Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Hearts

Christmas baking has always been a big part of our family holiday traditions. Growing up, my mom, sister, and I would spend several days baking Christmas goodies each year. Cut-out cookies were always an all-afternoon project. I think the decorating was just as much fun as the eating! My mom also made the world's best fudge and divinity (okay, I may be somewhat bias) and each Christmas my sister, brother, and I would prepare goody boxes for our school teachers, school bus drivers, and Sunday School teachers. The mailman found a box in our mailbox too.

When Sara and Michael were very young, I was asked if I would be interested in selling home-baked Christmas cookies to my sister-in-laws co-workers. Making some extra holiday shopping dollars while doing something I enjoy seemed like a great opportunity. Making 10 kinds of cookies became a whole-family activity. Sara became the expert at Russian Tea Cakes. Michael rolled the balls for the sugar cookies. John always helped with the date balls. My mom and I spent a day rolling the dough for the gingerbread people! The first year of cookie sales, we sold 79 dozen cookies, enough profit to buy a new front door for our house. Fifteen years later, we topped off our sales at 652 dozen (that's 7,824 cookies)! We no longer have our cookie business, but we will always have the "sweet" memories.

A sampler of our 10 varieties of Christmas cookies.
 Of course, being dairy farmers, butter made its way into nearly every cookie recipe! Dairy farmer, or not- there is nothing better than the flavor of butter in baked goods. I'm sure Santa would agree, and who knows Christmas cookies better than Santa?

One of my family's favorite recipes is Mint Brownies. These fudgey squares of goodness, topped with mint, and more chocolate deliciousness spread on top, appear at our house all throughout the year. Something this good can't just be baked at holiday time!

Mint Brownies

 1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, optional
1 cup chocolate syrup (I use Hershey's)
Mix well. Pour into 11x14 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
 3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/8 tsp green food coloring
3 tsp milk
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
Mix well. Add more milk if frosting is too thick. Spread on cooled brownies.
Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 9 tablespoons butter in microwave. Stir until smooth. Pour over frosted brownies immediately.

Makes 4 1/2 dozen.

Do you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe?

Since Christmas is the season of giving, I'd like to introduce you to some of my fellow dairy bloggers. They have some amazing #DairyChristmas recipes and stories to share. 

  • #DairyChristmas: Peanut Butter Balls by Messy Kennedy
  • Winter Iowa Corn Chowder (as featured on Cheeserank) by Little House on the Dairy
  • #DairyChristmas Farm Barbie
  • The best Christmas cookies in the world by Truth or Dairy
  • Recipes for a Dairy Christmas by Cow Spots and Tales
  • #DairyChristmas: Cherry Mint Sugar Cookies by Kimmi's Dairyland
  • Perfect for a Party – Cheddar Olive Bites by DairyCarrie
  • Dairy Christmas Traditions by Knolltop Farm Wife
  • #DairyChristmas: Love and Latkes by New Moon Dairy
  • Family at the Table by The Deere Milkmaid
  • French Onion Soup – Our Family Christmas Tradition by Eat Farm Love
  • Dairy Delight by Spotted Cow Review
  • Christmas Cookies and Holiday Hearts by My Barnyard View
  • Italian Soup by So She Married A Farmer
  • Christmas Tapioca Pudding by Guernsey Dairy Mama
  • #DairyChristmas: Festive Parmesan Frico by Dairy Good Life
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