Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preparing For Christmas Baking Season

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is doing all kinds of special things in the kitchen. Every year I typically make at least 8 different varieties of cookies, candies, fudge, and caramel & chocolate covered pretzels. Last year, I also added homemade pierogi to that rotation. I also baked 20 dozen cookies in 1 1/2 days last year for a client of Eric's who had requested them. And every year I regret that I didn't get started sooner.

My eyes and stomach also seem to be bigger than what I know is reality. So I plan for about 20 varieties of cookies. Yet every year, I run out of time to get to all of them. And invariably, some of the ones I don't get to are some of our favorites. (Since they are all our favorites, this probably isn't a fair statement, but it is still disappointing.)

So this year I am vowing that it will be different. There are so many varieties of cookie dough that can be frozen ahead of time. I have already created my list and I plan on starting next week. My goal is to get at least 1 or 2 doughs in the freezer per week. (A chest freezer would certainly help this year. I might have to ask a neighbor if I could borrow some freezer space.) I have already marked which cookie doughs can be frozen ahead of time. Also, we will be going to my family's for Thanksgiving and not seeing them at Christmas. I would still like to be able to give them their boxes of cookies though. An early start is definitely a necessity this year.

Here is my list so far. I'm sure it will change many times between now and Christmas, especially as I come across new recipes. (With all the wonderful recipes I have been finding on blogs lately, I wouldn't be surprised if only a few absolute favorites stay on the list.) The doughs that can be frozen are marked with an (F).

  1. Kolacky (F)
  2. Maple Pecan cookies
  3. Almond Spritz cookies (F)
  4. Candy Cane cookies (F)
  5. Melting Moments (F)
  6. Santa's Whiskers (F)
  7. Chocolate Pecan Logs (F)
  8. Peanut Butter cookies w/ Hershey's kisses (F)
  9. Mexican Wedding Balls (F)
  10. Pizelles
  11. Snickerdoodles (F)
  12. Sugar cookie cut outs (F)
  13. Gingerbread (F)
  14. Eggnog Crescents (F)
  15. Peppermint Snowballs (F)
  16. Honey & Poppy Seed Hearts (F)
  17. Chocolate Reindeer (F)
  18. Maple Log Cabins (F)
  19. Eggnog Thumbprints (F)
  20. Orange Chocolate Rounds (F)
I will post the recipes for each cookie as it gets crossed off the list. If you see one that you'd like the recipe for, please just let me know and I'll get it posted as soon as possible.

Most cookie doughs can be frozen. Generally, if the dough is supposed to be chilled before handling, I know without a doubt that it can be frozen. Otherwise, as long as the dough is firm, I assume it will be fine in the freezer. I haven't encountered any problems with this method.

I thought about making the cookies ahead of time and freezing them. First of all, they will take up too much room in my freezer. And secondly, nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit like the smell of cookies baking. I don't want to lose that feeling.

I'm kind of excited to have this long-thought of plan in place for this year. I am really sure that it will work for me.

To find more Works For Me Wednesday, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.


A Frugal Friend 9:26 PM  

Just reading the list of cookies is getting me in the mood for Christmas. I have never heard of the Santa Whiskers or Maple Log Cabins, so I can't wait to see your recipes and what they look like. I may have to start a list too! :-)

Blessed Mommy 5:56 AM  

Looking forward to the recipes. With the start of Fall, thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Thanks for the reminder to get those lists started.

Homesteader in Training 6:09 AM  

I LOVE baking for Christmas. I always thought it would be fun to do it with someone but someone better have a bigger kitchen than mine lol. Your list of cookies looks fabulous. I've switched out a few off my list last year for some new ones that are making it back to the list this year. I'll probably post them on my cooking blog.

Anonymous,  6:27 AM  

I have also already been in the Christmas planning mode. It sucks the joy right out of the holidays when you're stressed and I vowed that will not happen this year!

I had not thought about freezing cookie dough ahead of time. I will add that to my list of things to do to get prepared for the holidays. It's a great idea!!

Due to the severe nut allergies of my 3 year old I can't even have any of them in the house. Your recipes that have nuts sound so good...I miss nuts around the holiday (well, I do have my relatives!!).

I recently discovered your blog and have really been enjoying it!!

Elizabeth 8:33 AM  

This is a fantastic idea! I am putting together several baskets full of cookies, breads, muffins, and candy to give out to neighbors, family, and friends. We are just too broke to buy everyone a gift this year. Your freezing dough ahead of time idea can save me so much time in the future!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki 9:37 AM  

I haven't even heard of half of these cookies, so I am really looking forward to seeing these recipes!


I think I'm gonna bake some snickerdoodles (a fave of ours) later just to get that Christmas smell in here. Mmmmmm.....

Anonymous,  10:17 AM  

You're making me tired, Kate! lol We love Christmas baking, too, and a lot of your cookies sound familiar. I might have a few to add to your list. ;-)

Gayle 11:51 AM  

I remember when I used to do the same...bake multiple kinds of cookies to give plates at Christmastime. That was when I was the mother to three. The family grew to eight and it wasn't managable. Now we are back down to six (two step-kids moved to their mother's) and it might be possible. The things is this group eats them as fast as I make them so nothing would ever last long enough to be a gift! :) I think your long range plan will work great just don't wait until the last minute to bake. The oven only goes so fast! :) I can smell your cookies now....

Lora 1:13 PM  

Sounds like a great plan! I'll look forward to those recipes!

Krista 3:23 PM  

I love Christmas baking! And I also make pierogis during the holidays & usually at Easter....are you Polish or Ukrainian by any chance? I just haven't met too many people who even know what pierogis are, let alone know how to make them!

Kirby3131 4:16 PM  

Good thing I already have your blog on my Google Reader! This way I won't miss a single cookie recipe.

I don't make very many cookie recipes, only because I don't have many people to give them to - but each Christmas since 2005 we have gone to the Transplant Center (for heart, lung and liver transplants) at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and handed out cookies to the patients and staff. My husband had a liver transplant in '05 and spent Christmas in the hospital. So we go back each year now.

Maybe this year I'll be inspired to make a few more kinds :)

Come by my place today as I'm having a Birthday Week giveaway & WFMW post combined.
Have a fabulous day!

Laura 4:41 PM  

Yum!! how fun and exciting! I'm getting pretty excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your cookie list sounds SO GOOD!

Grammy 8:42 PM  

yummy I want to come to your house for the holidays. What wonderful treats your planning.

KrustyTheCat 9:05 PM  

I love to bake for Christmas, and usually make do with less food in our freezer to fit all the baked goods, lol! I really need to get a chest freezer. I can't wait to get started!!

Jendeis 9:48 PM  

What a great idea! Looking forward to seeing the cookie recipes - my mouth is already watering for those Hershey Kisses cookies. :)

Sonshine 10:54 PM  

ohhhh I can't wait to see some of those recipes! :)

Also, I know the feeling of having great plans of baking only to run out of time! I have been known to make Christmas type cookies after the first of the year. :)

Hope you are enjoying your week. :)

Allison 11:06 PM  

I have always wanted to freeze cookie dough, but afraid to try it! I don't want to go to all the effort, and realize in December that I did something wrong!

So, I'm so excited to follow your posts, and to get some new recipes!

Thanks for sharing!!

Michie 8:12 PM  

I've been thinking that I might like to try and do this too. I have no idea how long most cookie doughs can be frozen - and then what do you do when you want to bake them? How do you go about defrosting them?

Kate 12:28 AM  

Michie, thanks for asking. From what I've read, most cookie doughs can be frozen for up to 6 months. For defrosting them, I pull them out the night before I want to bake them and let the dough thaw in the fridge.

Michie 7:01 PM  

Thanks for the info! I can't wait to see your recipes!

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