14 Christmas Cookie Baking Hacks to Help You Win the Holiday Season
Between shopping for gifts and entertaining guests, the most wonderful time of the year can get pretty stressful. Save time and money on your Christmas cookie baking with these genius hacks, so you can focus on enjoying the holiday season.
1. Turn Marshmallows Into Frosting
Ran out of frosting? Don’t waste time and money running to the store. Marshmallows, if you have them handy, make a creative and easy icing fix. Dip one side of your marshmallows (mini ones work best) in water so they don’t slide off, then plop a few on each cookie when they have three to five minutes left to bake. Once they start to melt but aren’t too runny, take the cookies out and spread your “homemade” frosting with a spoon. Make sure the marshmallows don’t turn brown, or else they won’t spread easily.
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2. Spice Up Pre-Made Dough
Using store-bought cookie dough to make Christmas cookies isn’t cheating if you add a personal touch. Take pre-made sugar cookie dough and let it soften. Then, sprinkle in any flavour you’re craving: cinnamon, orange zest, almond extract, vanilla extract, nuts, pure peppermint extract, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips. Your guests will never know the difference.
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3. Dip Everything in Chocolate
The easiest way to take an ordinary cookie and make it instantly more appealing? Dip it in chocolate. This hack works with any type of cookie you make because, well, it’s chocolate. Add a dash of peppermint extract to give your dip a hint of Christmas.
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4. Tackle Two Recipes with One Dough
Cousin Nancy wants cookies; Aunt Lorraine wants pie, but you certainly don’t have time to make both. Making pie crust takes a lot of time and patience, so store-bought cookie dough can be swapped in for an easier alternative. Simply press the softened dough into a pie dish, bake it, then add your favourite no-bake fillings like cream or fruit.
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5. Make a Buttermilk or Sour Cream Alternative
If your recipe calls for a cup of buttermilk or sour cream—but they’re nowhere to be found in your fridge—take 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, then add enough milk to equal 1 cup.
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6. Keep Your Cookies Soft
No one likes a dry, hard cookie (especially not Santa Claus). To ensure maximum cookie freshness, store them in a container with a slice of white bread, half of an apple, or an orange peel. The cookies will absorb that moisture, keeping them softer longer.
7. No Rolling Pin? No Problem
Wine and liquor bottles make great substitutes for rolling pins. Just wipe them down, dry them completely, and cover them in flour like you would a normal rolling pin. You can also wrap the bottle in parchment paper to be extra sanitary.
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8. Don’t Let Sticky Ingredients Stick to Measuring Cups
Many Christmas cookie recipes call for ingredients like honey, syrup, or molasses. An easy fix to a sticky measurement mess is spraying the measuring cups with a non-stick spray first. You’ll get more accurate measurements, and cleaning up will be a breeze.
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9. Measure Your Flour Properly
Scooping flour directly from a bag can leave you with inaccurate measurements. Instead, spoon your flour into a dry measuring cup and scrape any excess off with a knife.
10. Substitute Chocolate with Pantry Ingredients
If you ever find yourself short on chocolate, try this alternative. For every 1 ounce you need, substitute 3 tablespoons of baking cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of shortening or vegetable oil.
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11. Stay Away from Cold Butter
Here’s a little baking secret: room temperature butter makes your cookies chewier. Leave the amount you need out on a plate for about 30 minutes before you start baking. It will mix better with dry ingredients and help the cookie dough to hold its shape while it bakes.
12. Flour Your Cookie Cutters
When it comes to making cutout gingerbread or sugar cookies, the dough often sticks to the cutter and deforms what you’re trying to create. Talk about a cooking disaster. Flouring your cookie cutters before each use lets the dough slice easily and keep its shape once it’s placed on the cookie sheet.
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13. Chill Your Dough
Chilling your dough at least four hours before baking makes it easier to work with. This also enhances its flavour, especially the butter, because all of the ingredients have had time to meld together. Adding in this extra prep time can seem like a pain, but you’ll thank yourself when you have the most savoury cookies.
14. Make a Frosting Pipette Out of a Sandwich Bag
Decorating your cookies has never been easier, thanks to sandwich baggies. Fill the bag with icing, snip off the corner, and you have a homemade pipette. The bigger the hole, the thicker the frosting.
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Originally published as 14 Christmas Cookie Baking Hacks to Help You Win the Holiday Season on ReadersDigest.com.