Heartfelt Holiday Cookies 3 Ways

The following recipe and photography for this post were provided by local blogger Abby Thome of The Thome Home.

Making cookies with my family is one of my most cherished holiday traditions. Flour-coated countertops and the smell of sweet sugar and rich butter becoming one are true signs of the season for me. Let’s not forget the giggles and conversations that come from hours spent in a kitchen. For me, that is what holiday dreams are made of! Whether you are rounding up your little ones, grandchildren or best of friends, gathering for a cookie exchange is a fantastic way to spend quality time together and share a sweet recipe that you adore.

This year, the recipes I’m gifting in my cookie exchange boxes are near and dear to my heart. A tribute to my grandparents, I’m making Baklava for my grandfather’s greek heritage, Rocky Road Fudge for my grandmother who made it every holiday season and pecan thumbprint cookies – the very cookie that my grandfather would request me to make him because they “helped him sleep at night.” I never had the heart to tell him it was the copious amounts of sugar and butter that helped him drift into a deep candy land-like dream. Food has always immediately transported me to particular moments in my life that I hold close to my heart, and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to introduce to my kids to the treats that are a sweet reminder of those we miss so much.

Pecan Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup raspberry preserves with seeds

Instructions

  1. With a handheld mixer, whip together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy (2 minutes).
  2. Add flour, salt and pecans
  3. Continue to mix until everything is fully incorporated
  4. Press the dough together into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough,  roll into a ball and place it on the cookie sheet.
  8. Scoop the remainder of the dough, placing each ball 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  9. Using either your thumb, a wine cork, or a small cap, press down in the middle of the cookie to create a well. This will cause the sides to spread just slightly.
  10. To fill the cookie with raspberry preserves, simply put the preserves into a Ziploc bag. Press all air out of the bag, forcing the preserves to gather in one corner. Snip the bottom corner of the bag and pipe the preservers to the brim of the well in each cookie.
  11. Bake at 350°F for 14-17 minutes until the cookies have set and are slightly golden on the bottom.
  12. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.
  13. Sprinkle with powdered sugar once cookies are completely cool.

Pecan Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

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Rocky Road Fudge

Ingredients

  • 6 cups mini marshmallows
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper or heavily butter the baking dish.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 2 cups mini marshmallows, sugar and evaporated milk.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil while constantly stirring.
  4. Once it is at a gentle boil, start a timer for 6 minutes. Stir constantly as the mixture thickens and bubbles.
  5. Remove from heat and add the cubed, cold butter, vanilla and chocolate chips.
  6. Stir together until chips have melted and fudge resembles a smooth brownie batter.
  7. Fold in walnuts
  8. Let fudge cool slightly, then fold in the frozen marshmallows (see tip below.)
  9. Pour fudge into the prepared baking dish and place in the fridge for 3-4 hours before slicing.

Tip: Place 4 cups of the mini marshmallows on a single layer on a baking sheet and sent them into the freezer for 20 minutes while making the fudge. This will ensure that they will not melt once you mix them into the slightly-cooled fudge.

Rocky Road Fodge

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Baklava

Ingredients

  • 1 package phyllo sheets
  • 4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Pull the phyllo package out of the freezer as directed on the package to allow the proper time to thaw.
  2. Generously butter a 9×13 baking dish.
  3. Chop walnuts and pistachios, throw them into a bowl and toss with cinnamon and set to the side.
  4. Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a glass bowl and set aside for assembly with a pastry brush.
  5. Once the phyllo dough is thawed, pulling up two sheets at a time. Brush an entire side with butter and place in the baking dish, butter side down.
  6. Continue with 2 more sets of buttered phyllo sheets, leaving you with a total of 6 in the bottom of the pan.
  7. Pour a layer of nuts over the buttered phyllo dough base.
  8. Grab 2 more phyllo dough sheets, butter one side and place butter side down
  9. Brush top with butter.
  10. Sprinkle another layer of nuts.
  11. Continue this process until you are out of nuts.
  12. Once you are out of nuts, you will want to repeat what you did to start, 6 sheets total, two at a time, buttered side down.
  13. Before you bake, slice the baklava into small diamond-like shapes.
  14. With a very sharp knife that has been dipped into cool water, cut lengthwise into four sections, then cut diagonally into 1 1/2 inch sections until you have created diamonds.
  15. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes
  16. While the baklava is baking, melt the honey, sugar, butter and vanilla in a small pan over medium heat until the sugar has melted.
  17. Once the baklava has finished baking, pour the honey mixture over all of the baklava. It will seem like a lot, however, the baklava will continue to “soak up” the honey sauce while it sits for 3 hours of rest.

Baklava

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That is it! You, my friends, have just tackled a ridiculously impressive treat that your guests will love!

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