Teresa Hatchell 2005

Thank you, readers, for the influx of emails! I have received so many nice messages thanking me for the various holiday recipes I shared each week since early November. Several readers wrote that they had already tried the cookie recipes I ran on December 6 and used the goodies along with some fruit and candy to prepare gift packages for friends and neighbors. So, I thought I would continue that theme so that you all may enjoy another week of "sweetness" (eaten in moderation) before we all resolve to control our diets more carefully as the New Year is less than a week away.

Festive snowballs

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup finely chopped pecans

More powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract with a spoon until the ingredients are smooth. Stir in the flour until a smooth dough forms. Stir in the pecans. Scoop the dough by teaspoonfuls and roll them into 1-inch balls. Place them about two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake these cookies for about eight minutes or until they are very lightly browned. While they are still warm, roll them in powdered sugar and place them on waxed paper to cool. After they have cooled completely, roll them in the powdered sugar once more and store them in an airtight container until you are ready to serve them to your family and friends. Be sure to treat yourself to a few.

Tasty toffee bars

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)

1 egg yolk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

11.5-ounce package milk chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped almonds, lightly toasted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar and butter with a spoon until this mixture is smooth. Thoroughly stir in the egg yolk. Stir in the flour and almond extract until the ingredients for a thick batter. Spread this thick batter evenly into the greased pan.

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Bake this batter for about 30 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Sprinkle the top with the milk chocolate chips. Return the pan to the oven for about three minutes. Remove it and spread the softened chocolate evenly over the top. Then sprinkle the top with the lightly toasted almonds. Allow the Tasty Toffee Bars to cool completely and cut them into the sizes you prefer. The number of bars produced depends on the size you cut them, of course. These are extremely delicious.

Thumbprint cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

Yolks of 2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/4 cup plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

One or more jars of your favorite jam and/or marmalade

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugar together until they reach a light and fluffy consistency. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each is added. Use a large spoon to stir in the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and salt together into a separate bowl. You may want to sift it twice for a truly fluffy cookie texture. Then add the flour-salt mixture to the creamed mixture a little at a time, stirring the “dough” until it is totally smooth. Chill the dough in the refrigerator at least one hour. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Press your thumb (or the bottom of a new, narrow, tapered candle into each cookie to make an indention. Bake the cookies at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not allow them to brown. Remove them from the oven and fill each indention with one half teaspoon of your favorite marmalade(s) or jam(s). In other words, you may fill six cookies with peach marmalade and six with strawberry jam, etc. Slip the cookies back into the 300 degree oven for about four minutes, or until they are just barely browned. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. The filling will thicken as the cookies cool. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.

Contact writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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