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Simple Servings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Carol Cogliano
Hollabaugh Bros., Inc.

(12/2016) Well folks…it’s here. The holiday season is upon us, whether we are ready for it, or not. It used to be that stores would at least wait until after Thanksgiving to bring out their holiday merchandise...but nowadays, we’re lucky to make it through Halloween before seeing a stocking hung or a box of candy canes out for sale. And don’t get me started on the radio stations…

But it’s here now, and we need to get things ready! Our schedules are filling up with Christmas shopping, decorating and baking: all of the preparations needed to ensure that our families will have a wonderful holiday, right? (Have I completely stressed you out yet?)

We’ve heard it all before – it’s not about the gifts and the "things", it’s about keeping the true meaning of the season in mind and spending quality time with our friends and family. It’s cliché because it’s true. I challenge you to take a few hours in the weeks to come, and spend some relaxing time in the kitchen. Not the scurrying around that you do, preparing your holiday meal… not the last-minute cookie baking that you do in order to send your child into school with a little something for their teacher… I mean semi-planned, relaxing time in the kitchen. Involve your spouse or children (if you think that would be fun, and not too chaotic), turn on some Christmas music and just enjoy how baking holiday cookies – for your own enjoyment – can become a holiday tradition that you will crave from year to year.

Dust off your recipe box for some old family favorites, or turn to the internet to look for something new, but do it. Make the time. Form memories in the kitchen with your families this holiday season – because unlike most of the "stuff" that is apt to come your way on Christmas Day, the fun memories of time spent together will last a lifetime.

Buttery Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe courtesy of:

These Buttery Jam Thumbprint Cookies are so light and fluffy – they simply melt in your mouth! They are easy to put together and require ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Use a variety of jams to have a cookie plate full of different colors and flavors!


  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar, plus ¼ cup more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup fruit preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 325EF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, blend butter and sugar until fluffy and light, 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt, scraping down bowl as needed. Switch to low and gently mix in flour, just until combined. Don't over mix.
  3. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Press down the center of each ball with a spoon (or your thumb!) making a slight depression.
  4. Fill cookie centers with a teaspoonful of preserves. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffy, but take care not to overbake. Let cool a few minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to finish cooling on wire rack.
  5. When cookies are completely cooled, dust with confectioners' sugar. Cookies can be kept in airtight container at room temp for a few days.

Checkerboard Cookies

Recipe courtesy of:

Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly complicated instructions…taken step-by step, these Checkerboard Cookies are a clever way to get to get two (or more) colors into one cookie. Use the vanilla/cocoa approach (as listed) or tint the two portions of dough with two festive colors instead -- Red and green for the holidays, or your favorite sports team’s colors…the possibilities are endless!


  1. 1 lb. unsalted butter
  2. 1 c. sugar
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 1 egg white
  5. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. ¼ tsp. salt
  7. 5 c. flour
  8. 3 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa (or red & green food coloring, to vary layers)


  1. Make the dough: Beat the butter using a mixer set on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat until pale and fluffy. Add the whole eggs one at a time and blend in the vanilla. Combine the salt and flour and stir it into the butter mixture. Remove half of the dough and set aside. Mix the cocoa into the remaining dough on low speed, until fully incorporated. Pat the vanilla and the chocolate doughs each into an 11- by 9-inch rectangle. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm.
  2. Make the checkerboards: Brush the vanilla dough with egg white and place the chocolate dough on top. Press gently and cut in half lengthwise. Brush one half with egg white and stack the remaining half on top, making certain the vanilla and chocolate doughs alternate. Cut the resulting stack in half lengthwise and set one stack aside. Slice one stack into thirds lengthwise and flip the middle stack over; lightly brush the sides with egg white and gently press together to form a checkerboard-patterned log. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm. Repeat with the remaining stack.
  3. Bake the cookies: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking pans with parchment paper. Slice a checkerboard log crosswise into 1/4-inch cookies. Place the cookies on the baking pans, 1 inch apart, until firm -- 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate pans once while baking. Cool completely on a rack. Cookies can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

Timesaver: Make Marbled Cookies: Shape vanilla and chocolate dough into ropes. Twist together for a swirled effect. Chill, slice, and bake.

Easy Christmas Peppermint Patties

Recipe courtesy of:

This no-bake option isn’t a cookie, but a mint that can add a pop of color to any festive cookie tray. Whip up a batch – or two! Try different colors and different extract flavors to suit your taste. Raspberry, Almond and Peppermint make great options for Red, White and Green mints.


  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • a cup light corn syrup
  • 3 - 4 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 - 2 tsp peppermint extract or mint extract OR any other extract you want food coloring - preferably gel or paste
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (to roll balls in)


  1. Combine butter and corn syrup together in a small bowl.
  2. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and your choice of extract and mix until well combined. Add extract ½ teaspoon at a time until the mixture reaches your desired flavor.
  3. Stir in an additional cup of powdered sugar.
  4. Turn bowl onto a cutting board sprinkled with another half a cup of powdered sugar. Knead the mixture until sugar is absorbed and is completely smooth, adding additional powdered sugar if needed.
  5. Divide dough into three portions.
  6. Tint one portion red with the red food color/gel and one green. Leave one portion white.
  7. Shape into ¾ inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Flatten gently with a fork.
  8. Let candies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 day.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Carol Cogliano is the Director of Events at Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. which is located at 545 Carlisle Road, Biglerville, PA 17307. Visit for a full listing of their upcoming events and classes or call 717-677-8412 for more information.

Read other articles by Carol Cogliano