In a Christmas Cookie Crunch

We all have limited time during the holidays and even less time when you have little ones to take care of. The list of things to do seems to be endless. If you still enjoy baking or want to include the kiddos as well and would like some easy and quick ideas for Christmas cookies, I have you covered. Gone are the days of 10 different cookies including individually cut out and decorated Christmas sugar cookies. (Maybe see you again once the kids are out of the baby/toddler stage). In are the days of easy, fast, and yummy!


These days I'm lucky to get one type of Christmas cookie made, and if I'm feeling particularly in the holiday spirit, I'll pick one recipe that is either new or requires a little more time, and then stick with my go-to standards for the rest. This year that cookie was the Swig Sugar Cookie Copycat and my standards are the Easy Peasy Rocky Road, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss, and Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods. Display them on a pretty festive platter and have them ready for any and all guests that pop over! This Enjoy Holiday Platter (on Amazon) is super fun and unique!

I always make extra cookies so that I can pass on some of the sweet goodness to others. Homemade Christmas cookies always bring a smile to one's face.


Now let's get to cooking making! My mouth is officially watering.




EASY PEASY ROCKY ROAD

This recipe is as easy as they come and requires 0 baking! You can either melt the chocolate and peanut butter in the microwave on 50% power or use a stovetop.

This recipe can still be made for those with peanut or tree nut allergies by substituting or leaving out the necessary ingredients. (Ex. For peanut allergy, substitute almond or cashew butter for the peanut butter and substitute another 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans for the peanuts. For tree nut allergy, remove the tree nuts, but add 1 more cup of chopped peanuts in its place.)


INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups of semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter

  • 3 cups mini marshamllows

  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used both walnuts and pecans)

  • 1/2 cup peanuts (optional)


STEPS:

1. Spray an 8x8 glass pan with nonstick spray (or use a larger pan for thinner treats).

2. Melt together the chocolate chips and peanut butter over low heat on the stove (or in

the microwave at 50% power) until creamy and smooth.

3. Stir in chopped nuts. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add marshmallows and stir to coat. (NOTE: Make sure to let chocolate mixture to cool

a bit so marshmallows remain mostly intact and do not melt.)

5. Spread in pan and refrigerate until firm.


6. Cut into pieces after it has cooled and is firm.

NOTE: If in a hurry, you can put these in the freezer to expedite the firming process.




CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL RODS:

This is another easy and pretty treat to make and share with others. There are endless options for the toppings (sprinkles, crushed white chocolate peppermint, crushed candy canes, chocolate drizzles, mini M&M's, crumbled oreos, candy topping, etc.). Here are some I made when we hosted an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party (pre-kids)...

Package them in adorable little Christmas bags with ribbon for a special treat for neighbors, friends, or as a party favor.


INGREDIENTS:

  • almond bark (1 package each of white and regular chocolate for variety)

  • pretzel rods

  • toppings / sprinkles / crushed candy canes (optional)

  • parchment paper


STEPS:

  1. Lay out parchment paper on the counter/table where you'll be placing your pretzel rods.

  2. Melt the white chocolate almond bark separately from the regular chocolate almond bark so you'll have two different color dipped pretzel rods. You can melt the chocolate over the stovetop on low heat until creamy or in the microwave on 50% power. If using the microwave, I put about 4 pieces of almond bark in a microwave bowl for 1 min 20 seconds at 50% power, stir, then put back in the microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds at 50% power. Stir and repeat another 20-30 seconds if necessary.

  3. Dip your pretzel rods in the melted chocolate to coat, hold for a few seconds to set up, and then lay them down on the parchment paper. While they are still wet (no set up yet), decorate the rods by either sprinkling them with festive sprinkles, crushed candy canes, any other topping, or drizzling them with the opposite color almond bark. You can do all the sides by holding it and sprinkling the toppings onto the pretzel or just one-sided by sprinkling them directly on the parchment paper.




CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BLISS:

This is a for-sure favorite in our home. If you love peanut butter, chocolate and a bit of crunch, this is the treat for you!


They remind me of a version of the Girl Scout cookie, Peanut Butter Patties / Tagalongs. And they are super easy and quick to make too!


INGREDIENTS:

  • almond bark (1 package each of white and regular chocolate for variety)

  • Ritz crackers

  • peanut butter

  • parchment paper


STEPS:

  1. Lay out parchment paper on the counter/table where you'll be placing your cookies.

  2. Make a peanut butter sandwich with the ritz crackers and peanut butter. Just spread a little peanut butter on one cracker and top with another cracker. Repeat for as many cookies as you'd like. I usually make at least 20-30 as these go fast in my house!

  3. Melt the white chocolate almond bark separately from the regular chocolate almond bark so you'll have two different color dipped pretzel rods. You can melt the chocolate over the stovetop on low heat until creamy or in the microwave on 50% power. If using the microwave, I put about 4 pieces of almond bark in a microwave bowl for 1 min 20 seconds at 50% power, stir, then put back in the microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds at 50% power. Stir and repeat another 20-30 seconds if necessary.

  4. Drop your peanut butter ritz cookie into the melted chocolate bowl and use a spatula to flip the cookie over so all sides are coated. Using great tongs that are wider than the cookie makes all the difference in being able to quickly grab your cookie without messing up the cookie, shake off the excess, and move your cookie to the parchment paper. This set of Popco Cooking Tongs are some of my favorites and can be used for many other cooking projects as well.

  5. Move the cookies to the parchment paper. Use a fork and drizzle the cookies with the other color almond bark for a picture perfect cookie that not only tastes great but looks fabulous as well! (NOTE: If the you drizzle the cookie while it is still wet, it will give it a different appearance and look than when they are already set up.)


FANCY TIP: Many people ask me how I make the fancy designs on the cookies... Well you're in luck as I'm not a recipe hoarder and am happy to share my secrets. If you want to be creative and add an extra artistic touch to your cookies, try this approach. Start with a bowl of melted white almond bark, and add a few drizzles of regular chocolate and then add your cookie to gently swirl. Using the tongs, flip the cookie over and gently swirl the cookie while still in the bowl to shake off the excess and create beautiful unique patterns on the cookie.




SWIG SUGAR COOKIE COPYCAT RECIPE

This cookie was on my bucket list of recipes to try. When I saw my friend post a picture of her Swig Copycat Sugar Cookies and mentioned how yummy they were, I knew it was a sign I needed to get baking and try them out! I decorated them with the limited sprinkle decor I had in my kitchen, but I can't wait to make them for other Holidays and birthdays with other fun colors too!


This recipe was originally adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I looked at a few recipes and settled on this one for the fact that it seemed relatively easy, I had most of the ingredients on hand, and the reviews for making it dairy-free were wonderful! I haven't tried the dairy-free version yet, but plan on making those in the next few weeks to give them a try!


Don't let the number of steps fool you - this recipe takes way less time than you'd think and there's no rolling, cutting cookies with cookie cutters, or individually decorating them with multiple colors of frosting, so that in itself is a huge timesaver! I even had my toddler sidekick / sous chef help me and even though this may have added about 3x more time and made 5x more of a mess, they were definitely made with 10x more love (Yes, I'm a cheeseball).


And the fact that these are probably the tastiest sugar cookies I've ever had makes any of the steps worth it. These didn't last long at my house, and I'm sure they won't last long at yours either!



INGREDIENTS (FOR COOKIES):

  • 1 cup butter (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons), softened

  • 3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (canola, vegetable, etc.)

  • 1 1/4 cups (9.25 ounces) granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) powdered sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 5 1/2 cups (27.5 ounces) all-purpose unbleached flour

  • granulated sugar for pressing the cookies


INGREDIENTS (FOR FROSTING):

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces, 12 tablespoons) butter, softened

  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 6 cups (24 ounces) powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk


STEPS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 325°F for convection oven).

  2. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl using a handheld electric mixer), add the butter, oil, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. I love our Kitchenaid Mixer (on Amazon) and use it for most of my baking needs.

  4. Sprinkle the baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt across the top of the sugars (don't add the baking soda and cream of tartar in one lump or it might clump while mixing). Mix until well-combined and super creamy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  5. Add the sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix until well-combined, 1-2 minutes, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  6. Add the flour and mix until no dry streaks remain and the mixture is evenly combined; don't overmix. (NOTE: Be careful not to overflour the dough or the cookies might be dry instead of soft after baking. If you don't weigh your ingredients, make sure to fluff the flour in the container before scooping in the measuring cup and leveling (don't pack or shake the flour into the cup!)

  7. Scoop the dough into about 2-tablespoon sized portions and roll into balls. (Note: You can make them a little smaller or bigger - just adjust for the cooking time as needed.) Place cookies several inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

  8. Add about 1/2 cup granulated sugar to a shallow dish or bowl. Lightly spray the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass with cooking spray and dip the bottom of the glass into the sugar. Press each cookie into an even thickness dipping the bottom of the glass into the sugar between each press (NOTE: No need to spray glass again with cooking spray after the first time). The edges of the cookie will ruffle out a bit. It's really up to you how thick or thin to press the cookies. I like them between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick.

  9. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until just set. Try not to let them get golden on the edges or very much on the bottom - that means they've baked too long and they may be dry and crumbly instead of creamy and soft.

  10. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  11. For the frosting, in a medium bowl (can use a handheld or stand mixer) combine the butter, sour cream and vanilla. Mix until thick and smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and cream (or milk) and mix until well-combined and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add additional cream, if needed, to adjust the consistency of the frosting so it is thick but still soft and spreadable.

  12. Frost the cooled cookies and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

These were huge hits at our home and I'll definitely be making these again! I never got the last picture of my little sous chef with the finished product since these didn't even last a day!

Share the love and make cute cookie tins and treat bags! I usually stock up on cute cookie tins at the end of the season so I'm ready for the next year.


Thanks for reading! While you're in the spirit, check out my Christmas Decorating page for tips, ideas, and holiday decorating how to's! Have a lovely and meaningful Christmas season!!



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