THE GREAT INDOORS: Cake mix makes Christmas baking a breeze
One thing I’ve learned from my years of holiday baking is to simplify when you can. For example, I found out the hard way that when you spend hours baking cookies, the last thing you’re in the mood to do is spend hours decorating them. Some days I’m in the mood to bake elaborate recipes – other days I’m in the mood to decorate. But never both at the same time, or you’ll get a tired, crabby me who might end up chucking the whole ordeal in favor of a cup of spiked eggnog and a rerun of “Chopped.”
One of the easiest ways to simplify Christmas cookie baking is with cake mix cookies – yummy, chewy cookies which normally take just three ingredients: cake mix, oil and eggs. In fact, while recipes vary, most of the time you can just follow the directions on the back of the box in terms of amounts of egg and oil and simply omit the water. By combining the cake mix, oil and egg, you get a thick dough, rather than the runny batter you’d get from adding water. Any cake mix works, but for holiday cookies, I like spice cake mix.
Because this was an “I’m-in-the-mood-to-decorate day” I had a little fun creating melted snowman cookies with the help of some cake mix, candy, Oreos and marshmallows. These cookies are big and full of sugar so they’ll go a long way in satisfying your Christmas sweet tooth.
Cake Mix Melted Snowman Cookies
1 boxed cake mix (any flavor)
Ingredients listed (except water) on back of box, usually vegetable oil and eggs
1 small tub white frosting
1 red fruit roll up
2 orange gummy candies
40-50 mini M&Ms
8 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups
4 Oreo cookies
8 large marshmallows
16 pretzel sticks
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare cake mix according to directions, but omit the water. Combine oil, egg and mix to form dough. Roll dough into approximately 8 large balls and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Flatten balls slightly using either your hands or the bottom of a glass. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool.
Once cookies are cool, spread frosting to look like two melted balls of snowman. Don’t worry about being neat – glop on the frosting to look like melted snow. Microwave a large marshmallow for about 7 seconds. Using a spoon (the marshmallow will be too hot to handle) place the marshmallow on one end of the cookie. The marshmallow is supposed to be the snowman’s head. Immediately, form eyes and mouth using the M&M’s.
Cut orange candy to look like a carrot for the snowman’s nose. Add M&Ms for buttons. Add pretzel sticks for arms. Cut a fruit roll up into a scarf and wrap around neck.
Separate the Oreo cookies and discard the creme filling (or eat it, if you’re into that kind of thing). Place a dollop of frosting on the middle of the cookie and top with a peanut butter cup, larger end down to make his top hat. Carefully place on the side of the marshmallow. Let set until marshmallow is cool.
Readers can reach Tracy Briggs at (701) 451-5632.