! I bet you decorate the back of it, too! ;-D

    Thanks for the yummy cookie recipes. I have already made your brownie mix one!


  9. Love the picture of your sweet Cavalier! Aren't they the sweetest dogs in the whole world? We have two, Bentley and Clarabel. They make me smile every day!!

    Merry Christmas!


  10. Whew! Busy busy!

    Take it easy.


  11. Hi Cass!
    Your cookie baking has me salivating...and so do those bagels!! Thanks for sharing the recipes, esp. the Vermont Crackle one. I didn't know that about mace, either. I learn so much from blogging.

    I wanted to tell you that I'm no longer getting your postings via email. I have NO idea what happened. I didn't change anything. I tried to re-sign up but it keeps telling me I'm ALREADY signed up. *sigh* I've looked & looked for a way to correct this. Sorry to be such a pain but I sure did enjoy reading all your adventures. I'll keep looking for a solution.

    ~~Back to the gift wrapping~~

  12. mmm... I love cloud cookies, they are one of my favorites. You tree is beautiful. I don't think it is possible to have too many ornaments on a tree.

  13. Everything is looking beautiful and delicious around your home. The goodies look yummy and your tree is GORGEOUS! Don't forget your Herring.....

    Merry Christmas
    The French Hutch

  14. I tried your crackle cookies and they were wonderful! My son thought they tasted like brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts and, believe me, that's high praise from that boy. I really enjoy your blog -- although I now live in Virginia, I'm a native of NJ (Edison & River Vale) and am heading to my mother's in Skillman for Christmas. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday -- keep up the great work!


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