|Photo from Country Woman magazine|
Instead of combining baked goods with "gifts in a jar" this year, I am giving a few items that require baking or preparing somewhat in the last few days before the gift giving. But most can be made ahead. I can bake the mini loaves of cranberry orange and pumpkin chocolate chip bread ahead of time and pull out of the freezer shortly before assembling the basket (the mini loaves of cranberry orange bread are already in the freezer).
However, beginning this weekend, I'm making the shortbread dough for the freezer to save time during Christmas week. It needs to be prepared one batch at a time since it will be baked in a mold but that is very easy. Each batch goes together quickly and can be made one after the other in the Kitchen Aid mixer. I will freeze each batch separately and then a day or two before assembling the basket, I will bake them (defrosting the dough in the frig overnight).
Last year I baked a few of the batches in the Christmas mold but a couple batches were simply rolled out and cut with a round cookie cutter. I sprinkled them with course sugar before baking and they were a big it. This is a way to stretch the shortbread to feed more people since they are thinner cookies and make more. The cookies baked in the mold are much thicker.
The two "maybes" on the list include the Christmas Jam recipe (photo from Country Woman as I have forgotten to take a photo before) and madeleines. I've collected madeleine pans through the years (I think I have one for regular size cookies and two for miniatures... or is it the other way around?). We'll see if there is enough time for those to be added, although it would be lovely.
Below are links to some of my favorite Christmas recipes and then my favorite shortbread recipe (with a variation) is included here. It needs to be added to the recipe blog. ;)
Christmas Jam... here.
Candied Cranberries... here.
Cranberry Bread and Pumpkin Bread... here.
Rachel Ray's Fudge... here.
Beverly Nye's Candy... here.
|Cookies made from my mold last year.|
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup flour (unsifted)
Cream the butter until it is light. Mix in the powdered sugar and the grated lemon peel. Slowly work in the flour. Knead the dough on unfloured board until nice and smooth.
If baking in a mold, spray the mold lightly with a veggie oil spray. Press the dough into the shortbread pan firmly. Prick the entire surface with a fork, and bake the shortbread right in the pan at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until just lightly browned.
Let the shortbread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before loosening the edges with a knife and flip the pan over carefully. Cut the shortbread into serving pieces while it is still warm (or as I plan to do this year, leave it intact for the design and let the recipients just break off pieces of the cookie later).
Shortbread cookies can also be made by rolling out the dough, cutting with a small cookie cutter, and baking at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
Another version of shortbread can be made with the following ingredients, baking as per instructions above:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (unsifted)
Both versions of shortbread are recipes from Brown Bag Cookie Art and came with the shortbread mold.