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Hello fellow foodies, it's getting close to the time when we start baking christmas cookies. Some people wait for the week of the holiday or, if they're giving them out as gifts, the week before. let's get baking.

What's For Dinner is a community diary scheduled every Saturday night around 7:30 EST or 4:30 PST. We talk about food, share recipes and anecdotes. So, leave your politics at the door, pour yourself a drink and relax.


These are full tilt my favorite christmas cookies. My great aunt taught me how to bake them but, being from upstate NY, she called them, Pecan Balls.

1 pound (2 cups) butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups toasted pecans, chopped very fine or ground in a food processor
2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar for dusting and rolling
Directions: How To Make Pecan Butter Balls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the best flavor, toast the pecans first. Place whole or halved pecans on an ungreased sheet pan and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring a few times until light brown and fragrant. Let cool and set aside. Grind in a food processor when cool.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with vegetable shortening spray.
Using a stand mixer or heavy duty hand mixer with the beater attachment, beat butter on medium to high speed about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla extract and salt and beat again.
Turn the mixer to low. Add flour and ground pecans to the mixing bowl 1 cup at a time, scraping the bowl a few times. At this point, the mixer will slow down. Mix only until dry ingredients are blended.
Using a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop or Tablespoon, measure cookie batter in 1 inch balls and place on prepared pans leaving a little room between cookies to allow for spreading.
Bake in 350 degree over for 14 minutes or until cookies are almost firm and the edges are lightly browned. Let cool just enough to handle.
Meanwhile, measure 2 cups of confectioners' sugar into a large bowl. Sift the sugar if necessary to remove all lumps.
Working with about 6 warm cookies at a time, roll them in the bowl of confectioners' sugar until they're completely coated. Place on a clean parchment covered cookie sheet.
When the cookies are all coated, start over again, and roll them in powdered sugar a second time. Shake off excess and place on cookies sheets.
Let cool completely and layer between waxed or parchment paper before storing them in an airtight container.
Makes 60 melt-in-your-mouth pecan butter balls!

This recipe can also be done if you don't have a mixer or food processor, simply wait for the butter to soften and mix by hand. For the pecans, place in a heavy duty plastic bag and take a hammer to them. gently, of course. press down until pecans are chopped fine.

Variation: Bourbon Balls

1 (12-oz.) package vanilla wafers, finely crushed
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup bourbon $ (inexpensive)
Powdered sugar

1. Combine vanilla wafers, pecans, powdered sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl; stir well.
2. Combine corn syrup and bourbon, stirring well. Pour bourbon mixture over wafer mixture; stir until blended. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in additional powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts

Cream together 1/2 cup each of honey, brown sugar, and shortening. Beat in 1 egg; then add 2 1/2 cups flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup nut meats. Shape the dough into a roll or loaf, or press it into refrigerator cookie molds. Allow the dough to ripen for a day or two in the refrigerator before you slice and bake it in a hot oven (400°F) for 10 to 12 minutes.
Instead of pressing the cookies into molds, roll the dough into 2-inch-diameter rectangular logs, then slice and bake.

Read More


these cookies are gluten and nut free.

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until white and foamy, about 1 minute. With mixer running, gradually add sugar in 3 additions, beating for 2 minutes between each addition. Beat until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes longer. Add powdered sugar and peppermint extract; beat to blend, about 1 minute.
Dot coloring over surface of meringue; do not stir (the coloring will form swirls when piped). Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tip. (alternatively, spoon into a plastic freezer bag, then cut 1/2" off 1 corner.) Twist top; pipe 1" rounds onto prepared sheet, spacing 1" apart.
Bake meringues until dry, about 2 1/2 hours. Let cool completely, about 1 hour (meringues will crisp as they cool). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 12 ounce package (2 cups) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate pieces
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces or white baking pieces
1 recipe Chocolate Ganache

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium heavy saucepan combine the 2 cups chocolate pieces and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Cool slightly.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until well combined. Stir in the 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces.
4. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and tops are slightly cracked. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Dip half of each cookie into Chocolate Ganache; let excess drip back into bowl. If desired, drizzle with additional ganache. Let stand until ganache is set.

Place cookies (do not dip if freezing) in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and dip in ganache as directed in Step 4.


1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate pieces
1. In a small heavy saucepan combine whipping cream, butter, and sugar. Bring just to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Place chocolate pieces in a medium mixing bowl. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature before using. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.


8      tablespoons      (1 stick) butter
1 1/2      cups      packed light brown sugar
1/2      cup      heavy cream
1/3      cup      unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2      cup      creamy peanut butter
1      teaspoon      pure vanilla extract
3      cups      old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1      cup      dry roasted peanuts
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cream, and cocoa, then boil for 1 minute.
Remove the saucepan from heat, add the peanut butter and vanilla, and stir until smooth. Stir in the oats and peanuts.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the batter onto wax paper–lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart, and let cool until set, about 20 minutes.
Storage suggestion: Keep the cookies at room temperature, between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

Well, now it's time for you to tell us what's for dinner at your house?


My Favorite Christmas Cookies are....

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