Kitchen Accomplice-Just in time for baking this week: recipes for a 'Holiday Cookie Platter'

   Whether for the family or the office – or both --- here are some ideas that brighten my Holidays -- and which I received from cooks I admire. 
They are easy.  One of my friends said, “Where do you get the time?”  These take almost no time and are the stuff memories are made of.

   Snickerdoodles (James Beard’s favorite) Buttery cookie topped with cinnamon sugar

  Makes about 48
  1 cup butter or shortening
  1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  2 large eggs
  2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  1 teaspoons baking soda
  Cinnamon and sugar mixed to taste (about 1/4 cup sugar to 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon is a good mixture)

  Preheat oven to 400F.
  Mix together butter and sugar until smooth, then add eggs, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
  Stir in flour until well mixed. Roll into balls about 1" in diameter and roll in cinnamon and sugar to coat.
  Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes.
  Cookies are done when they are just barely browning.

Peanut Blossoms (My secretary’s favorite) Peanut butter cookies topped with a Hershey's Kiss. Pure bliss!

  1 bag (8oz) Hershey's Kisses
  1 egg
  1/2 cup shortening
  2 tablespoons milk
  3/4 cup peanut butter
  1 teaspoon vanilla
  1/3 cup granulated sugar
  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  Additional granulated sugar (red and green is pretty)

  Heat oven to 375F. Remove candy wrappers.
  In large bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended.
  Add the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and all of the brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy.
  Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.
  Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture.
  Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in the additional granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down so cookie cracks around edges.
  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
  Makes about 48

Toffee Butter Crunch (My Mother always greeted us with this at Christmas)


  1 cup butter
  1 1/3 cups sugar
  1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  3 tablespoons water
  1 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds, toasted
  4 4-1/2-ounce bars milk chocolate, melted
  1 cup finely chopped blanched almonds, toasted

  Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add sugar, corn syrup, and water.
  Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, to hard-crack stage (300 F on your candy thermometer) - watch carefully after temperature reaches 280 F.
  Quickly stir in coarsely chopped nuts; spread in well-greased 13x9 inch pan.
  Cool thoroughly.
  Turn out on waxed paper; spread top with half the melted chocolate; sprinkle with half the finely chopped nuts.
  Cover with waxed paper; invert; spread again with remaining chocolate.
  Sprinkle top with remaining nuts.
  If necessary, chill to firm chocolate. Break into pieces.

Orange Thins (My wife’s favorite)

  1/4 cups all purpose flour
  1/2 cup cornstarch
  1/8 tsp salt
  3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  1 cup extra fine sugar
  2 tsp orange zest

  Preheat an oven to 375°F.
  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt into a medium bowl.
  Whisk the beaten eggs, sugar, and orange zest in a bowl until very thick.  We use the whisk attachment on the stand mixer for this.
  Add the contents of the medium bowl. Mix together.
  Put a small walnut-size ball of batter on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  Press until very flat and thin.
  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just golden.
  Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes.
  Transfer to racks and let cool completely

Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. 
He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges and can be reached


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