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Twelve days to bake

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Are visions of Sugar Plums dancing in your head? Do we even know what Sugar Plums are? For many of us, our ovens and baking pans get more use this time of year than the rest put together.

Home baked goodies are ideal gifts for friends and neighbors, not to mention devouring ourselves while sipping egg nog and listening to old-school Christmas tunes.

If you are feeling all “Martha Stewart” (no slight intended) you could whip up a dozen different types of cookies in no time. Most of us, however, have jam packed schedules and are doing good to make a batch of sugar cookies, some fudge and a few loaves of cranberry-orange bread.

Two suggestions: First, choose a cookie such as shortbread that can be easily changed up by adding a pinch of cardamom and a dash of almond or dipping in Gianduia, Italian hazelnut. Alternately, pick two or three of your favorite only-made-during-the-holidays cookies and bake away, bake away all.

Fudge is always a necessity in our home. This year it is joined by a new take on shortbread – Orange Butter Cookies with Grand Marnier Glaze. This recipe is from Fine Cooking and the results are divine. The texture is rich and buttery with the essence of orange in both the cookie and the glaze. The other selection gracing our cookie tins will be spice-filled molasses sugar cookies. Grandma Buzzini always had plenty of these chewy confections on Christmas morning.

Grandma Buzzini’s Molasses Sugar Cookies

¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon each cloves and ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • Melt butter in 3 quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg; beat well.
  • Sift together flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and salt; add to first mixture. Mix well; chill.
  • Form into 1 inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Before baking press each cookie with fork across one way then across the other lightly to imprint.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 3 to 5 minutes and transfer to cooling rack.
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