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Trouble-shooting Holiday Cookies

Terry says: Hi! I wrote to you last year and asked you about baking cookies and you gave me allot of information.  I decided to try making cookies again and I succeed in making  Snow Balls, Twice Baked Cookies and Thumb Prints.  The recipe that I have for Thumb Prints was baking them for 6 minutes, then taking them out and press my thumb into each one and then put the jelly.  Then bake them for 15 minutes.   That was hard to do because you have to work fast.  Do you have any suggestions?  I also made Horns, a recipe that my sister gave me 55yrs ago and she pass away when she was thirty years old.  I made the Horns but they didn’t come out right.   The dough was very sticky and I had to use a lot of flour.  I don’t know what I did wrong, I need your help.

My husband does not want me to bake because he said it was too much work and I shouldn’t be baking at my age.  I’m 84 years old and I’m enjoying baking all these different type of cookies as long as they taste good. Thank you!

Baking S.O.S. says: Thanks so much for your note! I’m glad to hear you are busy baking holiday cookies again this year. You know that saying, “You’re only as old as you feel”? Well, don’t let anyone tell you that you are too old to bake: as long as you are enjoying it, keep it up!

In answer to your questions about the Thumbprint and Horn cookies, I have to admit that I’m not sure I have ever made either of these types of cookies, so I don’t think I can answer your questions from my own experience.

But I looked up a number of recipes on-line for Thumbprint and Horn cookies, and I have some ideas that I think  might help.

For the Thumbprint cookies, I found several recipes that do not require the 2-step process that you described, where you bake the cookies partially before filling them and baking a second time. The recipes I found say to make the thumbprint impressions and fill them with jam before putting the cookies in the oven–while the dough is completely raw. Then you bake the cookies already filled with jam all the way through. I would suggest that you try this process to make it a little easier. That way, you don’t have to work so fast to try to make the thumbprint impressions while the cookies are partially baked and hot.

For the Horn cookies, this is a little bit trickier because there are a number of different ways to make them, so I’m not sure which process you are following. But I do have a few suggestions to keep them from getting too sticky:

First, you should chill the dough in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before you try to work with it. This will help cut down on the stickiness of the dough.

Second, when you roll out the dough. place it between 2 pieces of waxed paper with just a small amount of flour to keep the dough from sticking. I find that rolling out dough between pieces of waxed paper really helps so that you don’t have to add too much flour to the dough.

I hope those suggestions will help. Keep up the baking, and keep the questions coming!