Never mind the tree, the gifts, the carols — for many of us, the holidays are all about cookies.
The Beacon Journal has published hundreds of cookie recipes over the years, on the Food page and in special sections. We've featured treats from local bakers and chefs, from institutions like Stan Hywet Hall and Quaker Square, from our archives and from our readers. We hope you've made them family favorites in your house.
Maybe you're looking for a new treat to add to your repertoire. Or someone accidentally threw out a well-used, Crisco-stained clipping. So just in time for the season, we've gathered dozens of cookie recipes here.
To get your mouths watering, we're sharing three much-loved recipes in print today: Stan Hywet's gingerbread molasses cookies, Hyre Junior High School's peanut butter bars and clothespin cookies.
STAN HYWET'S GINGERBREAD MOLASSES COOKIES
2 cups light molasses
2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 tbsp. ground ginger
4 eggs, beaten
10 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch black pepper
1/2 cup cold coffee
In a saucepan, combine molasses, sugar, margarine, butter and ginger. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Cool to room temperature. Beat in eggs.
In a large bowl, sift together 3 cups of the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and pepper. Add molasses mixture. Stir in coffee. Stir in about 7 cups of flour, or enough to make a stiff dough.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll thick on a floured surface and cut into circles with cookie cutters. Bake on lightly greased baking sheets at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool.
If desired, frost with a thin powdered-sugar icing flavored with vanilla, lemon or orange.
Makes 100 3-inch cookies.
Note: Don't fear the large quantity — this recipe is easily halved to make a smaller batch.
HYRE JUNIOR HIGH PEANUT BUTTER BARS
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
Vanilla icing (recipe follows)
Beat together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in egg. Combine dry ingredients and mix into batter with hands. Spread evenly in buttered jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, ice. Cut into bars.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen bars.
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 stick (about 2 1/2 tbsp.) butter, softened
3/4 tsp. vanilla
Simple syrup (see note)
Combine sugar, salt, butter and vanilla. Add enough simple syrup to achieve spreading consistency.
Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Cook and stir 10 to 15 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Cool. (You may want to double the batch for thicker coverage.)
For the dough:
3 cups flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cup Crisco shortening
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 cup cold water
For the filling:
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. flour
1/2 lb. margarine, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
6 tbsp. marshmallow creme
2 cups powdered sugar
To make the dough, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup of the shortening as for pie dough, until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, vinegar and water; beat with a fork.
Add liquid mixture to flour mixture a little at a time, stirring until mixture forms a sticky dough. Wrap and chill 1 hour.
Roll dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread with one-third of the remaining Crisco. Fold dough in thirds letter-style, with the Crisco on the inside. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Repeat rolling, spreading, folding and chilling twice more, chilling at least 6 hours after final folding.
Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll each ball into a rectangle 1/8-inch thick. Cut into strips 1 inch wide and 5 to 6 inches long. Wrap strips loosely around round clothespins, overlapping the strips. Place on cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Remove clothespins.
To prepare filling, combine milk, granulated sugar and flour in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until very thick. Cool. Beat margarine, vanilla and marshmallow creme into mixture. Beat in powdered sugar.
To assemble: Spoon filling into a pastry tube. Squeeze filling from pastry tube into pastry rolls. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen.