19 Aug 2014
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'Cake and Bake:' Hassle-Free Christmas Cookies

Struggling with how to make those last few batches of Christmas cookies? Try these hassle-free ideas.

'Cake and Bake:' Hassle-Free Christmas Cookies

Looking to try something new with your Christmas cookies this year? Consider trying this recipe that begins with cake mix.

One can make several varieties of cookies from just one batch of cake dough. If you’re tired with sugar cookies, use a chocolate fudge cake mix. The cookies were a big hit with my family, and they’re fun to make with kids.

“Cake and Bake” base ingredients:

  • 1 box of cake mix of a flavor of your choice (preferably Betty Crocker Super Moist)
  • ¼ cup each Crisco and butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

With an electric mixer, beat together the Crisco, butter and vegetable oil. It may seem odd to use three different types of fat in one recipe, but go ahead and try it. The butter adds flavor, the shortening keeps the cookies from spreading too much, and the vegetable oil keeps the mixture from being grainy.

Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well. Add the cake mix and beat well, set dough aside and assemble your extras.

For the extras, think fun things such as coconut, your favorite chopped candies, toffee chips, dried fruit, nuts, miniature chocolate chips, jam, crushed Oreos or graham crackers, miniature marshmallows, flavorings and mint, peanut butter or white chocolate chips.

Divide your dough evenly into three different bowls. Add about a third of a cup of extras to each dough segment. If desired, add an additional one-quarter of a teaspoon of flavoring, such as mint, coffee or rum. Mix your chosen extras into the three bowls of dough and set aside.

Bake the cookies on cookie sheets with no sides for even baking. For thicker cookies, bake them in a miniature muffin tin.

Thoroughly coat two cookie sheets (or the miniature muffin tin) with cooking spray. Coat your hands and a tablespoon with cooking spray. Measure a tablespoon of dough into your hand and roll it into a ball. Place the balls in muffin tins or onto cookie sheets about two inches apart. You’ll have about 30 cookies.

You don’t want the balls to be much larger than a tablespoon, or they will be difficult to remove from the muffin tin and will spread too much on the cookie sheet.

Bake the cookie-sheet cookies for eight to 12 minutes and the muffin-tin cookies for 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Check the cookies at the minimum cooking time. They should be firm and dry around the edges and their centers should be quite soft but not wet. If they’re still too moist, leave them in the oven for a few more minutes.

Put the cookie sheets of cookies on a cooling rack and let cool for only five minutes. Carefully loosen the cookies from the cookie sheet and let them cool completely on the cookie sheet.

For the muffin-tin cookies, let cool for five minutes, run a knife gently around the sides of the cookies, but leave them in the tin. Let them cool completely and then remove them from the tins.

Here are some "extras" ideas for your Christmas cookie plate:

For the mini-muffin tin:

  • Candy Kisses: Press a candy cane Hershey Kiss into each cookie ball, pushing only part-way into dough.
  • Jam thumbprints: Make a thumbprint in each ball and fill with a half a teaspoon of jam.

For the cookie sheets:

  • Chocolate crinkles: Roll chocolate cookie dough balls in powdered sugar.
  • Mini Mints: Add miniature chocolate chips and green mint chips.
  • Brickle: Add toffee bits and chopped pecans.
  • Java: Add half a teaspoon of instant espresso powder and chopped walnuts.
  • M&M's: Add miniature M&M candies.
  • Coconut: Add white chocolate chips and roll the cookie balls in coconut.
  • S’mores: Add crushed graham crackers and miniature marshmallows.

For more easy and festive Christmas cookies, read "Last-Minute Cookies" on North Potomac-Darnestown Patch.

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