Baked Goodies Sweeten Up The Holidays

May 01 00:00 2001 Print This Article

There's no time like the holiday season to shower friends and family with specially prepared cookies, sweets and other gifts from the hearth. Whether it's butternut fudge, butter brickle or freshly baked cinnamon buns, home-baked treats add flavor and fun to holiday gift giving.

"Baking a gift is an easy and delicious way to tell someone you care," said Chef Mary Bergin, head pastry chef of the star-studded Spago restaurants and American Dairy Association (ADA) holiday spokesperson. "The important thing is to make each gift personal and from the heart. The ADA's new recipe leaflet, Butter Brings the World to Your Holiday Table, is full of great recipes-perfect for gift giving."

Following are some simple ideas to help you create baked treats that look and taste special:

  • To ensure the quality of your edible gifts, always use the finest ingredients like real butter.

  • Start with a basic butter cookie recipe that can be adapted to fit your gift-giving needs. (See box for Chef Mary Bergin's Best-Ever Butter Cookies).

  • Bake a batch of Best-Ever Butter Cookie "pretzels" and put them in a giant mug wrapped with a decorative spoon and a few packets of gourmet hot chocolate. To make pretzel cookies, take golf ball-sized pieces of butter cookie dough and roll each into a slender cord. Twist each cord into a pretzel shape, sprinkle with sugar crystals and bake according to the recipe.

  • For a special Hanukkah treat, use a cookie cutter to press out Best-Ever Butter Cookies shaped like dreidels and stars, sprinkling them with gold and blue sugar crystals. After baking, place a few cookies in small netted gift pouches and tie metallic blue and gold ribbons around the top to secure-perfect for the little ones!

  • Cut out Christmas tree-shaped butter cookies, sprinkle with green sugar crystals and top with miniature candy fruit gels. Cool after baking. Place Christmas tree cookies in a basket on top of pine sprigs and top with a few tree ornaments. Wrap the basket of goodies in colored cellophane and tie with ribbons and another ornament.

  • Lay out a fresh batch of thumbprint butter cookies on a cookie sheet and place special chocolate candies, like mini-peanut butter cups, in the "dent" of the cookies. Soak thin bamboo skewers in water for 20 to 30 minutes to prevent burning during baking. Stick one skewer into the side of each unbaked cookie-like a lollipop-and bake. After cooling, arrange "cookie bouquet" in a vase.

  • Knead love and fond memories into a batch of butter-rich pecan caramel rolls or coffee cake for a holiday breakfast treat. Simply arrange buttery rolls in a round, decorative tin, garnish with sprigs of pine and cranberries, and you've made someone's Christmas morning complete!

  • Package baked goods within another gift to add to the holiday magic. For example, a new book bag, briefcase or fanny pack stuffed with all sorts of delicious holiday treats is a perfect combination for the student on your gift list.

  • Make up gift baskets based on your family's traditional or cultural favorites. Buttery Scottish shortbread with jars of jams and boxes of tea, Greek honey-butter crisp Baklava and dried fruits, or Italian anise biscotti and flavored butter offer a world of possibilities!

Best-Ever Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Colored decorating sugar or other holiday toppings

Directions

  1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and egg yolk with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in flour. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour or up to 2 days. During this time, the flavors blend and develop, bringing out the buttery flavor of the dough.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on lightly-floured surface to 18-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using holiday cookie cutters. Place on lightly-greased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with decorating sugar or other toppings. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 312 dozen cookies.


Source: NAPSI / American Dairy Association

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