Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie Memories Old & New, Sand Tarts & Rum Balls

After not being able to post since December 6,  I am so out of synch with keeping up the "Official" Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories theme. So I'm just going to surrender for this year and post my own topics instead.

Christmas Cookies were always a tradition in our home. Mom would bake sugar cookie cutouts, peanut butter cookies, drop sand tarts, and spritz cookies every year. As an adult, I took over the reins as Family Christmas Cookie Baker. In my heyday, it was not unusual for me to bake 20+ varieties of cookies each year to give as gift assortments. As I grew older and my heart failure has progressed, my stamina for the baking marathons is no longer there. So I've had to seriously cut back and each year select just a few recipes to bake. One year, I ran out of time and didn't bake any cookies and oh the uproar that ensued! No one else except  Mom bakes anything - ever - so I found out my cookies are the gift everyone looks forward to each year. Mom's 78 years old, so these days she prefers making quick breads at Christmas or premade refrigerated "just bake and eat" cookies, rather than baking cookies from scratch.

Here are two of the most requested cookies for me to bake - Mom's Drop Sand Tarts and My Chocolate Rum Balls.

These is an easy version of Sand Tarts because you don't have to slice the cookies evenly from a roll or roll them out and cut out circles. Also, Instead of a greased baking sheet, I line my baking sheet with baking parchment (which does not need to be greased). Same results, much easier cleanup.

Mom's Drop Sand Tarts

3/4 lb. butter (3 sticks, softened)
1-1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder (check the expiration date)
beaten egg whites for a wash
cinnamon or colored sugar
walnut or pecan halves

Cream butter, granulated sugar, and eggs well. Add flour and baking powder. Chill overnight. Drop by 1/2 teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten out with a flat bottomed juice glass dipped in sugar, allowing a small rim of dough around glass. This helps the cookies to bake evenly. Brush the tops with egg white wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon or colored sugar and press a nut half into the center of each cookie. Bake in a moderate 325 to 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

My Chocolate Rum Balls

These Rum Balls are the top of the request list from my sister. I make mine using Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. You can use your favorite rum or substitute bourbon, Kahlua, etc. for the rum, depending on your personal preferences..

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. rum
1/4 c. light corn syrup
3 c. fine vanilla wafer crumbs (about 80 cookies, crushed finely)
1-1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
More confectioner's sugar to coat

In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans and 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. Set aside.

In top of double boiler, over hot, not boiling water, melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in rum and corn syrup. Drizzle chocolate mixture over crumb mixture, stirring until well combined. Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in confectioner's sugar to coat. Store in airtight container one week to develop flavor.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.

I hope you try these recipes and enjoy them!