One of the most highly anticipated holiday traditions in many households is the making and baking of Christmas cookies. From holiday-themed sugar cookies, to other goodies like seven-layer bars, these decadent treats are consumed gleefully by the handful. Since handmade goes right along with the Christmas spirit, you can make Christmas cookies for your family to eat, or you can even wrap them in colorful holiday tins or jars and give them as gifts.
Long before the first snow hits the ground, iced confections in the shapes of Santas, Christmas trees, stockings and reindeer start making their rounds. These brightly decorated delights are typically sugar cookies. Sugar cookie dough is perfect for cookie cutters because it retains its shape nicely, and their smooth tops make them ideal candidates for decorating. Gingerbread cookies are also tasty holiday treats that can be cut into different shapes, although little gingerbread men seem to run rampant around Christmas. Both recipes require rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes before baking, which is a fun project for the family. But you'd better make extra if you want to save some for Santa.
Once your cookies come out of the oven, your Christmas angel will need a sweet face, and Rudolph needs his red nose. This is where a good dose of creativity comes in. You can whip up a tasty buttercream frosting to cover the cookie and use candy to create the details. Frosty the Snowman looks great with chocolate chip eyes. Or, if you want to decorate like a pro, you might want to make a batch of royal icing, which is a combination of confectioner's sugar and meringue powder that's painted on the top of the cookie and creates a hard, smooth finish. If you want to get super crafty, you can buy a basic decorator's kit and pipe on buttercream frosting details. They may actually look too good to eat!
No-bake cookies are so simple to make -- all you really need to be able to do is melt chocolate. A double boiler is preferable because chocolate burns easily. You can also use the microwave as long as you cook on a low setting with lots of stirring throughout. Buckeyes are a rich concoction of melted chocolate wrapped around a peanut butter mixture that's about the consistency of a Reese's peanut butter cup. These one-bite delights work with white, milk or dark chocolate as the coating. Another melt and pour cookie variety that makes frequent appearances during the holidays is called a haystack. These aptly named treats are simply a pile of chow mein noodles dipped in melted butterscotch chips. You can also substitute other kinds of chocolate for butterscotch. Another simple and delicious no-bake cookie consists of a layer of peanut butter sandwiched between two Ritz crackers, dipped in chocolate. It's the perfect combination of sweet and salty, so if that's your thing, good luck eating just one.