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Each holiday season, BValley Communications gifts it active clients with packages of assorted homemade cookies. In case you can't wait until December, or you merely want to get a taste of our corporate cuisine, here are some of our most popular recipes.


Auntie Mary's
Ladies Home Journal, Twenty Favorites
December 1980

This cookie, our clients' number-one favorite, consists of rich buttery dough encasing a chocolate truffle center, dusted with powdered sugar. I usually double this recipe as it uses the ingredients more efficiently, and there's never been a problem finding someone to eat them. Very rich, and very good!

Dough
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 ounces of cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (about half of a small can)
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Confectioner's sugar to dust cooked bars

Making the dough:
Cream butter, cream cheese and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough into quarters, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate at least two hours or over night.

Making the filling: Melt chocolate in microwave, about 30 seconds on high. Combine with nuts and sweetened condensed milk. Cool to room temperature.

Method: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large (11x16") or several smaller cookie sheets. On a well-floured surface (hint: tape a sheet of freezer paper, dull side up, to the surface and roll the dough out on that to minimize cleanup), roll each ball of dough into a 10x6" rectangle. Spread 1/4 of filling lengthwise down the center of the dough, then flip both long sides of dough over filling, like folding a business letter, to encase it. This is easier to do if you use a dough scraper or wide spatula. Using that same dough scraper or spatula, transfer roll to cookie sheet. (Four rolls will fit on one 11x16" cookie sheet). Cook for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while warm and again when cooled. Cut each roll into 12 slices.


Walnut Refrigerator Cookies
Good Housekeeping: Santa's Cookie Cookbook
December 198? issue

I originally made these because I loved the taste of the unbaked dough. Since then, I've become far more sophisticated – but these cookies are still a welcome, not-too-sweet-counterpoint to the other cookies in the assortment. The dough can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for as long as a week before slicing and baking.

1 3/4 cup walnuts, one cup chopped, rest left whole for garnish.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg

Mix together all ingredients except nuts (I prefer to blend the moist ingredients and the dry ingredients in separate bowls, then work the dry ingredients into the moist ones.) Mix in the 1 cup chopped nuts. Divide dough into 3, five-inch long rolls and wrap each in waxed paper. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm enough to slice cleanly.

To bake: Grease large cookie sheet. Slice one roll of dough crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place slices, one inch apart, on cookie sheet. Press reserved whole walnut into each cookie. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until browned. Store in a tightly covered container. Makes six dozen.


Aunt Blanche's Butter Spritz Cookies
Appeared in a Lands End Catalogue ca.
1990, in a feature on employees' Christmas cookie recipes.

This recipe is really, really delicious, but it can be problematic. It does not call for eggs, which may explain why sometimes I need to use a lot more flour to get the dough to the right consistency than I do at other times. Or maybe the weather outside impacts how the dough behaves. Nevertheless, the goal is to have dough at a consistency that resembles Play-Doh – not dry but not sticky. Start with two cups and add flour a little at a time. Press dough through a cookie press (such as Mirro). The results should prove worth the effort.

1 pound (four sticks) real butter (no substitute)
1 cup powdered sugar
Somewhere between 2 and 3 cups all purpose flour (see above)
1/2 teaspoon (or more) of vanilla or (my strong preference) real almond extract
Food coloring, if desired, to tint dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend ingredients until they are the consistency of Play-Doh; not sticky, but not dry or crumbly. If using food coloring, it is easiest to mix moist ingredients together with food coloring and then add dry ingredients. Press dough with Mirro (or other) cookie press, onto ungreased baking sheets. If using colored sugars or nonpareils, decorate cookies now.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set and lightly golden. Use spatula to remove from baking sheets to cool on waxed paper on counter. Ice and decorate cookies, if desired, when cool.


Rich Rolled Sugar Cookies
From The Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies
by Ethan Becker (Scribner, 1996)

This dough is delicious, easy to work with, and is sturdy enough to handle the really big cookie cutters without breaking. Use butter in these cookies since the flavor comes from little else. This is a good, basic recipe.

Cream
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
(or my strong preference) real almond extract

Combine and add:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix dough and flatten into a disk. Wrap disk in waxed paper and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight before rolling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.

Roll dough out to about 1/4" thickness using floured rolling pin. (Hint: tape a large sheet of freezer paper, dull side up, to a flat surface and roll dough on that. The flour will be held in the surface of the paper, so it's easier to avoid having the dough stick. My grandma used a pastry cloth for essentially the same purpose. When you're through, just roll the paper up and discard it, shortcutting cleanup by a mile.) Cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Cool and decorate.


Tink Bars
Formal origin unknown – these have been in our family since before recorded history. My aunt got this recipe from a friend who said it was a favorite of her husband, Tink. These are quick to make, taste like a Heath bar, and look like you fussed, but you really didn't. Pretty much a perfect cookie, I'd say.

Dough Base
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk (make a little tiny meringue with the white)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping
12 ounces (approx.) milk chocolate chips
Finely chopped pecans (sometimes called Pecan Meal - about 1/2 a cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a jelly roll pan, 13x9x2" Mix butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. Blend in flour and salt. Press dough into the bottom of the pan. It will be a little sticky at first, but be patient. Bake dough base for 25-30 minutes.

While dough base is in oven, melt chocolate chips in microwave, about 60 seconds on high. Stir to check progress – the chips will hold their shape even when melted. If a few chips are not yet melted, the heat of the rest of the chocolate will melt them as you stir. It's very important not to overheat the chocolate because it can become grainy or burn. Leave melted chips in a warm place (e.g., on top of the stove) until the dough is ready.

Remove dough base from oven and carefully spread melted chocolate chips over base with a broad knife or (better) a rubber spatula. At this point the dough will be delicate. Sprinkle pecan meal over the chocolate layer. It is important to spread the chocolate right away – if dough has a chance to cool, the chocolate layer will delaminate from the base cookie dough. If you are unable to spread the chocolate right away, then spread the chocolate and put the sheet back in the over for a minute or two to make sure the chocolate is fully melted into the cookie layer.

Cut into 1 " squares when cool. Makes about four dozen.