Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Its Only 32 Dozen Cookies

While I’m sure many people have large budgets for Christmas spending, my approach has always been much different.  Gifts are nice, but for me it has always been more important to make the rounds and give something that was handmade or baked.  Even as a teenager I remember painting snowman ornaments for close and extended family at Christmas.  The really funny one was when I was 5 years old I gave my uncle a giant peanut-butter cracker stack (visualize most of a sleeve of saltines with peanut butter slathered between each in one giant tower.) 

My saltine and peanut butter days are over and I’ve moved on to cookie baking for at least the last 10 years.  In the beginning I had multiple cookie recipes (as many as six) and gave each family a dozen of the different varieties.  Then I pared down to 4 recipes and that lasted a year or two when it became too much and I dropped down to just sugar cookies and a basic chocolate chip recipe that is well received.  I love the sugar cookies, but since having young children, it is more difficult to bake, decorate, and package them up, even if I bake and freeze the cookies ahead.

These last few years I have only made chocolate chip cookies.  I love the recipe because it is freezable and they still taste equally good when they thaw (or even frozen if you are like Matt who sneaks a few out of the freezer at a time and I find only 6 left in a bag of 3 dozen when I get them out.)  Even better, I can fit a triple batch in my 6 qt. stand mixer.  This is important since I make a minimum of 20 dozen cookies each year, and often more like 30 dozen so I also have cookies to take to the various events we attend during the holidays.

As of this past weekend, my baking is done.  I had 12 dozen in the freezer before, but on Sunday I finished the job with two-triple batches and put another 18 dozen in for a grand total of 32 dozen (with some extras left for eating.) 
I wore Keegan in my carrier while I baked.  He slept at least an hour that way.
I wish I could remember where I got this recipe, but since I've been using it for so long, I'm not certain.  Perhaps it was on the package of one of the ingredients along the way.  Most importantly, they sure are delicious and always get compliments.  Below is the recipe and at the bottom are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that make my baking much easier.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine softened
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (I use McNess Super Strength Madagascar Compound, see note below)
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine sugars, butter, shortening, egg, vanilla.
Stir in remaining ingredients
Drop by round tsp on ungreased cookie sheet (use parchment paper)
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (12-14 in my new oven)
Makes about 40 cookies (less if your spouse steals a small bowl of dough)

Tips for these cookies:
1) Use parchment paper!  You can reuse it multiple times, but use it and your cookies are less likely to burn, not to mention the easy cleanup.

2) Purchase a small cookie scoop like the old fashioned ice cream scoops that you squeeze and it plops out. (saves so much time and makes consistent sized cookies)

3) Own at least six good cookie sheets.  Two are in the oven, two are cooling, and two already cooled and you can begin plopping dough onto them.  (never put your dough on hot pans or they will spread more than they would have if you used cool pans—by cool, I mean cool enough to touch with bare hands)

4) Margarine is adequate for this recipe, but if you were making sugar cookies, definitely use real butter.

5) Buy Crisco sticks.  And if you are making a triple batch, you don’t even have to slice it, just put the whole stick in, no measuring necessary.  (I usually get the butter flavored ones)

6) Use a quality vanilla like McNess or Watkins.  (Over the weekend I made two triple batches and the first was with my last drops of McNess and the second was with a pure vanilla that was name brand.  Matt ate one of the cookies from the second batch and told me something was wrong with them, “They’re okay but not as good as usual.”  I pulled a cookie from the earlier batch to compare and sure enough, the vanilla was the only difference.)

7) Freeze them in gallon Ziploc bags, 3 dozen per bag, stacks of 4 tall and 3 wide.  Just suck the air out of the bag before you seal it and place them in the freezer.  They stack well and can be pulled out a few hours before use.  You can also freeze them in individual cookie/treat bags as a single stand, place in another bag and freeze them a week or two before Christmas so you only need to pull them out the day of.  I usually put them in a plastic bag labeled for the place we are going with the correct quantity of packages so it is one less thing to worry about during the busy holidays.

Happy baking!


  1. I am in awe! You put me to shame. I always give cookies away for Christmas but I like to make different kinds.

  2. Maybe when the kids are older, my cookie variety will return. I have many great family recipes. But for now, those must wait for simpler times. In the meantime, it's the efficient steadfast in my freezer.