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Baking Holiday Cookies

Baking Holiday Cookies
Cookies are synonymous with the holidays. Luckily, you don't have to be a pastry chef to make cookies that are both pretty to look at and delicious to eat.

We're happy to share three recipes with you: whimsical animal cutout sugar cookies; rich molasses cookies; and pressed sugar cookies, a buttery spritz cookie that comes from Sweden. Originally squeezed through a press and then twisted by hand into "S" and "O" shapes, this delightfully rich mouthful has evolved into a cookie of many forms, thanks to the cookie press.

We also offer baking tips and suggestions for flavor enhancements so you can add your own creative touch.

Cookie-Baking Tips
• Have all ingredients at room temperature before mixing.

• Preheat the oven and measure out the ingredients before you
  begin making the cookies.

• When making cookies, it's not necessary to sift flour unless
  the recipe specifies to do so.

• Use heavy-duty baking sheets and do not crowd cookies on
  the pan.

• A Silpat cookie sheet liner helps ensure even baking and
  allows for easy cleanup.

• Most ovens have hot spots, which can result in uneven baking.
  To alleviate this, turn the baking sheets from back to front
  halfway through baking.

• Remove cookies from the pan as soon as they are cool
  enough to handle, and set them on a wire rack so air can
  circulate freely.

• Molasses cookie dough can be made in advance and frozen
  until ready to use.

• Likewise, baked molasses cookies can be frozen. Wrap
  well with plastic wrap before freezing.

Enhancing the Flavor of Sugar Cookies
• Stir finely chopped nuts or chocolate into the flour mixture
  before combining with the batter.

• Add minced crystallized ginger to the butter-sugar mixture.

• Stir chopped dried fruit into the dough.

• Add grated lemon zest or orange zest to the flour mixture
  before combining with the batter.

• Stir chopped peppermint candies into the dough.