Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas baking

Like many people, I’ve made my share of Christmas cookies over the years—mostly for work or to give as gifts to family and friends. I have several recipes I like to use but at some point, settled on two that were always well received—pecan tassies and coconut macaroons. What’s funny is that I’m not a fan of pecans or coconut so don’t eat either. I guess you could say that’s a good thing though! I thought it was time to share the recipes for these two favorites. Enjoy!


1 cup butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Stir in 2 cups of all-purpose flour with a spoon just until the mixture forms a ball. Divide the dough into thirds, wrapping each portion. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Roll the dough out, one third at a time, 1/8-inch-thick on lightly floured surface. Cut out with 2 ¼ inch round cutter. Gently press dough rounds into ungreased mini-muffin pan cups. Refrigerate shells until ready to fill and bake.

2 eggs
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Prepare shells according to the recipe. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl using a wire whisk, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in brown sugar, butter, and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Stir in the pecans. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the filling into each unbaked shell, filling about half full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms of pastries are crisp and light brown. Let cool 10 minutes in pans on wire racks. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen tassies.

  • The ingredients are simple—just make sure the cream cheese and butter are softened. 
  • A stand mixer comes in handy.
  • Separate the dough into disks, wrap in Saran Wrap, then refrigerate. I usually make the dough one night and do the rest the next night.
  • You can buy chopped nuts or chop them yourself in a food processor.

  • I chop the pecans up pretty fine.
  • It's handy to have two large tins. I fill one tin and pop it in the oven. While the first batch bakes, I prepare the second batch. The timing is just about right.
  • You don't need to butter the tin. 
  • Only take one disk of dough out of the refrigerator at a time. Chilled dough is easier to work with.
  • Before making, I trim my fingernails to avoid my nail digging into the shell as I press the dough into the tin.
  • I never roll the dough out. I always take the chilled disk of dough and cut it into squares small enough to fit in the tin with a butter knife. Do what works best for you.
  • I bought a Mini-tart Shaper from Pampered Chef and found it very helpful in pressing the dough into the tin. You still have to form the dough with your finger but this gets it started for you. Before pressing the dough, I dip the Shaper into water.
  • You don't need a mixer to blend the filling. A whisk works just fine.  
  • I use a butter knife to pop the tassies out of the tin.


3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flaked coconut
12 candied cherries, each cut into fourths

Heat oven to 300. Grease cookie sheet lightly (or use parchment paper). Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium bowl until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Fold in almond extract and coconut. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Place a cherry piece on each cookie. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or just until edges are light brown. Cool 10 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.

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