On the second, third and fourth day of Christmas, I …

Ran out of peanut butter.

Had it proven to me once again that my kids are awesome.

And secured my status as world’s best neighbor.

Here’s my wrap-up of the cookie challenge to date:

Cookie #2

When it comes to holiday cookies, everyone has a favorite.

My son loves Inside-Out Oreos. My daughter is all about sugar cookies. I can’t wait to go to my parents’ house and snack on sugar cookies from Larita’s Cakes ‘N More. Scott has a special place in his heart for chocolate-covered peanut butter Ritz Cracker cookies.

These are a simple cookie — just a peanut butter sandwich made out of Ritz Crackers and dipped in chocolate. They take no time to make, but one of the reasons he loves them is that they are the cookies his mom makes every Christmas.

Who can compete with that?

Luckily, she knows how much he loves them and made extras for Scott to take home after our Christmas celebration earlier this month. It’s too bad both kids like them, too, which is why I made more as part of The 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Challenge.

I’m hiding this batch.

CHOCOLATE-COVERED PEANUT BUTTER RITZ CRACKERSpeanut butter Ritz cookies

  • Ritz Crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate almond bark

Make peanut butter sandwiches with the Ritz Crackers and peanut butter.

Melt the chocolate almond bark according to the instructions on the packet.

Dip each sandwich in the chocolate until covered. Place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. When the cookie sheet is full, place it in the refrigerator so the cookie can harden.

Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe courtesy of my mother-in-law, Pennie

Cookie #3

We baked cookies for seven hours yesterday (hence the late blog post; by the time our kitchen was put back together last night, I was too sore to type).

We started around noon, rolling out the sugar cookie dough. (Emma’s recipe; not mine. We all know why.) We made good use of the cookies cutters, and then I left the house to grab lunch and hit the grocery store for the rest of our baking ingredients. When I left, there were four batches of cookies waiting to be baked, cookie cutters all over the counter and a kitchen table covered in flour. I was fine with the mess; it was going to be a messy day. But when I got home an hour later, everything was cleaned up and put away.

My kids did it.

Without asking.

Best. Kids. Ever.

Their hard work disappeared quickly, though, as we had a lot more cookies to make. Here’s the recipe we tackled for the third day of the cookie challenge:

PEPPERMINT TRUFFLE COOKIESpeppermint truffles

  • 8 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 36 milk chocolate kiss-shaped candies, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, egg and peppermint extract. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually beat in flour on low speed until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Press a chocolate candy into the center of each ball, forming dough around the candy to completely enclose it. Roll in remaining 1/2 cup sugar to coat. (We used colored sugar to make our truffles most festive.) Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of McCormick®

Cookie #4

After taking a picture of all the cookies we baked yesterday, the kids and I packed eight boxes of goodies to give to our neighbors, the mailman, the recycling crew and garbage collectors, and the UPS delivery guy.

Even with all those cookies we gave away, we still have a lot left – and even more cookies to bake before the challenge ends!

The following recipe is one of Emma’s favorites. I have several Christmas cookie cookbooks, each with its own variation for the candy cane cookie, but this one from spoonful.com is the easiest I’ve worked with. Twisting the dough to get the candy cane look takes practice – make the dough too thick and they bake into colorful lumps; too thin and they break apart during the twisting process. I pushed through, though, while Emma used her dough to make cookie snowmen.

Those baked into colorful blobs.

CANDY CANE TWISTScandy cane cookie

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon green food coloring

Using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, cream the butter. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar.

Beat in the egg until evenly mixed, then add the vanilla extract, the peppermint extract, and the salt and blend well.

Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour, one third at a time, until evenly mixed.

Divide the dough into thirds. Add the red food coloring to one third and the green food coloring to another, then knead the coloring into the dough. Flatten each third into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll a pair of tablespoon-size pieces of contrasting colored dough into 8-inch-long ropes. Twist them together, pinch the ends, then bend the cookies into a candy cane shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet until set but not brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Cool the sheets on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to continue cooling.

Recipe courtesy of www.spoonful.com

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