Blue-ribbon cookies for all tastes

Blue-Ribbon Cookies

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The best prize cookies can win is happy taste buds.

As you read this, the Grant County Fair will have started, and those of us who judge baked goods at the fair will have had the opportunity to taste all the entries this year to award ribbons. My favorites are always the cookies. When I started judging at the fair 23 years ago, I was assigned the kids cookie section. I handled 144 entries that day. I had the chance to see beginning bakers on their first attempts at baking (likely with Mom or Dad) to teenagers who have free range in the kitchen to do whatever they want. Yes, some were better than others, but I learned that you try and encourage the kids to do better, if needed, with helpful suggestions, rather than listing out any faults with no comments.

To freshen up my appreciation for cookies, I made up a batch of peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.


PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl sift to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl beat together peanut butter, butter, and sugars until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla. Combine flour mixture with peanut butter mixture, scrapping the sides of the bowl to insure batter is well blended. Cover bowl with plastic and chill for 20 minutes. Drop tablespoon sized pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press with a fork dipped in extra sugar, to flatten the dough. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.


CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, then add sugars and eggs. Dissolve soda in water; mix into butter and sugar. Stir in flour and salt. Add nuts, chocolate and vanilla and mix well. Drop half-teaspoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.


SNOWBALL COOKIES

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients together. Roll mixture in ball in the size of a walnut.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. When slightly cool, roll in powdered sugar until well coated. When cool, recoat.


BUTTER COOKIES

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter with salt until soft. Blend in sugar 1/4 cup at a time until fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond. Stir in flour. Pack dough in cookie press. Press on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes. Cookie should be set and not brown.


SHORTBREAD COOKIES

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add flour and salt and knead dough until it pulls away from side of bowl. Press dough into a ungreased cookie sheet with sides. Spread evenly to the corners. Poke with a fork at 1 inch intervals. Bake for one hour or until lightly golden. While hot, cut into rectangles or small squares. Let cool.


MOLASSES COOKIES

  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth, then stir in the molasses. Add the sifted ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. If the dough is too soft, more flour can be added. Cut out cookies using cookie cutters and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


CHOCOLATE NO BAKE COOKIES

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups oatmeal

Mix shortening, sugar, water and cocoa together, bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and oatmeal. Drop on wax paper and let harden.

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