Cozy mystery and romance author Kelle Z. Riley is also a global traveler, Ph.D. chemist and safety/martial arts expert. Today she adds baker to her list of accomplishments, sharing a holiday cookie recipe with us. Learn more about Kelle and her books at her website.
The Sweetest Season of All
Ah the end of the year! Even in the south where I now live, we’ve seen snow—and December snow always feels as festive as frosting on a cake.
What is your idea of a “perfect” holiday? What are your traditions? Do your traditions ever change? Mine sure do! I celebrate Christmas, and as a teen, the traditions included a small gathering of friends after Christmas Eve church services and later that night, opening a single gift from our overflowing stockings.
When I left home for my first job, traditions changed. Mostly they involved figuring out how to schedule vacation and travel so I could be home for the holidays.
When I married, traditions changed again. My husband “Baker” Tom had a Christmas Eve tradition of a clam chowder supper, which we incorporated into our celebrations.
Over the years Baker Tom and I developed another tradition: Holiday Cookie Baking!
Usually we make festive variations of standard recipes (my favorite is traditional shortbread). We’ve also made chocolates, lollipops (which turned into “stained glass” candy—trust me it is much easier), and even mini pies and cupcakes.
This year we created:
Peppermint Shortbread Cookies
1-1/4 C all-purpose flour
3 T granulated sugar
1/2 C softened butter
1/2 - 1 tsp peppermint extract
1-2 tsp. crushed peppermint candies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Blend all ingredients together until a soft, crumbly dough forms. (Tip: use clean hands rather than a spoon.) Shape the mixture into a ball and turn onto a sugar dusted surface. Knead until smooth.
Roll the dough out to 1/2” thickness.
Using a cookie cutter, cut into shapes. (Tip: dip the cutter into sugar to keep it from sticking. For added sweetness and shine, dust the bottoms and tops of the cookies in a bit more sugar.) Place the cookies on a parchment covered cookie sheet. The cookies don’t spread, so you can place them close together.
Bake at 325° F for 10 minutes. The cookies will be pale—not brown. (Tip: thinner cookies bake faster; not all ovens are the same so pull them out the minute the edges start to turn golden.)
Remove from oven and cool.
Decorating tips: Add decorative sugar before baking. Peppermint candy dust will melt and “glaze” the cookie. For intricate designs, make a template from heavy, transparent paper. Draw the outline of the cookie cutter on the sheet. Cut out areas using a sharp knife. Place the template over the cookie and sprinkle sugar over the paper. It will fall through the cut-outs in the desired designs. Or just try it freehand and have fun.
Now for the best part. Share the cookies with family, friends and even strangers who you’d like to get to know better. People may celebrate different holidays at the end of the year, but most of them will be delighted to share cookies!
If you’d like more recipes, you can check out my “Undercover Cat” mystery series where my cupcake-baking scientist mixes up edible fun while unraveling a mystery. (“Baker” Tom helps with all of the recipes and taste testing!)
And Happy Holidays!
Be careful what you wish for . . .
Bree Watson traded her lab coat for a trench coat, expecting the life of a spy to be fun. But when a body turns up on her undercover mission, she’s forced to handle:
~A murdered woman with more enemies than meets the eye
~A hunky handler posing as her fake boyfriend
~A sexy detective bent on wooing her—and wooing her away from espionage
~A drop-out drug dog with a nose for trouble
~Her cranky cat, curious coworkers, a cupcake challenge she can’t resist, and too many secrets, lies and cover identities to keep straight…
In the whirlwind of investigations and undercover operations, Bree develops a serious identity crisis. Who is she, really?
A spy pretending to be a chemist? Or a chemist playing at being a spy?