During the holidays, I’m the person that shows up to parties armed with a huge platter of homemade cookies in a variety of flavors. You must think I am Martha Stewart but I assure you that I am not. Here’s a little secret: I hate cooking. I think I’m pretty good at it but the tedium of meal planning, in particular, gets the better of me. And the holidays? You may as well tell me to walk on hot coals because I would rather be doing that than cooking and baking for groups of people.
Let’s talk about those holiday cookies and how I manage to get them made despite my aversion to cooking!
I like to make several different kinds of cookies because everyone in my family has a favorite. I make the dough ahead of time and freeze it. This works with most cookies and the dough is good for up to three months. However, any cookie that has melted chocolate as an ingredient is not ideal because the chocolate hardens in the freezer. I am going to walk you through how I prepare a yummy cookie spread without breaking a sweat.
Pull out your calendar and circle times that you will be in the house and have your hands free for 30-45 minutes. We all have those little pockets of time in our schedule: when you are waiting for the cable man, when your child is sleeping, before everyone wakes up. If not, make time because you will be thankful later. Write on your calendar when you plan to mix dough or bake so that you will stick to it. You can easily make a batch of dough in 30 minutes and bake a batch of cookies in 45 minutes to an hour.
Choose simple recipes that are versatile. With sugar cookie dough I usually make regular sugar cookies and raspberry thumbprints (make a one inch ball, squish it in the center with your thumb, fill the thumbprint with raspberry preserves and bake. After it has cooled drizzle with white chocolate). You can do so many things with sugar cookie dough: roll in cinnamon and sugar before baking, drizzle with chocolate. The sky’s the limit. Peanut Butter cookie dough is also versatile. You can make traditional peanut butter cookies or press Hershey’s kisses into the cookies after they are done baking. There are plenty of non-chocolate options out there too, just use your imagination.
During your scheduled time, mix up one kind of dough according to your favorite recipe. Next, make the size dough balls that your recipe calls for (1” or 1 ½” usually) and place them on a cookie sheet. Freeze the dough balls and after they are frozen you can store them in zip lock bags. The day before you are ready to bake, simply lay the bags flat in the refrigerator to thaw. After they thaw, bake them according to your recipe. If you plan to cut out sugar cookie shapes, you can store the dough by dividing it in half and forming into logs. Again freeze on a cookie sheet and store in a freezer bag. It will take a lot longer to thaw so plan accordingly.
If you make one or two kinds of dough per week you will be all set for the end of the month. Are you wondering how to store the cookies? If you have a travel cake container, flip it upside down and layer the cookies in the lid. Separate flavors with wax paper and store with a slice of bread to keep moist.
By the end of the month you will have a cookie spread and it is all because you planned ahead!
Robyn Marshall is a native Missourian who moved to Knoxville in 2010 after living in three other states. She is a stay-at-home mom to one son who is a first grader. In her spare time she likes to knit, be crafty and is forever trying to get caught up on all of the seasons of Dexter.