Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Traditions: Fun with Cookies!

These are my absolute favorite cookies!  I made some today and realized when it was time to add the flour that I only had a little all-purpose flour left.  So I used half wheat and half all-purpose.  They turned out sooo good!  In fact everyone said they liked them better.  I think they taste better a little thicker, so I only make a dozen/recipe.  Spook someone with this Trick or Treat Family Home Evening idea!

Autumn Owl Cookies
1 c. packed brown sugar
1-1/2 sticks butter, no substitutes
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1-oz square unsweetened chocolate
1/4 tsp baking soda
Reece's Pieces
whole cashews
In a mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and softened butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture.  Remove two-thirds of the dough; roll into an 8-inch square on waxed paper and set aside.  Combine chocolate and baking soda until thoroughly blended; beat into remaining dough.  Shape into an 8-inch-long roll; place on edge of white dough.  Wrap white dough around roll and pinch seam together.  Wrap in waxed paper; chill for at least 2 hours.  

Cut into 1/4-inch slices.  To form owl's face, place two slices side-by-side on a lightly greased baking sheet (I like parchment paper on my baking sheet instead of greased).  

Pinch dough at the top of the circles to form ears.  Place Reece's Pieces in the center of each circle for eyes.  Place a cashew in the center of the face for the beak.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Yield:  about 1-1/2 dozen.  (From Taste of Home's Halloween Food and Fun)

October through December, we enjoy Baking Days which includes these chocolaty cookies my son loves and which we like to mail to missionary friends:

Kitty Cookies
1 c. butter (no substitutes), softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 t. vanilla extract
3 c. self-rising flour
1 c. baking cocoa
candy corn and red-hots

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Combine self-rising flour and cocoa in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture.  Roll dough into 1-1/2-in. balls.  Place 3 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets.  Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar.  Pinch top of cookie to form ears.  

For whiskers, press a fork twice into each cookie.  Bake 350 degrees F. for 10-15 min. or until cookies are set.  Remove from oven and immediately press on candy corn for eyes and red-hots for noses.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Yield: 2 dozen (From Taste of Home's Halloween Food and Fun, p. 14).

Here are some tips I found in the magazine, Quick Cooking, on packaging cookies: 
~When choosing recipes, look for bars, drop cookies, slice-an-bake cookies and sandwich cookies, which are fairly sturdy and less likely to break when shipped.
~Avoid delicate cutout and shaped cookies, which may break; chocolate, since it will melt easily; and items with perishable frostings or fillings.
~When packaging the goodies, wrap bars individually in plastic wrap.  Drop cookies can be bundled back-to-back in packages of two.  Slice-and-bake and sandwich cookies can be wrapped in plastic wrap in bundles of two or three.
~Pack soft cookies in containers or tins separate from crisp cookies.  If packed together, the moisture from the soft cookies will make the crisp cookies lose their crunch. 
~To help retain the best flavor, don't pack strong-flavored cookies like gingersnaps in the same container with mild-flavored ones like sugar cookies. 
~Line the containers with crumpled waxed paper to help cushion the cookies.  Snugly pack the cookies to within 1 in. of the top.  Use crumpled waxed paper or bubble wrap to fill any gaps between the cookies.  Add more waxed paper or bubble wrap over the last layer to cushion the cookies and prevent shifting during shipping. OR
Place pieces of wax paper between cookie layers and add mini marshmallows to make sure cookies don't move around.  Tuck in a couple packages of cocoa for a great gift! (from Gooseberry Patches' Country Quick and Easy Cookbook).
~Place a layer of crumpled paper, bubble wrap or foam shipping peanuts in the bottom of a sturdy corrgated box that is slightly larger than your cookie container.  Set the container on top; then add more paper, bubble wrap or shipping peanuts.

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