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Many years ago, I remember thumbing through my mother's Christmas cookie recipe file and seeing all these wonderful recipes from women's magazines—think lots of green and red glaced cherries. It was (along with my mother's jewelry box) my favorite thing to rifle through. (It's something my 10-year-old daughter, Pia, likes to do as well.)
December's challenge for Tasting and Testing was Sugar Cookies—just right for the holidays. (Let's not forget that I worked on this story in August.) I had to create an all-purpose sugar cookie dough and then come up with 3 variations. It's usually a challenge to come up with variations for this column (and fit them all onto one single page) but this one was a breeze. I only wish I had another page to continue on with the variations. From one dough, the possibilities are nearly infinite. Here are a few more:
Almond-Cardamom Cookies—in place of the powdered and crystallized ginger, add 1/2 cup ground toasted almonds and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, roll out and cut or roll into a log, chill and slice. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate after baking and cooling.
Cherry-Chocolate Cookies—in place of the powdered and crystallized ginger, add 6 ounces mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped dried tart cherries. Roll out and cut or roll into 1-inch balls and press to 1/4-inch
Green Tea-Ginger Cookies—add 1 teaspoon green tea powder (Macha) to the dough along with the crystallized and powdered ginger. Roll out and cut or roll into a log, chill and slice.
Pepper-Spice Cookies—add 1/2 teaspoon each ground white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Roll out and cut or roll into a log, chill and slice.
Lemon—Poppy-seed Cookies— in place of the powdered and crystallized ginger, add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds. Roll out and cut, or roll into a log, chill and slice
White Chocolate-Cranberry Cookies—in place of the powdered and crystallized ginger, add 6 ounces mini white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries. Roll out and cut or roll into a log, chill and slice.