Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rum Balls, Mice, and Birch Bark

So, the mice and the birch bark are actually dead easy to make--all it requires is some chocolate melting abilities.  For the birch bark, you melt Almond Bark (a vanilla flavored white chocolate looking concoction) found in the baking aisle and you dip the pretzels into it and lay them on wax paper to cool. You can do this with your fingers, the bark won't be that hot. Then you can sprinkle them with sprinkles or you can make them look like birch bark by melting some chocolate (whatever is your favorite) and using a spoon to drizzle it in lines. You can also dip the pretzels in the chocolate only if you prefer. It's entirely adaptable....which is where the mice come in.

Mice essentially need you to buy some sliced almonds, some Hershey kisses (or hugs in this case...the striped ones) and some maraschino (or cocktail) cherries with the stems still on, and get some chocolate to melt. Once you melt the chocolate you dip the cherries in, sit them on wax paper to cool, and squish an unwrapped kiss on the front of it for a face. Slip two sliced almonds behind the head for ears (this all sticks because the chocolate is melty) and then draw the face on in melted chocolate with a toothpick.

Here are the rum balls--I am not the biggest fan, but my sister loves them. Therefore, I didn't bother to take down the recipe...though I might do it for posterity sake (after all, I might want to use up some rum and feed these things to other people who love them...I still get to bake and won't get fat from eating half of it!)

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

The next set of cookies was also taken from Serious Eats (I think I am beginning to like this Rachel girl they have over there....or at least her mom's cookies!). These were a bit sticky to roll in your hand but not horribly so and the end result was lovely and chocolatey (but not overly so). I will surely be making these again.


2 cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup (4 oz) melted unsweetened chocolate (cool)
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
powdered sugar for rolling


1.       Mix sugar, oil, chocolate, and vanilla. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder
2.       Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours
3.       Heat oven to 350
4.       Roll teaspoons full of dough into balls and coat in powdered sugar
5.       Place on greased cookie sheet 2 in apart
6.       Bake 10-12 minutes until no indentation remains when touched

Cinnamon Snap Cookies

These cookies were made from a recipe on Simply Recipes and they were a magnificent choice to try. They were easy to cut after freezing into logs and once they were baked...mmm...they tasted like cinnamon toast crunch cereal. Delightfully sweet and light.


2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
12 Tbsp (1 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup honey
1 large egg
Cinnamon & Sugar for coating (1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon)


1.       Sift together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves
2.       Beat butter and sugar together with electric mixer on medium until fluffy; add honey, egg, and vanilla until incorporated
3.       Mix dry into wet ingredients until smooth
4.       Flour surface and divide dough into 2; roll into 2 inch logs. Place in plastic wrap and smooth. Freeze for 2 hours or more
5.       Heat oven to 350; line baking sheets with parchment paper
6.       Slice dough into ¼ inch rounds and coat in sugar mix
7.       Bake 10-13 minutes until dark golden brown—watch after 10 min, can easily burn

Lemon Cakemix Cookies

These were an idea from my mom, we had never made them before but she had tried some from a co-worker cookie swap. I looked up the recipe on (my favorite resource for searches!) and forced my brother into hard labor with the stickiest dough next to yeasty bread. The cookies were very lemony and delicious!


1 box (18.25 oz) lemon cake mix with pudding in the mix
2 ¼ cups frozen cool whip
1 egg
1 ½ tsp lemon zest
1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)


1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.       Mix cake mix, egg, cool whip, and lemon zest in a mixer at medium blend
3.       Drop by teaspoonful (very sticky) into powdered sugar, roll lightly in sugar to coat
4.       Bake 10-12 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet until light

Swedish Christmas Cookies

These cookies are delicious for anyone who loves coconut. Though they pressed together a bit dryly (might add more shortening next time...) they managed to make it out of the oven just fine. I got this recipe from Serious Eats though I have eaten many different variations of this cookie in the past. 


1 cup sugar (plus sugar for rolling)
1 cup shortening or butter
1 egg
2 cups flour
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups coconut
Candied cherries


1.       Mix everything together but the cherries
2.       Roll into small balls, dip into sugar, press candied cherry into top
3.       Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes

Peanut Blossoms

Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies (Peanut Blossoms)--I got this recipe from my mom's old recipe card collection. I am sure that originally, it was invented by Hershey, right?


1 ½ cup flour
½ tsp salt
¾ cup peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Granulated sugar for coating
Kisses for topping


1.       Heat oven to 375 degrees F
2.       Combine flour, soda, and salt in dry bowl
3.       Cream shortening and peanut butter; gradually add sugars and beat with electric mixer until fluffy; add egg, milk, and vanilla—blend well.
4.       Gradually add dry mix to creamed mix and blend thoroughly
5.       Shape dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
6.       Bake at 375 for 10-12 min until cooked and lightly brown
7.       Remove from oven and immediately press kisses in center of each cookie; cool until kisses set

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza!

We made a veritable melange of cookies for the holidays as you can see--I will do separate posts with photos of each cookie individually and the recipe & source for each. Enjoy!