Making cookie gift boxes is a challenge. I have to choose cookies that will package well. That means no soft cookies that will stick together or frosted cookies that need lots of room to keep their neat appearance. I don't include elaborately decorated cookies with royal icing because I want cookies that will be moist and delicious with every bite. Just like wedding cakes. The beautiful royal icing and fondants are lovely to look at but not the most delightful to eat. I choose flavor over fancy.
I give careful thought to the selection of cookies too, trying to give a variety of flavors. This box contains the must-have holiday chocolate and nuts, but also mint, lemon, cranberry, dates, caramel and cream cheese. I try to make cookies that are both nostalgic and uncommon enough that they won't be appearing on every other cookie plate available at the party. This year there isn't as much variety in the shapes of the cookies as I have done in previous years simply because I didn't do any rolled and cut varieties.
The cookie selection is turtle brownies, date pinwheels, chocolate mint snow caps, lemon cream cheese wreaths and cranberry pecan noels.
The cranberry pecan noels have been included every year in these Christmas cookie boxes because it meets all my criteria for flavor, packaging ease and holiday appeal. I thought I'd share with you how I make them.
These are actually a Martha Stewart cookie recipe. I'll let you get the ingredients list at the link. I can always count on Martha to have well-tested recipes that work every time. I find myself tweaking a lot of the recipes too with good results.
The predominant flavor of this cookie is butter so it is vitally important to use the best tasting, quality butter. Of course I say this about everything I bake. Especially pie crust. Cakes too. So when do you not use best quality butter. Um.....never. And please, only real vanilla. Again, the best flavored cookies are made with the best flavored ingredients.
I'm a snob and not ashamed to say it.
Using soft butter and white sugar, beat them until they are fluffy. Walk away from the mixer and fold laundry or something. Come back five minutes later and find sweet fluffy goodness. Beating the butter and sugar to this extent will give your cookies a more tender crumb with the sugar thoroughly dissolved.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients as directed. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap.
Shape the dough into a log and then wrap in the plastic. Continue to roll the plastic-wrapped dough to get all the bumps out for a nice smooth log that will yield nice round cookies.
Each one of these is one recipe. I don't divide the dough as the recipe instructs and don't find it too big to handle. Refrigerate the log for several hours or overnight until firm.
Slicing the log with a serrated knife leaves the cookie with nice color from the cranberries and nuts.
These cookies are so easy! Just lay them out on a cookie sheet to bake.