If you are on my Christmas Cookie box delivery list then lucky you, and if you aren’t, you may want to start sending some bribes my way. I always accept bribes, usually in the form of compliments; I am a total compliment whore. Yeah, that’s right, I said it and my previous PG rating for Sweet and Crumby (S&C for those cool kids in the know) just went down the tubes. Sigh.
Here are a list of approved compliments that may get you on said list: “Your cookies are the best cookies I have ever had!” or “My life would not be complete if I didn’t receive some of your famous cookies this year.” or “I sat on Santa’s lap and put your cookies on the top of my list…wink wink”. Compliments that will get you off the list and immediately onto the “naughty list”are anything like, “Those cookies were good.” (said in a flat unimpressive manner), or worse, “I liked those cookies you made.” Liked? Really? How about, “Loved!” or “Enamored with!”.
My Christmas cookie delivery list has gotten larger, and every year it takes over more and more of my kitchen, my freezer and my cool white mini van that is used as my sleigh. I plan and start earlier every year, make double batches in freezable tubes daily for weeks stock piling hoards of them in both of my freezers.
Here is last year’s list of cookies: Double Chocolate Peppermint, Orange and Rosemary Chocolate Chip, Ginger Drop Cookies, Greek Crescent Cookies, Finnish Ribbon Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms and Cookie Dough Truffles. Whew. This year, I want to add Peppermint Cream Cheese Cookies, but what do I take out? I never seem to be able to take any out!
I have included a recipe today for these beautifully soft, spicy and addicting Ginger Cookies. They are mouthwatering and conjure up Christmas in one bite. I have also written down a game plan and suggestions for things to have at the ready if you are planning to bake your gifts in the form of cookies this year.
Christmas Cookie Game Plan: START NOW FRIENDS!
Buy Ingredients Ahead of Time!
1. Select your recipes.
2. Buy your butter, eggs, flour, sugar (brown and white), cinnamon and vanilla in bulk from Costco if you have one around. Ours actually has organic eggs and butter which makes me very happy!
3. Also, Costco has the very best and biggest parchment paper around. If you don’t have a Costco in your area, simply buy a couple of rolls of parchment from the grocery store. You will never, ever be happier that you have parchment than this time in your life. Parchment allows you to simply throw away the mess and keep moving forward on baking. Washing cookie sheets in between really slows you down too much when baking assembly line cookies.
Make all of the Dough:
4. Make double batches of all of your recipes and freeze the dough, one recipe a day (or every other day) for two weeks or one week depending on the number of various cookies you are making. The batters that freeze best are any kind of solid cookie doughs like chocolate chip cookies, ginger, peanut butter, etc; not flaky or delicate cookies such as my Crescent Cookies or Finnish Ribbons.
5. Freezing the Batter…to freeze the batter, get out a long piece of plastic wrap and place your dough in a tube shape onto the plastic, running down the middle of it. Wrap it up and then double wrap it if any area is exposed. Then place the dough in a Ziploc bag. It’ s very important the dough is kept air tight. Freeze for up to two weeks.
6. Get packaging supplies ahead of time! I get holiday boxes or Christmas plates or other containers from Michaels (or other likely store) on sale or simply get a large package of Christmas paper plates at the market for packaging. Anything that keeps your cost down and is a size that is large enough to contain your cookies but not so large that you have to fill it with so many cookies that you can’t possibly bake enough for your list of recipients.
7. One to two full days before you plan to bake, defrost all of the cookie doughs by placing them in the fridge.
8. Plan to bake for one entire day. I don’t know any way around this. This should be done the day before packaging and delivery so all of your cookies are at their freshest.
9. Line all of your cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven. Borrow cookies sheets from a friend or neighbor so you have at least 4 rotating. Cookie sheets MUST COOL COMPLETELY before loading them up with more dough; otherwise your dough spreads out too quickly.
10. Slice off 1/2 inch discs of each dough per cookie. Slice an entire tube at one time for speed and efficiency. Proceed as needed for that specific recipe. I.E. roll in balls and dip in sugar if necessary and place on cookie sheet. Bake them all up according to your recipe(s). Bake all cookies that need to be baked at 350, and then adjust the heat for cookies that have a different temp. Store COOLED COOKIES in ziploc bags or plastic air tight containers.
Packaging and Delivery Day (set aside 1-2 hours for packaging, depending on your quantity )
11. Make sure to have lots of plastic wrap on hand and possibly clear basket wrap cellophane if you are going fancier. Have curling ribbon, scissors and gift tags on hand as well.
12. WASH YOUR HANDS often, and clean and clear your kitchen table. On counters or table, place all of your cooled and baked cookies on plates, etc.
13. Tie your hair back. Nothing says “ew” more than receiving a beautiful plate of cookies and one hair strand.
14. Never package cookies when sick. It’s not fair to share germs. If you are ill, enlist some family members to do this job. Tell them to “man up” when they whine.
15. Deliver them all in one fell swoop with kids or other willing participants to run out and ring on doorbells. Call ahead if you don’t want to show up to an empty house.
You may also want to consult my Cookies 101 tab at the top of my blog for cookie baking tips and tricks.
Ginger Drop Cookies
All Purpose Flour Version
Taken from the All American Cookie Cookbook, written by Nancy Baggett
****Buy this book for any baker on your gift list!!!! It is my all time favorite cookie “bible”. It is HUGE and is filled with my most tried and true cookie recipes.***
Yields about two dozen cookies.
2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 3/4 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. (1 stick butter) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 c. white vegetable shortening
3/4 c. plus 2 T. packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 T. light or dark molasses
1 large egg
1/4 t. finely grated orange zest (orange part of skin…no white)
1/4 c. Turbinado or granulated sugar for topping
Gluten-Free Ginger Drop Cookies
Substitute 2 c. GF Flour Blend 1 (found on my GF tab) for the All Purpose Flour
Add an ADDITIONAL 1/4 t. baking powder (a total of 1 1/4 t. BP)
Add 3/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum or Guar Gum
Everything else is the same! 🙂
To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour through the cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and molasses until well blended and fluffy. See below. Beat in the egg and orange zest until well blended and smooth. Beat in half of the flour mixture on low speed until evenly incorporated. Beat or stir in the remaining flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Don’t overmix. Let the dough stand for 5 minutes or until slightly firmed up.
Shape portions of the dough into generous 1 inch balls with lightly greased hands. I usually just lightly spray my hands with cooking spray. Roll each ball in the the sugar until lightly coated. Place on the baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using your hand, lightly pat down the cookie tops just slightly.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until barely firm in the centers and faintly browned at the edges. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.