Christmas Cookies

My family has Christmas on Christmas Eve so I got to spend Christmas with my best friend Jill. We always make time to hang out when I’m in town, but this get together was extra special: I was finally able to see her new house and we were going to break in her kitchen and bake up a storm!

Jill’s house had two things I was horribly jealous about: her killer pantry and an oven that also did convection. I ooohed over the oven and excitedly told her to let me know how it works when she uses it. She just laughed, admitted she barely knew how to use the oven on its regular baking settings and that next time I was over I could break in the convection (I’ve already looked up how to cook/bake things that way and bookmarked the pages). I also drooled over her one extra large burner. I have some hefty pans that barely fit on our burners and I’m very curious how hers would handle my pans.

The pantry of my dreams…

Her microwave also does convection

We had some basic cookie supplies, but Jill isn’t as avid a baker as I am so we didn’t have a lot of basic kitchenwares we needed. Thankfully, her parents live five minutes away so we raided her mom’s kitchen and were set!

We initially set up this baking day to make a cookie we’d seen on Pinterest called Meltaways. However, we thought we were short on supplies (extra blocks of room temperature cream cheese) so we went to plan “B:” Betty Crocker cookie mixes in the pouches. I have only used the premade mixes once (I feel if I’m going to make cookies, it’s just as much work to make them from scratch), so I was a bit iffy how they’d taste. I was happy to see all the mixes called for butter (yay!). They were quite easy to make and more importantly, they tasted good. We ended up making one batch of chocolate coated chip cookies and a double batch of mint chip cookies. To make things more festive, we dyed the mint cookies red and green.

The first batch of cookies!

Our very festive mint cookies made the whole kitchen smell wonderful. It was hard to not to eat them by the handful…

We took a quick lunch break and started on the Meltaways. Thanks to her severely shattered iPhone, we’d misread the amount of cream cheese we needed….Oops.

The Meltaways claim they can be made in under an hour and we were able to make them very quickly, but the recipe we used was a little too vague. I mean, they turned out fine, but it would have been helpful to have an idea what the cookies should look and feel like when they’re done (slightly browned on the edges, set in the center, etc.) instead of just 10 to 12 minutes. The recipe calls for pressing the dough with a glass dipped in powdered sugar, but when Jill went to do it, she thought she needed to dust the dough, then press, but I suggested we lightly grease the bottom of the glass with butter, dip it in powdered sugar, press and redip in sugar as needed. She also didn’t know how thick or thin the cookies needed to be when we pressed them. The first couple were too thin, but we got the hang of it.

The ingredients are very basic: flour, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and cornstarch. Yes, cornstarch. I’ve seen recipes that say to use/add cornstarch to make a softer cookie so I was curious to see what the dough would feel like.

Jill was VERY excited to put her canisters to use, and loves to play with flour (something that started as a child baking with her family)

The second tray of Meltaways

The dough was very soft and felt like a smoother version of play dough. It scooped out into some of the nicest looking rounds of dough I’ve ever seen. Our goal was to dye the dough yellow and do the cream cheese frosting in blue as a nod to Hanukkah, but we were using liquid coloring and our blue wasn’t what we wanted so we did purple. I wasn’t sure how much frosting to put on top, but since the frosting is just powdered sugar, vanilla and cream cheese, I knew it’d be pretty sweet so I went fairly light.

The finished product!

We were so excited to try the Meltaways, but I think all the sugar and junk food we’d eaten earlier in the day ruined our tastebuds because neither of us was too impressed with the cookie. They weren’t bad, but not as magical as we’d hoped. I brought a bunch of cookies home and had my mom and aunt try the Meltaways; they both loved them and thought they were quite tasty. I was planning to try one the following day, but the ladies had eaten all the ones I brought home.

I loved spending the day with Jill and I think it’s one of my favorite Christmas memories to date. I haven’t baked with someone else in aaaaaaaages and I’d forgotten how much fun it is. Even doing the dishes was kind of fun, and I hate doing the clean up!! We don’t know when we’ll be able to get together again, but we’ve already started planning our next baking adventure.

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