Cookies make good holiday treats

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, December 17, 2008

By Staff
It's not just time that's in short supply through the holidays-budgets are also strained during the Christmas season.
Parties, dinners, and gifts take their toll on the checkbook, so it's important to cut costs where you can. Homemade food gifts are a perfect way to keep to your budget while giving your friends a present they'll never forget. Try these cookie recipes for Make -Ahead gifts from your Kitchen.
Most cookie doughs freeze extremely well and can be kept frozen for up to 4 or 6 weeks. Use these tips for freezing cookies: 
Cookies can be frozen for up to four weeks. Double-wrap dough in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn and absorption of odors from your freezer. Some cookies even keep well once baked: biscotti can be kept in a closed container at room temperature for several months, and gingerbread cookies can be stored for up to two weeks in airtight container (arrange in single layers between sheets of waxed. Write the type of cookie dough and the date it was frozen on the outside of the package. When you are ready to bake, simply let the dough defrost in the refrigerator. This will take several hours, so plan ahead.
The cookie doughs that freeze best are: shortbreads, chocolate chip, peanut butter, refrigerator, sugar, brownies.
Tips for Rolling and
Cutting Cookies
Refrigerate dough for at least half an hour-the cut-outs will hold their shape better.
2. Keep cookie cutters from sticking to the dough by misting them very lightly with cooking spray or flour.
3. If you're cutting out delicate or large shapes, roll out the dough on parchment or lifting off the scraps; slide the paper directly onto a baking sheet.
These edible gifts can be made at your leisure well in advance, then stored until you're ready to hand them out or enjoy with a glass of milk or cup of coffee with family and friends and of course leave some for Santa.
Orange-Cranberry Drops
1/ 2 cup white sugar
1/ 2 cup packed brown sugar
1/ 4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3 tbsp. orange juice
1/ 2 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1/ 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/ 2 tsp. baking powder
1/ 4 tsp. baking soda
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Stir in the egg, orange juice, orange extract, and orange zest.
Sift together the fl our, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix into the orange mixture. Stir in the dried cranberries. Drop cookie dough by heaping teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are starting to brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Optional: Make icing with confectioners' sugar and milk. Make it fairly thin, to ‘paint' the icing on the cookies with a pastry brush or use colorful sprinkles.
Rolled Sugar Cookies
1 1/ 2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter.
Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.