By Jen Ashenfelter
It is “that” time of the holiday season. Do or die. Make or break. Crunch time. Not exactly D Day, but B Day. Yes, I’m talking about Baking Day and filling the cookie jars. If you haven’t spent a few hours baking Christmas cookies yet, you definitely need to make the time, now! And I have to confess, I just found time this week. Whew. Good thing–I needed a cookie fix!
My last post was about having a child with food allergies. Depending on what food the child is allergic or sensitive to, this can present challenges during special holidays. A peanut or tree nut allergy is always a concern but it can be a bit more tricky at Halloween and Easter. Try taking half of a 5 year old’s candy away from him after an hour of trick-or-treating. And then there are the trays of beautiful Christmas cookies–next to a pillowcase full of candy, what child can resist? Nearly every cookie recipe calls for an egg and most are chocked full of nuts. So what does a mother do? She sets out on a quest to find sweet treats and holiday traditions that will leave no family member feeling left out of the eating frenzy.
Luckily, there are two cookie recipes from my childhood that keep the baked Christmas tradition alive: Spiced Shortbreads and Little Raisin Logs. Neither use eggs or nuts and both are delicious. If your child has a dairy allergy, then you might try making them with alternatives to butter and milk chocolate.
Preheat oven to 300.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp brown sugar (For regular shortbread, use regular sugar and omit the spices.)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
* In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and spices. Using a pastry cutter (or a food processor), cut in butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Form the mixture into a ball and knead until smooth.
* To make shortbread rounds, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/2″ thick. Use a cookie cutter (or the top of a small glass) to cut rounds. Place them 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Knead the remaining dough and repeat until there’s not enough dough left. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with colored sugar immediately after removing from the oven.
If you’ve never made shortbread cookies or, like me, you’re the farthest thing from a Martha Stewart baking champ, consider yourself warned…a lot more work goes into them compared to making chocolate chip cookies. But to me, it’s worth the effort to make my little guy happy with a special Christmastime treat.
Little Raisin Logs
Preheat oven to 325.
1 cup raisins
(1 cup pecans – obviously I omit these but if you don’t have a nut allergy, then you may want to add these in.)
1 cup butter or soft margarine
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp brandy
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg (6oz) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
3 tbsp shortening
* Finely chop raisins (and pecans). In a large bowl, thoroughly blend butter and sugar. Beat in brandy, vanilla and salt. Stir in raisins, nuts and flour.
* On a lightly floured board, take a small spoonful of dough and roll into a log shape about 1/2″ in diameter and 2 1/2″ long. Bake on an ungreased pan/sheet for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool.
* Meanwhile, melt chocolate and shortening in a bowl over boiling water. (I set one of my metal mixing bowls over a medium saucepan.) Blend thoroughly. When the cookies have cooled, dip one end into the melted chocolate. Place on a wire rack to set. Depending on the size of the logs, makes 4 or 5 dozen.
I also have a few recipes for layered magic bars that don’t use eggs or nuts either. I’m happy to share those recipes too–leave a note asking for the recipe and I’ll gladly post or send you an email. If you decide to try these recipes, I’d love to hear your feedback. And if you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe that doesn’t use eggs or nuts, please share! Enjoy…