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Video: Ho-ho-ho! Santa’s Christmas treats

TODAY recipes
updated 12/20/2010 6:47:04 PM ET 2010-12-20T23:47:04

Recipe: Animal sugar Christmas cookies

  • For the cookies:
  • 1 16.5-ounce tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough, like Pillsbury
  • 1/4 cup flour, plus extra for dusting
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 stick, or 4 ounces, of room-temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water, plus extra, as needed
  • Assorted food coloring
  • Decorating suggestion: Multi-colored sprinkles, colored decorating sugar, mini chocolate chips, small candies, mini marshmallows

Note: If using natural food coloring, be sure to shake the bottle before adding the coloring to the frosting.

To make the cookies:
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the cookie dough and flour until smooth. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick.

Using animal-shaped cookie cutters, cut out shapes from the dough and place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Form the scraps of dough into a ball, roll out to 1/4-inch thick, and continue to cut out animal-shapes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown.

Cool for two minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, which takes about 15 minutes.

To make the frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, which takes about 20 seconds. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup water. Beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is smooth, adding more water, as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time until the frosting is spreadable.

Divide the frosting between three small bowls. Color the frosting by mixing in one drop of food coloring at a time until the desired color is reached. Spread the frosting over the cooled cookies and decorate.

Serving Size

Yields 16 cookies

Recipe: Ham, Gruyere and apple panini

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 8 1/2-inch-thick slices country-style white bread
  • 2 cups, or 8 ounces, shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 8 slices Black Forest ham

In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are slightly soft, which takes about four minutes. Cool for five minutes.

Preheat a panini press. Spread each bread slice with 1 tablespoon mustard. Arrange 1/4 cup of cheese on each of the four bread slices and top with two slices of ham.

Divide the apple mixture evenly and place on top of the ham. Add the remaining cheese and place the remaining four bread slices on top.

Grill until the cheese has melted and the tops are golden and crispy, which takes about five to six minutes.

Serving Size

Yields four servings

Recipe: Ginger, honey and apple martini

  • For the ginger simple syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • For the martini:
  • 1.5 cups 100 percent apple juice, chilled
  • 1 cup dark rum, chilled
  • 1/2 cup club soda or sparkling water, chilled
  • 1 red apple, unpeeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • Ice

To make the ginger simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and ginger over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, which takes about 20 minutes. Strain before using.

To make the martini:
In a pitcher, combine the ginger simple syrup, apple juice, rum and sparkling water.

Fill a martini shaker with ice and add about 1 cup of the rum mixture. Shake well and pour into martini glasses.

Garnish with apple slices and serve.

Serving Size

Yields four to six cups

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