'Tis the season to bake holiday cookies

November 28, 2012 

Preheat the oven and line those cookie sheets, it's time to bake.

Below are two of my favorite holiday cookie recipes. I love them because they're quick, less than 45 minutes from first mix to first bite, and they're easy to personalize. For the Cherry Chocolate Chippers, bakers can use cashews, almonds or peanuts instead of the pistachios and the semisweet chocolate chips can easily be replaced with white chocolate chips.

In the popular Peanut Butter Blossoms recipes, courtesy of Hershey's, experiment with the variety of Hersey's Kisses available. I loved these cookies with the caramel filled Hershey Kisses and the Hersey Kisses with almonds.

Cherry Chocolate Chippers

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar and brown sugar and beat until blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended. Gently fold in dried cherries, chocolate chips and pistachios.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto prepared sheets. Leave about2 inches between each spoonful of dough.

Bake cookies until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus some for rolling

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

48 Hersey's Kisses, unwrapped (see note)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a standing mixer, cream together shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to peanut butter mixture. Beat on low until stiff dough forms.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place balls on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and press a chocolate piece into each cookie. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Note: I only need 35 and 40 candy pieces because my dough never quite stretches to 48 cookies.

Dawn Minty can be reached at 706-571-8512.

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