Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Cookies aren’t just for Santa

Layer your cookie mix ingredients in a jar for an inexpensive and much-appreciated holiday gift

When doing your Christmas baking

When doing your Christmas baking

Here we are in a race to Christmas and many of us still have little gifts yet to find for people like teachers, maybe a special neighbour, perhaps for a pastor or music director, and let’s not forget the milk man. Oops! that came from the far recesses of my past when every Christmas my mother would wrap a flat, blue tin of Players cigarettes to place outside with the milk bottles for him to find in the morning.

It reminds me of simpler times when the eight of us kids pulled names and made something for the sibling whose name we got. As we grew older and had part-time jobs, we could actually buy something from a store, but until then the boys got good at making candy and cookies and we girls could sew or knit something special. On reflection, I guess my poor mom had her hands full teaching us these skills.

There is still time to bake up some delicious treats to wrap in pretty boxes, tins, bags or jars, and today’s recipes are simple and perfect for last-minute hostess gifts too. The first two are cookies in a jar, a novel gift for people who love a simple and fresh treat. And the butter pecan crescents that melt in the mouth are delicious.

On a personal note, I want to thank my editorial staff at The Morning Star for their patience and help during this past year, and to my readers and staff, I wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy 2017.

Cranberry Winter Cookies in a Jar

What you will need for the jar:

Card stock (for cookie name and instructions)

1 quart Mason Jar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans (nut-free option: 1/2 cup rolled oats, rice crisp cereal or granola)

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Layer all the ingredients in a 1 quart mason jar in the order listed.

Print Cranberry Winter Cookies on card stock and cut out.

Attach the following recipe instructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until fluffy.

Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together until well-blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

Santa’s Cookies in a Jar

What you will need for the tags:

Card stock (for cookie name and instructions)

What you will need for the jar:

1 quart Mason Jar

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup M&Ms

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1/4 – 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (depends on if you have room)

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Layer all the ingredients in a 1 quart mason jar in the order listed. Press down after each addition.

Print the following on card stock and cut out: Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla until fluffy.

Add the entire jar of cookie mix, stirring until well-blended. Roll cookie dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges start to turn brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks. Makes 24 cookies

Attach recipe name and instructions to front and back of jar with glue dots.

Butter Pecan Crescent Cookies

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup toasted pecans

3/4 cup icing sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup Skor bits

Icing sugar, for dusting

Position oven racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Preheat to 350 F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

Stir flour with salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whirl pecans with icing sugar in a food processor until very finely ground.

Beat butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium, until fluffy. Beat in pecan mixture, then vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture until dough comes together. Stir in Skor bits. Knead until combined.

Pinch off heaping tablespoons of dough and roll between palms of hands to form 2-1/2-in. logs. Shape into crescents and arrange on prepared sheets, tapering ends. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, switching and rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are just brown at the edges, 15 to 20 min. Let cookies cool on sheets 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely, 15 min.

Dust with icing sugar. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.