COOKIES AT Christmas are like jelly beans at Easter -- a classic and self-indulgent holiday symbol. Unfortunately, cookies come and go. And so do their recipes. Cookie addicts who forget to collect recipes of their favorites must do without when the season rolls around again. So we asked readers to tell us about their favorite cookie recipes from Christmas past -- those they'd love to have but lost or forgot to collect.
We found many duplicates among the requests, perhaps with slight variations. Which explains why the recipes you'll find below may not be exactly what you described, but they're close -- and good. It was impossible to fit all the requested recipes on our pages, but local libraries and the Library of Congress can fill in from their shelves and rows of cookbooks.
Before looking any further, give these a try. Keep some and give the rest away. Unless you plan to spend a couple of days in the kitchen, however, you're probably not going to make all of the recipes below. So when selecting cookies, be sure to think of complementary shapes, colors and textures.
Mold crescents and balls with your hands. Use cookie cutters on the firmer refrigerator and gingerbread doughs for trees, bells, candy canes, little boys and girls. Roll them out 1/4 inch thick and, if they stick to the counter, slide a spatula under and lift onto greased cookie sheets. Place the cookies 1 inch apart (unless otherwise specified) and be sure to fill the cookie sheet -- oven heat tends to center around cookies and they are easily burned.
There are two ways to color cookies: with a paste-like frosting or by painting, says Irma Rombauer's "Joy of Cooking."
Make an icing paste by mixing 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar, with a few drops of water and 2 drops of coloring. Paint the frosting on the cookies with a wooden pick or a small knife. Or you can forget the paste and simply paint them with 1/4 teaspoon water beaten with 1 egg yolk. Divide the yolk mixture among several bowls and mix with a drop or two of coloring. Blue vegetable coloring acquires a yellowish tint with egg yolks, so if using blue, mix it with egg white. Paint the coloring on with a soft brush.
Most of the recipes below are simply a matter of mixing dough, refrigerating it for 30 minutes to chill, then shaping and baking. Once the cookies have cooled, store them in tightly covered tins to help in keeping them fresh. Buy pretty tins for friends and fill them to the brim. Be sure, however, to include a copy of the recipe; you don't want to leave them with nothing but crumby memories.
HUNGARIAN KIFLI (Makes about 2 dozen) 2 cups flour 1 cup cottage cheese 1 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces 8 ounces apricot jam 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans Granulated sugar
Place flour in a mixing bowl. Cut in cheese and butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until crumbly. Continue to mix until the dough clings together in a ball. (This dough can be made with a food processor.) Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill several hours. Roll out 1/3 of the dough on a lightly floured board to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut circles 10 inches in diameter. Spread with jam and sprinkle with nuts. Cut into pie-shaped wedges, 3 inches wide at the base. Roll up from the wide end. Pinch the crescent closed before baking. Place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in 375-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
KOURABIEDES (Makes about 6 dozen) 1 pound unsalted butter 2 egg yolks 1 pound plus 1 cup confectioners' sugar 2 tablespoons brandy 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts 3/4 cup finely chopped almonds 5 cups sifted flour 1 teaspoon baking powder
Let butter stand until soft. Beat butter with electric mixer until soft and creamy. (Some recipes say this takes about 30 minutes, but we find the cookies are fine with just a few minutes' beating.) Add egg yolks and 1 cup confectioners' sugar, beat 5 minutes more. Add brandy, vanilla, almond extracts and almonds. Mix well. Sift together flour and baking powder.
Add flour to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition. By the third or fourth cup, dough may be too stiff for mixer, and you will have to mix by hand. How much over or under 5 cups of flour you actually use depends on how the dough feels. It should be firm but moist and mold easily, with no crumbs, into crescent-shaped cookies about 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. Place on buttered cookie sheet and bake in preheated 325-degree oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Have table or cutting board covered with paper bags, and sprinkle paper with very light covering of confectioners' sugar, directly from the sifter. Place cookies on this paper as soon as they come out of the oven. Wait about 8 to 10 minutes and cover the cookies well with confectioners' sugar directly from the sifter. Leave for about 1 hour to thoroughly cool. Stack in airtight container.
BERTHA HOESCHEN'S FORGOTTEN COOKIES (Makes about 20) 2 egg whites 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla Pinch of salt 1 cup broken pecans 6-ounce package chocolate chips
Beat egg whites until stiff. Blend in sugar, add vanilla and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans. Drop on shiny side of foil on a cookie sheet. Put cookies in 350-degree oven, turn heat off, and leave overnight. If too sticky, leave out in the air to dry.
JAM THUMBPRINTS (Makes about 3 dozen) 1 1/2 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup butter or margarine 1/3 cup sugar 2 eggs, separated 1 teaspoon vanilla 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts 1/3 cup cherry or strawberry preserves
Stir together flour and salt. Beat butter for 30 seconds; add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating until well blended. Cover and chill 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in slightly beaten egg whites, then roll in finely chopped walnuts. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down centers with thumb. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Just before serving, fill centers with preserves. From "Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook"
SAND TARTS (Makes about 4 1/2 dozen) 1/2 cup butter 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 3/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 egg white Blanched almonds 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream the butter, gradually add sugar, then well-beaten egg. Sift flour with baking powder and stir into dough. Chill. Put half the dough on a floured board and roll 1/8 inch thick. Cut with a doughnut cutter or wide-mouth glass. Brush with white of egg and sprinkle with sugar mixed with cinnamon. Split almonds and arrange 3 halves on each cookie. Place on a buttered sheet, and bake 8 minutes in a 325-degree oven. From "The Original Fanny Farmer Cookbook"
CHOCO-PEANUT BUTTER TOPPERS (Makes about 3 dozen)
Cookies: 1 cup butter 1/2 cup sugar 2 cups flour 2 teaspoons vanilla
Peanut butter topping: 1/4 cup butter 1/3 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup peanut butter
Chocolate topping: 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate 2 tablespoons milk 1/3 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
Cream 1 cup butter with 1/2 cup sugar. Sift in flour. Add vanilla and mix well. Form into 1-inch balls. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 12 to 18 minutes.
For peanut butter topping, cream butter and brown sugar together. Mix in peanut butter. Spread on cookies while still warm.
Over a double boiler melt chocolate with milk. Stir in confectioners' sugar. Spread over peanut butter.
GINGER SLICES (Makes about 5 dozen) 1 cup butter 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup molasses 1 tablespoon powdered ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon cloves 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 cups sliced almonds 3 1/4 cups flour
Cream butter with sugar. Add molasses, spices, baking soda and almonds. Stir in flour. Form dough into 4 or 5 long rolls 1 inch in diameter. Chill. Lightly grease baking sheets. Slice rolls 1/4-inch thick. Place slices on prepared cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Bake approximately at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are firm. From "The Art of Fine Baking," by Paula Peck
PFEFFERNEUSSE COOKIES (Makes about 7 dozen)
Cookies: 1 cup honey 4 egg yolks 1 tablespoon cinnamon, or to taste 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice, or to taste 3/4 cup rye flour 3 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking soda 1 tablespoon water
Icing: 1 2/3 cup sifted confectioners' sugar 1 egg white Juice and grated rind of 1 small lemon
Heat honey until lukewarm. Add to egg yolks and mix well, using a wooden spoon. Add cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, rye flour and all-purpose flour. Add baking soda dissolved in water. Mix well. With your hands, make balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place on a cookie sheet that has been lightly greased and dusted with flour. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Do not overbake. Cool 5 minutes on racks.
Meanwhile, make icing. Combine confectioners' sugar, egg white, lemon juice and grated rind. Beat 5 minutes or until light and creamy. If mixture is too stiff, add a little water. (Food coloring may be added for color assortment.) Put warm cookies into a large mixing bowl and dribble icing over them. Mix cookies by hand until coated. Place on racks to dry.
COCONUT FINGERS (Makes about 4 dozen) 1/4 cup almonds, blanched and finely ground 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 pound butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg 1/4 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts 1/4 cup shredded coconut 1 cup confectioners' sugar
Blanch the almonds, if you wish. Grind them finely. Sift the flour. Measure and resift it with baking powder and salt. Soften the butter with your hands, then cream with sugar. Add the slightly beaten egg and the extracts. Then add the flour mixture. Last, blend in the almonds and the coconut. The dough may seem flimsy. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to harden. Make finger-thick rolls of dough and cut cookies in 1 1/2-inch lengths. Grease cookie sheets and place cookies 1-inch apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they have acquired a golden hue. Dip immediately in confectioners' sugar. From "The Smorgasboard Cookbook," by Anna Olsson Coombs
LEMON PECAN REFRIGERATOR COOKIES (Makes about 4 to 5 dozen) 1/2 cup butter 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 cups sifted flour 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup chopped pecans
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add egg, lemon peel and lemon juice, and beat until smooth. Sift flour again with salt and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until blended. Stir in chopped pecans. Shape into 2 rolls 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and roll up in waxed paper. Chill. Slice cookies 1/4 inch thick and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
Note: These cookies can bake an additional 3 minutes, which will make them crunchier and the flavor more intense. From "Better Homes and Gardens Dessert Cookbook"
FLORENTINES (Makes about 16) 1/2 cup sugar 1/3 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup honey 2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup candied orange peel, finely chopped or ground 1 1/2 cups blanched, sliced almonds 3 tablespoons sifted flour 8 ounces semisweet chocolate 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
Grease baking sheets very well.
Combine sugar, cream, honey and butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat and boil without stirring until a ball forms when a bit of mixture is dropped into cold water, or until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Cool slightly. Stir in orange peel, nuts and flour. Drop small rounds of batter on prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Flatten each cookie with a fork dipped in milk.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. They will spread in baking. Therefore, immediately upon removing them from the oven, pull each one back into shape with a round, greased 3-inch cutter. Using the cutter will insure their final roundness. When cookies are firm, remove them from the sheet and finish cooling on a rack.
Melt semisweet chocolate. Stir in shortening. Coat underside of each cookie thinly with melted chocolate. Place in refrigerator long enough to set chocolate. From "The Art of Fine Baking," by Paula Peck