COOKIES and CHRISTMAS!
I bet you thought I was going to say The Cancer, didn’t you? Give me a break. I’m not that predictable. Okay, okay, you’re right. The Cancer would’ve been a really good guess. Or the Cubs. I’ve covered both topics ad nauseam over the last 14 months. But this post is going to free of The Cancer and Cubs talk … today we’re all about CHRISTMAS and COOKIES.
First, I need to get this out of the way. If you are one of those people who puts out Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I only have one thing to say: GET OUT OF HERE, YOU MONSTER. I’m not joking. Listen, I love, love, love Christmastime. The decorations, the joy, the music and even the snow! But I absolutely, 100%, deep in my soul HATE when they appear any earlier than the day after Turkey Day. Part of the magic of Christmas is waiting for it … SO STOP JUMPING THE GUN PEOPLE. Now that I’ve gotten that off of my one boobed chest (did you seriously think I’d get through an entire post without a boob reference?), let’s get down to it.
While Christmas carols started filling my car on November 25th, I truly got into the spirit last weekend. On Saturday, Casey and I made Christmas history by buying a real tree. Why is this so momentous? Well, first I haven’t had a real Christmas tree since since I was 3 years old. The Barnhart house had some bad allergies in ’80s and the outdoorsy wonders of a live pine didn’t help. Luckily, I’ve long outgrown those but for some reason this year is the first time my heart has been set on a live tree.
Another reason why this is such a big deal? Casey is a GRINCH. Seriously, paint him green and call Wrigley Max because my husband is the grumpiest when it comes to any sort of holiday cheer. The fact I convinced him via my stellar legal reasoning (aka whining with a little sprinkle of nagging and a dash of cancer card) to get a live tree is a HUGE win. And, of course, he loved it … I mean check out just how excited he was after helping the kind gentleman at the random tree place strap this fine Indiana specimen to our moon roof:
Despite Casey’s ‘tude, we have a beautiful – although Pisa-like – Christmas tree. Once I threw on our treasured bubble lights, I was a happy girl.
After we were done with the tree, I moved on to the cookies for our Ladies Who Learn cookies exchange. What is Ladies Who Learn? Well, I could fill an entire post on this topic but the Cliffsnotes version is it’s a group of wonderful, smart, and talented friends who teach each other a skill they’re good at – like Southern etiquette, digital identity, rowing, farming, hostessing, champagne drinking, and bread making (just to make a few). This month Kim and Libby hosted a cookie exchange and wine tasting … you know, the traditional French pairing.
Although I never need one, the cookie exchange was the perfect excuse to bake up a storm. I decided to go with two classics and a new recipe. The classics? Grandma Onie cookies, which are her chocolate chip cookie dough with a butter icing instead of the chips, and Ingersoll cookies, which most people call monster cookies. The new recipe? A shortbread thumbprint filled with either Nutella or dulce de leche and sprinkled with sea salt.
Verdict? All were delicious, if I do say so myself. I highly recommend trying one or more of these for your holiday cookie exchange. They’re so good they may even make
Casey’s a Grinch’s heart grow three sizes!
Grandma Onie Cookies
I think this is the first time I’ve shared this recipe. Normally, I’m all about sharing but these cookies? These are special. They are my FAVORITE COOKIE EVER, 50% due to taste and 50% due to the memories they hold. I’ve made these more times than I can count (including for all of our out of town guests at our wedding) and they’re always a crowdpleaser. I promise you will love them too. They hold Grandma Onie’s magic.
- 1 cup shortening – I used the butter flavored Crisco sticks (I didn’t say these were healthy.)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cream together shortening and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.
- Sift together flour, salt and baking soda.
- Slowly add sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. DO NOT OVER MIX.
- Chill in the refrigerator (I usually give them about 30 minutes or so).
- Drop heaped spoons of dough onto a cookie sheet. (I usually flatten them just a touch.)
- Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
- Allow to cool on racks while you make the frosting.
- Once cooled, frost and enjoy! (If you leave them out for a bit, the frosting will harden and then you can stack them.)
I really don’t have a recipe per say for butter frosting. But you basically mix together a half or three-quarters stick of softened butter, a tablespoon or so of milk, a splash of vanilla and then enough powdered sugar until it gets to frosting consistency. Whip it good and then make sure the frosting “stands” (aka doesn’t drip) when you pull out a little on a spoon. You may have to add milk and/or powdered sugar as you go. This frosting is delicious on cinnamon rolls and other types of treats. My grandma always used to make extra and we would eat it with graham crackers. Yum. 🙂
Like I said, most normal families call these monster cookies. But we always called them Ingersoll cookies because at some point in the early 90s my grandma got this recipe from the cook at Ingersoll Middle School in my hometown (hence why the original version of this recipe starts with TWELVE eggs). In my opinion, they are the perfect combination of salty and sweet.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1/4 lb of butter
- 12 oz peanut butter (chunky or smooth, your preference. I’m a smooth girl myself)
- 4 1/2 cups quick oats
- 1/2 cup M&Ms (if you accidentally spill more M&Ms in, it’s okay. Trust me on this one.)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (if you accidentally spill more chocolate chips in, it’s also okay. Trust me again.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together ingredients in the order listed. (I use a mixer until I get to the M&Ms and chocolate chips. Then I go in by hand. I won’t judge if you count mixing at this point as your workout for the day.)
- Place heaping tablespoons on a large greased cookie sheet (I also have used parchment paper) and flatten out a little bit. It’s suggested you only put 6 per sheet due to spreading … they are MONSTER cookies after all.
- Bake 10-12 minutes.
Even though these are new, I definitely plan to keep them in the rotation. I’m partial to the Nutella filled because, duh, Nutella. But the dulce de leche ones were fabulous too, especially with that sprinkle of salt.
Ingredients (Note: The ingredients amounts below are for 4 dozen cookies. When I made them, I halved it and had plenty.)
- 4 sticks of unsalted butter (1 lb) at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups of sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 13 ounce can Nestle La Lechera, Dulce de Leche (caramel)
- 1 small jar Nutella
- Course sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
- Scrape the bowl down with a spatula.
- Add the flour a little at a time, until it is just combined.
- Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1 oz. balls—about 1 ½ tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indention in each cookie, with your thumb. Press any cracks back into place.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes. It may look like the craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they’ll be back! (If not, you can kind of push them down, which is what I did).
- After the cookies have cooled, slightly warm the dulce de leche and nutella in separate bowls.
- Fill the center of half of the cookies with Nutella and the other half with dulce de leche. (I used a spoon and it worked fine. The original recipe calls for a piping bag but that felt like way too much trouble.)
- When the centers have cooled slightly, sprinkle with the sea salt.