Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Cookie Mixes

I am a "gifter". I discovered that to be my love language and have found in almost any situation if someone finds I am giving them gifts...it is because I love them. Imagine my dismay in years past that my list of friends and family to give gifts to, far exceeded my budget. Rather than rely on credit cards and get in more debt, I was faced with the reality that I could still be a giving soul...and do so on a tight budget. Gals at church, friends and neighbors, co-workers and mailmen would often find me handing them a gift from my heart. Homemade gourmet cookie mixes (among a few other mixes I do). It will probably effect a lot of families this year. I have a few dear friends in particular who have found this year to be the tightest one financially they have ever faced. Every dollar is being counted. Every dollar spent on someone outside the family is done with pain. Those gifts take away from what they can give their children. Yet, here they are, faced with co-workers who may not know their financial situation...and they feel this great need to "save face". The solution my friends, for me for years, has been homemade mixes. A cookie mix in a pre-made package at the store with an oven mitt on average will cost 5$. Add up the 10 co-workers, the neighbors, church associates, brother in law...you're looking at quite a chunk. So...here's my gift to you this year. I hope this puts more money in your pocket, and still makes you look good. No matter your financial situation, it's a lot of fun. It's personal. It takes less time than you think.

I keep flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt on hand around my house. These mixes don't cost me much extra and the ingredients are just that basic. Baking basics are usually on sale this time of year as well! If you add things like peppermint chips, nuts, dried fruit...it will cost a bit more, but not too bad.
Basic Cookie Mix (From an old church cookbook)
9 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat works, but be sure it is soft wheat or pastry flour)
3 cups dry powdered milk (option, but I like the texture it gives the cookies)
3T baking powder
1 T salt
2T vanilla
2 cups butter or shortening (I use Spectrum Organic)
4 cups sugar (you can use spenda spoon able instead)

Softened butter in a very large bowl, electric mixers are amazing for making mixes, I highly recommend using one. Add the sugar and vanilla (I also love brandy, rum, nut flavors...)and cream well. In a separate large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. If done correctly it will look like a course cornmeal.
This mix will make 20 cups of cookie mix. I use 2 cups of mix per gourmet mix. Most often I will put 2 cup portions in storage size zip bags. This mix will make 10 bags of plain sugar cookie mix. The baking directions for basic sugar cookies:
In a large bowl, combine the cookie mix, 1 egg and 1 T water. Drop by rounded Tablespoon onto cookie sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake 375 degrees 10-12 minutes. You may sprinkle with sugar or funky cool nubby things. You know...have fun. Also, if you would prefer to do a roll out sugar cookie from the mix, use only 1 egg (no water) and chill the dough 30 minutes before rolling out 1/4 inch on lightly floured counter top. Bake 375 degrees 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies.
Nice huh? There are several variations I love. Here are a few:
Peppermint Crunch Lemon Creams:
To each 2 cup portion, add:
1/2 tsp lemon kool-aid powder (I know...very gourmet)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup peppermint crunch Andes Mints (they are pink)
To bake:
Add 1 egg and 1 T water to the mix in a bowl. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop by rounded Tablespoon on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Yields 2 dozen.

For storage purposes until I am ready to give the mix away, I write the name of the mix, the yield, and the liquid needed to be added right on the bag label. It makes it easier to keep track. I keep the mix refrigerated if I use butter. I will either have my kids decorate cute bags, or sew some very simple bags myself out of fabric and tie them with twine or ribbon. Directions can be printed, or hand written when attaching a tag to the bag. Just make sure it reflects your personality and love. Always. It will taste better.
For Peanut Butter Toffee Crunch Cookie Mix:
4 cups basic cookie mix
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Heath bar toffee bits
Combine well. Put in a quart size storage bag.
Baking directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium size bowl combine the cookie mix with 1 egg and 2T water. Mix until well combined. Drop by Tablespoon on ungreased cookie sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.


Oatmeal Cookie Mix:
In quart size bag:
2 cups basic cookie mix
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp dry orange zest
To bake:
Combine cookie mix with 1/2 cup water and 1 egg. Drop by rounded Tablespoon on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees 10-12 minutes.
To make 10 mixes, it took just under an hour. Savings to my family...around 45$ That's a lot for a small family on a small budget. If you find yourself in that catagory, God bless. If you sell the mixes to make extra money, hooray for you!
Here's what the peppermint crunch lemon cream dough looks like unbaked.
Baked, they are tender and minty with a hint of lemon. Very nice. Very nice indeed. Merry Christmas to all.

There you go. Also good topped with a peppermint kiss.

11 comments:

mlebagley said...

This is JUST what I needed! These look delicous...and I can do this! Thanks for the great ideas!

Chef Tess said...

They are delicious! Em, where you the one who did fudge mix for your husband's work associates a few years back?

HoneyB said...

Thank you for the recipes! I need to gift like this!

Emalie said...

My Dad just parley made something like that just this tuesday!!!

Bergamot said...

Nice idea...just thinking that I can make a batch and keep for easy baking later. How long will this survive in the freezer compartment or even in the fridge?

Justin said...

OK. Can I just say you have the most AWESOME gift ideas. My dad is a mailman, and he sometimes gets gifts of cookies in the boxes on his route at Christmas time, but to be able to bring the mix home and make it with the kids, and smell the baking cookies....so AWESOME!! I am not sure if I can get the more "gourmet" ingredients here in the Middle East, but I know can get the basic ones easy. I am so going to try this!

Chef Tess said...

Bergamot, this will last in the freezer up to 6 months if you put it in a freezer bag. I usually double bag it and make sure it isn't next to anything strong like onions. Fridge up to one month...again away from the onions. Justin...I totally forgot your dad was a mailman and yes, it would be wonderful to come home to bake the cookies!

Meadowlark said...

Thanks. It's what I needed right at this moment.

Peace to you.

Lisa said...

I have been so tempted to try lemon and mint together but have shied away from it for fear it will taste like a giant cough drop. Now I shall go forward in faith!

Chef Tess said...

Go! Make me some as well. I gave it all away yesterday!

clan of the cave hair said...

Okay, so we made a batch of this (actually 2 batches of it) at Christmas time, and we have kept one batch in the freezer. It has been SO nice to just pull out the bag and 1 minute later have 18-20 cookies ready to bake. I thought I'd share that my family wasn't totally in love with the cake-y texture with the egg mixed in, so I tried using water only for a batch that included 2 cups mix (set out to thaw a few minutes) 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, and 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. We mixed with 6-7 T water and baked. The cookies do not brown on the top, so watch them carefully, but the bottoms brown nicely at about 11 minutes. So far this is our favorite version of these cookies.