The air is cold, snow has dusted the ground and twinkle bulbs light the sky.
Itís official: Christmas is coming, and the season for baking cookies is upon us.
Whether youíre participating in a cookie swap, gifting sweet treats or enticing Santa, here are some recipes to please.
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apricots, water and honey. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and jammy, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the amaretto. Allow to cool completely. If desired, the filling can be prepared up to a week in advance, then covered and refrigerated.
While the apricots cook, make the pastry. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt. Pulse just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in 2 pieces and pat each into a round about 1/2 -inch thick. Cover each round tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
When ready to make the tassies, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly dust a counter and rolling pin with flour.
Working with one round of dough at a time, roll each until 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut 9 rounds of dough from each piece of dough. Fit each piece into a mini muffin cup. Depending on the number of cups in your mini muffin pan, you may need to work in batches.
Fill each cup with 1 tablespoon of the apricot filling. Cut miniature shapes out of the scraps of dough, and top the filling in each cup as garnish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the dough is light golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
1/3 cup lime marmalade
1/3 cup cherry jam
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, lime zest and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the flour and cocoa powder, then stir in the cherries and chocolate chunks.
Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Dollop lime curd and cherry jam over the top of the brownie batter. Gently drag the back of a spoon through the top of the batter and the marmalade and jam to swirl them into the surface.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center yields just moist crumbs. Allow to cool in the pan. Cut into 24 bars.
14 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups dried blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, baking soda, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the lemon zest and the vanilla until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Stir in the flour, then the oats, followed by the blueberries.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the granulated sugar.
Working in batches, drop the dough by the tablespoonful into the salt-sugar to dunk their tops. Place the dough, sugar side up, on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies for spreading.
Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges and no longer shiny on top.
Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 3 dozen cookies.