Making Yule Cookies with Intention

In my attempt to put intention into everything holiday instead of just going through the motions of baking all day. I chose to put on a pot (it’s a cauldron – I love them and have quite a few) with oranges (love, happiness and creativity), cloves (to ward against negative energy) and cinnamon (healing, love, protection). I lit a candle I made and put on my iTunes holiday playlist. Now that the scene is set, lets get baking.

I love to use the same cookie dough base and change it up. I have a really good chocolate chip dough that I started using when I was a kid baking with my Memaw, Pat Moyer. Her recipe was the recipe on the Nestle chocolate chip bag. I’ve tweaked it over the years. You’ll notice I use coarse kosher salt. I think it makes a huge difference. You actually taste a hint of the salt with each bite. I don’t even have regular table salt in the house. I use the coarse salt for everything.

My Basic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick of butter flavored Crisco (1 cup)
1 cup brown sugar – packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (or 2)
1/2 bag of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with a silpat
  • In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer cream the Crisco and the sugars until smooth
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until well combined
  • Stir in the chocolate chips
  • Put spoonfuls of dough on the sheet, 12 per sheet
  • Bake 12 minutes at 375. They should be lightly golden brown.
  • Let cool at least a minute then move to a rack to cool completely.

My Basic Shortbread Cookie Recipe

3 sticks unsalted butter; room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

  • Preheat over to 350 and line a cookie sheet with a silpat
  • Cream butter and sugar until combined and add vanilla
  • Combine the flour and salt then add to the butter and sugar mixture
  • Mix until it forms a ball; turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a log
  • Wrap the log into piece of parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • Slice pieces of dough and place 12 on the cookie sheet
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 until lightly golden on just the edges

Ginger Molasses Cookie Recipe

3/4 stick of butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/4 cup course raw sugar

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

  • Preheat oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper
  • Cream the Crisco and the sugar
  • Add the egg and molasses; beat until well blended
  • Combine the flour, baking soda, all the spices and the salt
  • Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until blended
  • Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper and form into a disk
  • Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour
  • Roll dough into balls and then into the coarse raw sugar and place on prepared sheet
  • Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes
  • Let cool before removing from the pan

Now for the Tweaking

I almost always add 2 tablespoons of instant coffee to my chocolate chip cookies.
For the shortbread cookies I almost always add something on top, sprinkles that can be baked or coarse sugar to give them texture.

For the cookies this time here’s what I did.

Starting at the bottom of the plate with the green, white and red nonpareil cookies –

Brown Sugar Shortbread with holiday nonpareils | subbed the white sugar for packed brown sugar and added the nonpareils before baking.

Ginger Molasses Cookies | used white coarse decorating sugar to roll them in instead of raw just to give them a little extra sparkle.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies | added the 2 teaspoons of instant coffee to the flour mixture.

Figgy Pudding Bars | Every year I try to figure out a way to make fruitcake (our version of figgy pudding) something enjoyable. I’ve tried adding citrus, dried fruits and nuts to pound cake. It was ok. And tried adding the same to shortbread cookies but it was too much in the somewhat dry cookie. This year I converted my chocolate chip cookie to a bar. I like this version the best so far.
Same chocolate chip cookie recipe, replaced chocolate chips with orange zest and orange extract, dried chopped figs, cherries, apricots, and golden raisins, and chopped pistachios. Spread in a pan lined with parchment and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.