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FOR THE LOVE OF COOKIES AS GIFTS, AT PARTIES, FOR TEACHERS AND FRIENDS, THE UNBEATABLE HOLIDAY TREAT

MORE THAN one-third of the cookies baked during the year are Christmas cookies. Thousands of pounds of cookies are shipped around the country as a delicious remembrance of shared times with family and friends; other batches are destined for plates at a holiday party or a special plate for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Old favorites are nice, but for the adventurous, here are some ideas for new holiday baking traditions.

NUTTY TOPPERS

Peanut Butter Layer:

3/4 cup butter or margarine

1cup creamy peanut butter

2eggs

1cup sugar

1teaspoon vanilla

1teaspoon water

2cups all-purpose flour

2teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Layer:

1/2 cup dough from peanut butter layer

1egg

1tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

48pecans OR walnut halves
To make the peanut butter layer: Combine butter or margarine, peanut butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla and water in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mix into creamed mixture at medium speed until blended.

For chocolate layer: Combine 1/2 cup of peanut butter dough, egg and cocoa. Blend at low speed.

Form peanut butter layer dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with fingers. Place leveled 1/2 teaspoonful of chocolate layer on flattened dough. Press nut into each center.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to cooling rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER BUMPIES

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1egg

1cup all-purpose flour

2teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1can (6 to 7 ounces) honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (1 1/3 cups)
Combine butter or margarine, peanut butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Blend into creamed mixture at low speed.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in nuts. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with bottom of a greased glass.

Bake at 375 degrees for 6 to 7 minutes or until set. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to cooling rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

CUTOUT SUGAR COOKIES

2/3 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk

1teaspoon vanilla

1egg

2cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine butter or margarine, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed until well blended. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Roll out half the dough at a time, to about 1/8 -inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugars and decors or leave plain and frost when cooled.

Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes, or until set. Remove immediately to cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Variations:

Lemon or Orange Cutout Sugar Cookies: Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange peel and 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract to dough.

Chocolate-Dipped Sugar Cookies: Combine 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon butter or margarine in microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at 50 percent power (medium). Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until smooth. Dip one end of cooled cookie halfway up in chocolate. (May be sprinkled with chopped nuts.) Place on waxed paper until chocolate is firm.

BUTTERY DROP COOKIES

1/2 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1tablespoon milk

1egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter or margarine, sugar and milk in a medium bowl at medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed until just blended. Drop level measuring tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to cooling rack. Makes 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.

Note: Frost cooled cookies as wreaths or ornaments for the holiday season, or dip in chocolate and nuts as in previous recipe.

JAMMY FANTASIA

Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups quick oats (not instant or old-fashioned)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup shortening

2tablespoons water

1cup apricot or raspberry preserves

Drizzle:

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla
To make crust: Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and baking soda. Cut in shortening until coarse crumbs form. Reserve 1 3/4 cups of mixture. Set aside.

Drizzle water over remaining crumbs. Toss to mix. Press firmly into ungreased 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Spread preserves over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Pat gently.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan.

For drizzle, combine confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir well. Drizzle over top of cookies. Cut into triangles or bars, 2x1 1/2 inches. Makes 3 dozen bars.

HIDDEN TREASURES

2/3 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1egg

1tablespoon milk

1teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

48Maraschino cherries, well drained on paper towels

White Dipping Chocolate

1cup white melting chocolate, chopped

2tablespoons butter or margarine

Dark Dipping Chocolate

1cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2tablespoons butter or margarine

Garnish

Finely chopped pecans

Slivered white chocolate
Cream butter or margarine, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla in large bowl at medium speed until well-blended.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Beat into creamed mixture at low speed. Divide dough in 48 equal pieces.

Press dough in very thin layer around well-drained cherries. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

For dipping chocolate, combine chocolate of choice and butter or mar
ble holiday treat
garine in microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at 50 percent power (medium). Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until smooth (or melt on range top in small saucepan on very low heat).

Transfer chocolate to glass measuring cup. Drop one cookie at a time into chocolate. Use fork to turn and lift out. Allow all excess to drip off. Place on wax paper-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of white chocolate cookies. Sprinkle white chocolate on dark chocolate cookies while chocolate is wet. Chill in refrigerator to set chocolate. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

CHERRY CHEESE BARS

Crust

1cup walnut pieces, divided

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup margarine, firm

1/2 cup flake coconut

Filling

2packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened (not Neufchatel, whipped or soft)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2eggs

2teaspoons vanilla

1can (21-ounce) cherry pie filling, or other fruit filling
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Set aside.

Chop 1/2 cup nuts coarsely for topping. Set aside. Chop remaining 1/2 cup nuts finely.

To make crust: Combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter or margarine until fine crumbs form. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts and coconut. Mix well. Remove 1/2 cup. Set aside. Press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.

To make filling: Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla in small bowl at medium speed until smooth. Spread over hot baked crust. Return to oven. Bake 15 minutes longer.

Spread cherry pie filling over cheese layer. Combine reserved coarsely chopped nuts and reserved crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over cherries. Return to oven. Bake 15 minutes longer, or until set. Cool. Refrigerate several hours. Cut into bars about 2 by 1 1/2 inches. Makes 3 dozen bars.

CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT

Cookie:

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1egg yolk

1square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Cream Filling:

2tablespoons butter or margarine

1/3 cup peanut butter

1cup confectioners' sugar

2tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
To make cookie: Combine butter or margarine, granulated sugar, milk, vanilla and egg yolk in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add melted chocolate. Mix well.

Combine flour and salt. Add to chocolate mixture. Mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Re-press centers after baking. Remove to cooling rack. Cool completely. Fill center with Peanut Butter Cream Filling.

To make Peanut Butter Cream Filling: Combine butter or margarine and peanut butter in a medium bowl. Stir with spoon until blended. Add 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Stir well. Add milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Fill cooled thumbprint cookies. Makes 2 1/2 dozen 2-inch cookies.

MINCEMEAT OATMEAL CHEWIES

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1cup firmly packed brown sugar

1egg

1 1/3 cups prepared mincemeat

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1cup quick oats (not instant or old-fashioned)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Combine butter or margarine, sugar and egg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat in mincemeat.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed until blended. Stir in oats and nuts with spoon.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until set and lightly browned around edges. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove carefully to cooling rack. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

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