Although I enjoy partaking of the goodies, I have to admit that I’m not very deft in the kitchen. Fortunately, my wife, Jean, is a terrific baker and the Daly boys are the beneficiaries of her amazing skills. In fact, she, Trent and Troy will be in the kitchen this Saturday, mixing and making dozens of cookies. I can’t wait to smell them in the oven. I always savor the rich aroma that gently finds its way throughout the house, especially at Christmastime.
I want to share two of Jean’s favorite recipes with you and wonder if you might be so kind as to reciprocate with one of your own. Please feel free to include an online link, if it’s available. And if there’s a story attached to the recipe, all the better! That always adds an extra fun element to the process of sharing our love of food.
Jean’s mom used to make these Betty Crocker Thumbprint cookies every Christmas. She and her sisters, Mimi and Stephanie, would help. In fact, one Christmas, Jean’s wonderful piano teacher, Mrs. Prosser, asked the girls to make these very cookies for some very special friends, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera of the famed Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. You can imagine how thrilling it was for a little girl to be making treats for the person responsible for shows such as "The Jetsons" and "The Flintstones."
Nut-rich…the thumb dents filled with sparkling jelly.
½ cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
¼ cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg, separated
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup finely chopped nuts
Jelly or tinted confectioners’ sugar icing.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix shortening, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla thoroughly. Blend together flour and salt’ stir in. Roll dough into balls (1 tsp. per ball). Beat egg white slightly with fork. Dip balls in egg white. Roll in nuts. Place about 1” apart on ungreased baking sheet; press thumb gently in center of each. Bake 10 to 12 min, or until set. Cool. Fill thumbprints with jelly or tinted icing. Makes about 3 doz. cookies. Instead of your thumb, you can use the round handle end of a wooden spoon or something cylindrical (approx. ½” in diameter).
The boys and I (and Santa!) especially LOVE this next one:
½ cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sour cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
1-3/4 cups unsifted flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening with brown sugar. Mix in egg, sour cream, vanilla. Melt 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips and blend with creamed mixture. Stir flour with salt, baking powder, baking soda. Add dry ingredients to cream mixture, stirring until smooth. Fold in nuts and remaining 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips. Chill dough ½ hour. For giant cookies, use ice cream scoop or ¼ cup dough for each cookie. Place on 3 greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly to 3 inches. For smaller cookies, drop by heaping teaspoon. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until still slightly soft in center. Makes 16 giant cookies or 4 dozen small cookies.
It was J.R.R. Tolkien, the beloved Christian writer, who once wrote that if more of us valued food and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. I think he was onto something!
Please let me know how these recipes turn out - if you decide to give them a try – and thanks for sharing your recipes and reflections on Christmas and food with me.
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About Jim Daly
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. He is husband to Jean and father to Trent and Troy.
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