Cookies are addictive. So addictive that I find it nearly impossible to stop after a reasonable number. I just begin to warm up after five cookies and I can consume a quarter of a pound of my favorite chocolate chips cookies during the three-block walk home from the bakery. In self-defense, I never buy more than a quarter of a pound at the bakery, nor do I purchase a second bag of my favorite butter cookies with the apricot-raspberry jelly centers. And I only bake cookies one week each year--just before Christmas--then I give them all away.
Here is this year's batch of Christmas cookies, straight from the oven. These two recipes are particularly quick to make in the food processor and neither calls for unusual ingredients that should require a special trip to the grocery store.
A Straightforward Way
Unlike cakes, cookies do not require large amounts of air beaten into the dough. Therefore, creaming butter or shortening is done in a straightforward way. Softened butter or shortening is simply processed to a fluffy texture with the metal blade before adding eggs, sugar and other flavorings to the dough.
Dry ingredients are always added to cookie dough with half-second pulses so that the mixture does not become overprocessed. When nuts are called for in a recipe, they should be added with the dry ingredients so that they may be mixed into the batter and simultaneously chopped. PEANUT BUTTER SHORTIES
1/2 cup shortening or softened butter
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Insert metal blade in processor. Add shortening and peanut butter. Process until smooth. Add sugar and process until incorporated, sweeping container side with spatula as necessary. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Process until mixture is soft and shiny, about 45 seconds. Process in sour cream.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to processor container and process with half-second pulses just until flour disappears.
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Form heaping teaspoons of dough into round balls, then transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Gently press dough balls flat with tines of fork. Then press dough again at 90-degree angle to make crossed lines on top of cookies. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. Transfer to cake racks until cool. Repeat to roll, mark and bake all cookies. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen. OATMEAL SPICE DROPS
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup applesauce
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup whole shelled walnuts
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
Insert metal blade in food processor. Process butter and shortening until smooth. Add brown sugar and process until mixed. Add eggs and vanilla and process until smooth and fluffy. Process in applesauce.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add half of dry sifted ingredients to processor with half of nuts. Process with half-second pulses just until flour disappears. Add remaining dry ingredients and nuts and process just until incorporated into batter. Do not overprocess.
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Transfer batter to mixing bowl. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop level tablespoons of batter onto foil-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to cake rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 6 dozen.