Cherry Date Dainties

I love making old family recipes, especially around the holidays.  This cookie/candy treat comes from my wife’s side of the family and has quickly become one of my favorites this time of year.  Dainties have everything you want in a Christmas treat – sweet, chewy crunchy and festive-looking!  The combination of cherries, dates and nuts isn’t unique, but the crunch given by the addition of crispy rice cereal is.  And who can resist the snowy indulgence of coconut??

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CHERRY DATE DAINTIES

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Dates
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Crispy Rice Cereal
  • 3/4 Cup Maraschino Cherries, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • Dash Salt
  • 1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan, combine dates, sugar and eggs.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Cook/boil for 10 minutes until dates break down and mixture becomes almost smooth.  Continue to stir constantly or the mixture will stick and burn.
  • Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla.
  • Add cereal, cherries and walnuts.  Stir until mixture is evenly coated.
  • Turn mixture out onto a plate or pan and allow to cool until you can handle.
  • Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and then roll into coconut to lightly coat.
  • Cookies will keep up to 2 weeks.

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This is an easy recipe, but a little tough to execute.  The mixture is VERY sticky and makes it hard to handle.  I like to take a small spoonful of the dough and place it on the coconut and then use the coconut as a barrier to press and roll the cookies.  It doesn’t have to be exactly round as the cherries and flaked coating make them look wintry and festive.  Give them a try and keep this one in your go-to cookie recipes for the holidays.  Dig in!

Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter cookies represent the richness and decadence of the holiday season for sure.  Instead of a store-bought tin or the basic butter recipe you might make, try this twist.  These guys get an upgrade from a roll in colored sugar crystals and topped with a pecan half.  They’re slightly crispy, but still melt in your mouth.  And they sparkle like all great things around Christmas should!

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BUTTER PECAN COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Each Red & Green Sugar Crystals
  • 50 Pecan Halves

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add flour and mix well until dough is formed.
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place sugar crystals into small bowls.  Red in one and green in the other.  You can use any color you want!
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in one of the colors of sugar.
  • Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Once sheet is full, use the flat bottom of a glass or jar and gently press cookies flat.  You made need to dip glass in the sugar crystals between cookies to prevent sticking.
  • Place a single pecan half on each cookie and press gently into dough.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Be careful when baking these as it doesn’t take much for them to scorch.  They should be slightly browned on the bottom.  Once you figure out the right time for your oven, it’ll be super easy though.  Make them before next weekend and let me know how you like them.  Dig in!

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s no cookie more iconic than chocolate chip!  And I’ve had an awesome variety of big, small, crispy, chewy and more that have all been fantastic.  This recipe though is a little twist on your favorite.  With a chewy consistency and the addition of butterscotch chips, they’re a great take on the American classic.  If you can pull yourself away from your go-to family recipe, give these a try this holiday season – or any time of year for that matter…

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BUTTERSCOTCH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter-Flavored Shortening
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 6 Ounces Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 Ounces Butterscotch Chips

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together shortening, eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  • In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well.
  • Using a spoon, fold in both types of chips until evenly distributed.
  • Use a 1-inch cookie scoop or drop by spoonful onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Even if you’re not a huge butterscotch fan you’re going to love these cookies.  And maybe, just maybe, they might become your new family favorite.  Get a glass of ice cold milk and belly up to the kitchen table for a few.  Dig in!

Coconut Cookies

Let the holiday cookie-making continue!  My wife introduced me to one of her favorites back when we were dating and they quickly became one of my favorites too.  Here’s the twist, there’s no coconut in them!  The interesting combination of instant mashed potato flakes and coconut flavoring will fool anyone.  And you will absolutely love the crispy edges and chewy middles with a hot chocolate or coffee by the fireside.

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COCONUT COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Package or 1 1/3 Cups Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 Cup Bisquick (or similar baking mix)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Margarine, Softened
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tsp. Coconut Flavoring

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl cream together butter and sugar.  Add coconut flavoring and mix well.
  • Add egg and beat well with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in Bisquick and potato flakes, with a spoon, until mixture comes together.
  • Cover and chill cookie dough in refrigerator for 1 hour or longer.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and put cookies on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  • Store in a covered container.

Simple, weird and totally delicious!  Try making a batch of these this year for something a little different on your cookie platter.  I hope you love them as much as we do.  Dig in!

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

If you’re from Ohio, you’ve likely had the peanut buttery goodness of BUCKEYES!!  Shaped like the seed from our state tree, these namesake treats are a hit for the holidays or any time of the year.  You’ll find them at almost any store in Ohio that sells confections and definitely at Ohio State football tailgates!  Good news is, you don’t have to be an OSU fan or from Ohio to love the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate – just ask all of our Minnesota friends who clamored for a treat box of Buckeyes around the holidays.

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PEANUT BUTTER BUCKEYES

Ingredients

  • 18 Ounces Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Lb. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Margarine
  • 12 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Ounce Parafin Wax

Instructions

  • Using a stand mixer (you’ll need a heavy duty one) with a dough hook attachment, cream together peanut butter and margarine until smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar a little at a time and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
  • Roll into one inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Place balls in freezer for 15 minutes to harden.
  • While peanut butter balls are in the freezer, use a double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water) to melt chocolate chips and wax together.
  • Remove balls from freezer.  Using a toothpick, pierce each ball and dip 3/4 of the way into chocolate/wax mixture.  Place on parchment paper.  Chill a full tray in the freezer again for 10 minutes or until chocolate is set.
  • Keep stored in an airtight container.  I like to keep them in the fridge, but they’re fine at room temperature too.

There’s little practice involved in the dipping process, but overall these are really easy to make.  A good tip is to use a small bowl or boiler for the chocolate as you want the chocolate to be deep enough to dip into.  You can also make 1 1/2 of the chocolate/wax mixture to make it easier.  We like to then use the excess chocolate to dip pretzels in.  Or try mixing in enough corn flakes to coat them thoroughly.  Drop in small spoonfuls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and top with sea salt flakes – wow are those good!  Try the buckeyes, share with your family and friends and make it a favorite holiday tradition like it is for us.  Dig in!!