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Homemade Christmas gifts are a great way to add a very personal touch to your gift giving during the holiday season. There are countless ways to spread Christmas cheer and, for hundreds of years, one of the world’s enduring time-honored traditions is that of giving food gifts. The cookie recipes below make excellent gifts but they are also good to take to a Christmas party or a cookie exchange. Packaging them in decorative bags, jars or boxes or arranging them on Christmas plates, makes these gifts very festive.

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Lemon Pecan Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
  • Lemon Icing, recipe below

Directions

Beat the butter and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the lemon peel.

Divide dough in half. Shape each dough portion into an 8-inch-long log. Sprinkle half of the nuts on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll one log in the nuts to coat. Repeat with remaining nuts and log.

Wrap logs in plastic wrap. Chill about 2 hours or until firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

If necessary, reshape logs to make them round. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until edges are firm and tops are set. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool completely.

Lightly cover cookies with Lemon Icing. Let stand until the icing sets.

Lemon Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar, lemon peel, and enough milk to make a spreading consistency.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Dark Chocolate Cookie Kisses

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
  • 36-40 dark chocolate candy kisses and/or dark chocolate stars

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add the baking powder and salt; beat until very light and fluffy.

Beat in egg white. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the orange peel.

Cover the bowl and chill dough about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or just until the edges are set and the bottoms are very lightly browned.

Immediately press a chocolate kiss or star into the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Sugar Cookie Stars

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Icing and Chocolate Icing

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in cocoa powder. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to just under 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1- to 2-1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutters, cut into stars. Reroll scraps as necessary. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are firm and centers are set. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Drizzle cookies with Vanilla and Chocolate Icing.

Chocolate Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 – 6 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency.

Vanilla Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

Makes 16

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces white baking chocolate (with cocoa butter), semisweet baking chocolate or dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pistachios
  • 16 pretzel sticks
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped dried tart cherries

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Spread pistachios on a sheet of waxed paper.

Dip each pretzel into the  melted chocolate, covering about two-thirds of the pretzel. Let excess chocolate drip off.

Roll dipped pretzels in pistachios to coat. Press a few cherry pieces into the chocolate on each pretzel. Place pretzels on a clean sheet of waxed paper; let rest until the chocolate is set.

To store:

Layer pretzels between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • One 8 – ounce carton light dairy sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Place cranberries in a small bowl; add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in drained cranberries and chocolate. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, combine egg white, sour cream and milk. Add egg white mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until combined.

Drop dough by well-rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown..

Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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