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The holidays are sneaking ever closer every day. For us that means many things, including a lot of baking traditions. Many of the things that we make this time of year stem from old family traditions and tried-and-true favorites. From candy to cookies and all kinds of other baked goods, this time of year definitely means a very busy kitchen.
Unfortunately, it also means busy schedules, which can make it difficult to fit all of that baking in. That’s why I get started early. This week, I’m diving into a few of my favorite slice and bake cookie doughs. They’re great, because I can make the dough now, freeze it, and then slice and bake it when I’m ready. All I have to do is put the roll in the fridge the night before, and it’ll be thawed and ready the next day.
The recipe that I’m sharing with you today was inspired by my mother. She used to bake with cardamom a lot, and to this day, the smell of cardamom instantly reminds me of her though she passed away nearly 12 years ago. The bright citrus taste of the orange works very well with the warm notes of the cardamom, and chocolate always works with orange, so I just couldn’t help myself. It’s a great dough to make ahead, because it not only freezes really well, but it thaws and bakes without sacrificing any flavor or texture.
My secret to getting great cookies from a make-ahead dough is Reynolds Baking Sheets. They’re great for wrapping the dough up before you pack it in freezer bags. The dough unrolls really clean, and the paper helps it hold its shape when you put it in the freezer. The best part is, they are the perfect size to fit your cookie sheets, so it’s quick and easy to prepare the pan before you make the cookies. No cutting, folding or anything is needed.
If you’ve never used Reynolds baking sheets before, you’ll find them in the aisle with the Reynold’s wrap and similar products. I find them at my local Wal-Mart, but you can get them at most any major retailer. I stock up on them regularly, because they’re versatile enough to use for most all of my baking needs – especially through the holidays.
What’s your favorite holiday cookie recipe? We’d love to hear about your favorite make-ahead doughs and make-and-bake doughs! Leave us a comment and tell us which ones you can’t do without this holiday season.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg + 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1-1/2 teaspoons orange zest (about 1 medium orange)
- 2-1/4 cups flour
- Cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
- Stir in the egg and yolks, mixing until it’s all well combined.
- Add the vanilla, salt, cardamom and orange zest and mix until it’s all incorporated.
- Incorporate the flour 1 cup at a time, adding the last quarter cup once the first 2 are well blended.
- Split the dough in half, creating rolls from each half. Place each roll on a Reynold’s baking sheet and wrap them up.
- To save them for later baking, put the wrapped rolls in a freezer bag. They’ll keep for a couple of months.
- Chill the dough you’ll be baking now in the fridge for an hour before you proceed.
- To bake them now, or after thawing, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice the cookie rolls into ¼-inch slices and place them about an inch and a half apart on a cookie sheet lined with a Reynolds baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then slide the baking sheet to a cooling rack to let them cool.
- In the meantime, heat some chocolate chips or dark chocolate candy melts until they’re completely melted. I do it in the microwave in 30-second increments. Put the melted chocolate into a plastic storage bag, snip the tip of the corner off and drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookies. It will harden within a couple of minutes.
- TRY to resist digging in until the chocolate sets!