Christmas in July

Now that I'm married I've decided to be a cookie queen at Christmas. Last year I tried about eight new cookie recipes, and while that may not be a lot for many of you, it sure was a lot for me! (I also made Christmas morning breakfast for my immediate family, which continues to grow with weddings and babies, and I had my entire family over for lunch. Well, my mother's side, that is.) Most of the recipes were successes; a few I didn't much care for, and although some people asked for the recipe, I won't be making them again; and others will become traditions.

So why am I talking about Christmas now? In July? First, it's never too early to plan for Christmas and besides, it's not that far off! OK. Kidding - I don't want to send any of you into pre-holiday breakdown mode. Second, I'm participating in Nihowera's Mid-Winter Christmas Feast 2007, and when I ran across this Southern Living recipe I knew it was a keeper.

When I think of Christmas cookies I immediately think of powdered sugar. I have little doubt that it's so very popular because it's so snowy looking, but it also is just so darn pretty that everybody wants a little powdered-sugar happiness on their holiday tables. Right? Right. These cookies deliver, but I'll tell you right now that they're very crunchy (and great with a glass of milk. I'm sure that Santa would be pleased with them.) They're made of powdered sugar, cocoa and flour, not granulated sugar, which was a new take on baking for me. Does that have something to do with the crunchiness? Probably, but I'm too much of a novice to know for sure! I'll have to look that one up ...

This is a small recipe - I only got about 3 dozen cookies out of it, so we kept them all at home except for the few I gave to my cubicle partner at work and the few I sent out in the field with Brad. And, OK, I ate a few. I'm not going to be thrilled with weigh-in next week, but that's life. I mean they're chocolate cookies. And I can never say no to those!

Chocolate Cookies Bites (printer friendly,
Originally from Southern Living Magazine, July 2007

3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once halfway through baking time.
3. Beat 1 cup powdered sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add milk and vanilla, beating until blended.
4. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in pecans.
5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
6. Bake at 400° for 11 to 13 minutes or until tops of cookies just begin to crack. Cool on baking sheets 3 minutes. Remove to wire racks; dust with remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Cool 10 minutes.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen

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