Christmas Cookie Gift Boxes

Oh you know how I love giving away sweet treats for Christmas. Just remember back to when I tried the Christmas Cookie Challenge. I hoped that sharing the experience with all of you would motivate others to give it a try, just as the original blog did for me. I loved the way they turned out and everyone that received one was so surprised at how much work I had put into making them. This year I was lucky enough to have the time to do it all again! So here I am to share it all again and give you a step-by-step guide on how to do this yourself for Christmas!

1. First you will want to make a list of all of the people you plan on giving a cookie gift box to. Mine came out to about 15 people. Don’t make too large of a list or it’ll cost you more time and money. I would say don’t go over 20 people.

2. Begin collecting your favorite cookie, bar, and candy recipes. I went with a dozen recipes, pulling some family favorites and trying several new ones. I had to force myself to stop collecting recipes because there were so many I wanted to make!

3. Stock up on ingredients and supplies for the gift boxes. Here are some items to look out for:

  • Ingredients for baked goods (butter, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla extract, nuts, etc)
  • Large freezer-safe tupperware or gallon-sized plastic zipper bags
  • Parchment paper
  • Gift tags
  • Bows
  • Bakers twine
  • Tissue paper
  • Gift boxes (I found a pretty good deal at Target in the Christmas section, less than $1 per box)

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4. Begin baking, storing everything in tupperware or plastic bags in the freezer to keep them fresh. I recommend saving the more delicate treats for last so they spend the least amount of time in the freezer. I start baking during the last week of November.

5. Decide how to decorate and label your boxes. I found a pretty template to print “Baked With Love” labels and create a list of what kinds of cookies are included in the box here. I also decided instead of bakers twine, I wanted to stick Christmas bows on top of each box alongside the label.

6. Pick a day to assemble your cookie gift boxes and deliver them. For me this was the week before Christmas. I drive around to deliver my boxes, but if you’re shipping them, you’ll have to pack them so that they don’t spoil or get squished. It is probably best to ship them in layers of wax paper in sturdy tupperware containers.

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7. Enjoy the gift-giving and seeing the excitement on your friends and family members faces! Turns out I had so many cookies left over, I  gave my friends a lot of extras and made several cookie trays to pass out at work. As long as you plan ahead, this whole process should be easy-peasy!

Assembling the Cookie Bundles

Only a week away from Christmas and it is time to assemble the cookie tins that I have been so excited about completing. I pulled everything from the freezer and grabbed all of the containers I had bought.

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I lined each container with pretty Christmas tissue paper and used muffin cups for the cinnamon almonds and peppermint bark.

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It was fun to color coordinate the containers with tissue paper and pick out all of the cookies to fill them with. It gave me a chance to reflect on the recipes I tried. I was able to see which ones I liked best and how they stood up being in the freezer for a couple of weeks.

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Everything still tasted great. It was hard to keep my sister and my dad from eating all of the leftovers. All of the cookies that are left will become a cookie platter to share with the family on Christmas day. I am so pleased with these gifts. I can not wait to share them with everyone and I think I may have to do this again next year.

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Tropical Chewies & Gingerbread Boys

Two very good cookie recipes I am sharing with you today. The tropical chewies are a new one for me. I received the recipe from a friend a year or two ago in a clipping from a food network magazine and never had the chance to try them. Just looking at the ingredient list made me think of tasting a little bit of paradise.

The gingerbread boys recipe is very special to me. It was given to me by my grandma who has been making them for Christmas for over 50 years. She made them when my dad was very young and I remember going over to her house when I was little to bake them with both of my grandparents. Now it is my turn to continue making these cookies every Christmas. Even the cookie cutter I used is special! It is also over 50 years old and it’s still being used for the same cookies today. My grandma got it for free in a bag of flour way back in the day. To decorate these cookies, I recruited my sisters to help me out.

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1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups white chocolate chips

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup shredded coconut

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together. Add vanilla extract and eggs; stir until combined.

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In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, almonds, and shredded coconut. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes.

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Scoop dough into 1-inch balls, placing on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart, and sprinkle with coconut; bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Move to wire rack to cool completely.

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1 cup Crisco vegetable shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup light molasses

2 tbsp vinegar

5 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar together. Stir in eggs, molasses and vinegar; beat well.

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In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir into molasses mixture. Chill overnight.

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On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thick, cut with gingerbread cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. Decorate with candies and sprinkles.

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Bake for 6 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Finish decorating with icing if preferred.

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The chewies were, well, chewy, and very delicious. The gingerbread cookies brought back a lot of memories and tasted just how I remembered. Everyone in my family was after the cookies like sharks!

Enjoy.

Crockpot Cinnamon Almonds

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These cinnamon almonds sounded very good when I spotted them on pinterest. They made me think of the “crack almonds” my friend, Alex, buys at the harvest festival every fall. The idea of making the very same almonds in my crockpot sounded very easy and I wanted to give them a try to see if they were that simple. I doubled the recipe but I’m sharing the recipe for one batch.

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg white

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups almonds

2 tbsp water

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In a large bowl, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract until frothy. Toss the almonds in the egg white mixture to coat.

Spray a 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add the almonds to the crockpot. Cover the almonds in the sugar mixture and stir to completely coat. The egg white mixture will help the sugar mixture stick to the almonds.

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Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Within the last hour, add the 2 tbsp of water and stir together. The water will help the almonds get their hard candy coating from the sugar.

Spread the almonds out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and separate the clumps as best as you can. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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At first I was unsure about how the almonds would turn out. Would they be those addicting almonds I remember from the harvest festival? Turns out they were just as addicting. I set them out to cool and left for work. When I came home, all I heard from my parents and my sisters was “don’t make those almonds anymore… they are addicting!”

I’m hoping Alex will like them too.

Enjoy.

Found this recipe through The Recipe Critic.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark & Turtles

Now it is time for more of the candy portion of the cookie bundles. I love peppermint anything. And so I wanted to definitely give white chocolate peppermint bark a try. On top of the bark, the turtles are another candy that reminds me of Christmas. I have never had very many caramel candies for Christmas but I have always seen them in Christmas treat collections.

16 (1 oz) squares white baking chocolate, finely chopped

1 tbsp shortening

1 cup chopped peppermint candies

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In a microwaveable bowl, melt 12 oz of the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in melted shortening and the remaining 4 oz of chocolate until smooth.

Spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the chopped peppermint candies. Chill and let harden for 3 to 4 hours. Break into pieces.

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1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

salt

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

12 oz bag soft caramels

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. In a bowl, coat the pecans completely in the melted butter. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove and allow to cool completely.

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Arrange small clusters of pecans on a baking sheet. Melt unwrapped soft caramels in the microwave at 30 second intervals and drizzle over each cluster. Top with melted chocolate. Chill and let harden for 3 to 4 hours.

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When it comes to the peppermint bark, there are a ton of variations. I went with the really simple recipe of melted chocolate topped with crushed candies. Some recipes use a layer of milk chocolate and then a layer of white chocolate. Others use only white chocolate but involve peppermint extract. Next year I think I will try the two layered chocolate peppermint bark. It looks awfully delicious. The more peppermint flavor, the better (in my opinion).

The turtles came out great. They look so cute and everyone is excited to try them. I have a few people who get to test out my treats and I have received nothing but good reviews so far.

These candies will add a nice touch to the several cookies that will go in my cookie tins.

Enjoy.

 

I found both of these recipes in the food network magazine.

Spiced Chocolate Cookies & Saltine Chocolate Almond Toffee

Round three for the Christmas Cookie Challenge. So far I have been loving how the recipes have turned out. I’ve barely eaten any of the cookies I’ve made but it will make them that much better during Christmas time.

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35 soda crackers

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup blanched slivered almonds

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a sided cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Line with the crackers.
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Combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, constantly stirring. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes. Pour over crackers completely.

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Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Slide out cookie sheet from oven or rest on the open oven door. Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot toffee. Once chips begin to soften, spread completely over toffee with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle slivered almonds on melted chocolate.
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Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Break into pieces and freeze or serve.

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For the cookie:

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

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In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Slowly mix the dry mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. Hand mix the walnuts into the dough.

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Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

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To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa, and milk. Once cookies are completely cooled, cover each cookie with a teaspoon of glaze. Add sprinkles if desired.

The saltine chocolate almond toffee sounded so delicious and I was surprised at how easy it was to make. I ended up making a second batch later in the day to use more of the leftover ingredients. Who doesn’t like toffee and chocolate???

The spiced chocolate cookies reminded my father of gingerbread cookies but they were something a little different. I loved the idea to add sprinkles to add more color to the whole cookie bunch. These two recipes were definitely winners.

Recipes found on allrecipes.com.

Peanut Butter Cookies & Chocolate Crackled Cookies

Two more batches of cookies out of the way and I am becoming more excited for Christmas as the weeks go by. Only two more weeks of this college semester and then I can enjoy the holidays a little more. I am so excited to give out the gifts I have been hoarding and to assemble these beautiful cookie boxes.

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1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream together the peanut butter and butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Mix in the sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.

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Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in egg and vanilla extract until combined.

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Slowly add in the flour and mix until completely mixed in. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes.

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Shape dough into 1-inch balls (or use a cookie scoop like I did) and roll in a dish of white sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork to create the crisscross pattern on top.

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Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Allow to cool before storing.

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1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream brown sugar, shortening, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Add eggs; beat until fluffy.

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In a separate small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Slowly mix flour mixture into shortening mixture just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill for 3 hours.

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Scoop dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Coat each dough ball in white sugar and then powdered sugar to completely coat. Place cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.

I had made the peanut butter cookies before and so I knew they would turn out great. However I had never made the chocolate crackled cookies. I was very excited to try them out. As I put the batter together, I found it to be smooth and come together nicely. I’m really enjoying all of this baking. It is a great stress reliever for me.

Enjoy.

Recipes found in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and on the Crisco website.