Posted on

Baking Our Holiday Gifts

If you’re making gift jars, carefully follow the recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies we shared last week. If not, here’s the deal, this recipe invites “playing around” with the ingredients. You can use your imagination and create your own version of the recipe. I always double the nuts. That’s a given. A cookie is not a cookie to me without nuts, and the more, the better. Although I most often use pecans, I’ve also used almonds, black walnuts, English walnuts, macadamia nuts,  and hickory nuts. A fact about hickory nuts.They’re not commercially available. You’ll have to find someone with a tree.  Delicate and delicious, they’re maddeningly difficult to crack open and remove from their shells. Unless you’re a squirrel.

Instead of semi-sweet, substitute milk chocolate or dark chocolate. White chocolate goes well with macadamia nuts. I’ve used butterscotch and peanut butter chips at different times, but what I do most often is omit the chips altogether and use dried fruit.

Favorites have been raisins, cranberries, cherries, and diced apricots.The key to success is to rehydrate the dried fruit before adding to the other ingredients. To do this, put the fruit in a heat resistant bowl and cover with boiling water. After 15 minutes or so, drain off the liquid and stir the fruit into the dough. Skipping this step results in too little liquid in the dough and dry cookies. Dried fruit draws moisture from the other ingredients. You definitely do not want to go there.

When I visit my mother, I use her old big green Tupperware mixing bowl and make two or more batches at one time. These cookies freeze beautifully, and absolutely everyone looks forward to raiding her freezer. When unexpected guests arrive, we take a bag of cookies from the freezer, arrange them on a plate, and by the time, the coffee brews or the tea steeps, the cookies are ready to eat. That’s about as simple and delightful a way to spend time with family and friends as I can imagine.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play