Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Balls & December's Give-Away

I may not have our tree up yet or much decorating done--and probably won't for another couple of weeks, but I certainly can add some holiday color to our table with this plate of Christmas Balls!  I'm still knee-deep in work to complete this week, so this recipe had to be quick to make.  I relied on my tried & true shortbread cookie recipe, sans the chocolate chips, and instead, rolled them in colorful sparkling sugars.  A little almond flavored buttercream to seal them together and voila'!

Christmas Balls
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
2 tsp. vanilla extract + 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
pinch of kosher salt
4 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the vanilla(s) and salt and beat again on medium, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the flour, one-half at a time, beating well to combine.  Finish by beating 1 minute more so you have a soft, but not sticky dough.  

I used a bun pan to sort out the colors I would be using to roll the dough in.
 Use a 2 tsp. scoop to measure dough and roll in the sparkling sugar.
Bake for 12 minutes.  The bottom of the cookies should be a golden brown.

Let cool slightly, then remove to a rack to cool completely.  When you're finished baking, make the buttercream.

Buttercream
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 -3 T heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. almond extract

Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the extract and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and beat again.  Add additional heavy cream to give a soft filling.  Spread with an off-set spatula or pipe, which I like to do.


These cookies will freeze easily, so they make the perfect do-ahead cookie for the holidays.  My mom and I use to make up cookies and place them in the closet that had the garage on the other side so it was like having a "walk-in" refrigerator.  The only problem was to make sure my brothers didn't get in to them! Enjoy!

This month's apron does have a holiday feeling with pine boughs, berries, and one of my dad's favorites, the Cardinal.  By making a comment on any of the posts, you will be entered to win this apron!  Let's be jolly, XOXO

62 comments:

  1. Susan, I don't need to read my cookery books for inspiration, I read your blog instead. My family are going to love these little balls. Thank you so much. xxx
    PS They will have to go in the freezer or George will eat them all before Christmas!

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    1. Thank you, Elaine, that means a lot. I know what you mean; these went into the freezer so my hubby wouldn't get into them too! He's Scottish and shortbread is definitely his weakness:-D

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  2. Susan, these cookies are so very festive and pretty! I am sure we will love them.

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    1. ...and I'm sure you will make them even prettier! I just love your blog; you should be a food stylist! XOXO

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  3. Wow, what fun! I've never done shortbread in any shape but flat (or in a mold, also flat). Will have to give these a whirl. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. They bake up beautifully and don't flatten out too much so you do get a nice little dome to make them look like balls. I loved adding the filling, which made them even more special! Have a wonderful week, dear friend, XOXO

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  4. Oh, that's a fabulous idea..and an apron with birds..whoohoo!
    Jane x

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    Replies
    1. Besides flowers, birds are my weakness too! I definitely have a little Tasha Tudor in me!! Stay warm, dear friend and have a wonderful week, XOXO

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  5. Great idea! And I love the festive apron :-)

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    1. I debated over whether to make the apron "generic", but these birds and boughs just spoke to me...loud and clear. Besides my dad, his brother, my Uncle Lou, loved cardinals too and this will be the first Christmas without him. I imagine that was on my mind when I saw this fabric. XOXO

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  6. I can remember making these Christmas balls in Home Ec...years ago, when I was a teenager! They melt in your mouth! And what a beautiful apron for this month. I love cardinals! Enjoy your week and all of the holiday fun! Sweet hugs!

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    Replies
    1. I remember making what we called Christmas Bon Bon's in Home Ec...really years ago!! Next week, I will start decorating, after I bring our new kitty home; this week is more work!!

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  7. Shortbread is one of my favorites after lemon or ginger. your christmas balls would brighten up any table.
    stamping sue
    http://stampingsueinconnecticut.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. My hubby's too! But these definitely will be in the Christmas Cookie boxes this year! XOXO

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    2. Susan!!! I made your recipe for the banana pumpkin muffins you did with Ari but I couldn't find pumpkin pudding but found gingerbread pudding. I changed the spice from cinnamon to a little ginger & nutmeg and they are delious! I made the muffins last night and half of them are gone! thanks!

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  8. Replies
    1. If I had time for a Christmas Open House this year, these definitely would be on the dessert table! Just a new way to "dress" up shortbread for the holidays, XOXO

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  9. Wow these are so festive! Love the colors! Pretty apron and cardinals are a favorite of mine also!

    hugs, Linda

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    Replies
    1. Cardinals were so abundant in Kentucky. When I was there taking care of Kelly, Ari and I would go out in the backyard and we'd watch them come to the feeders. He'd say, "look at that red bird!!" They're my favorite too!

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  10. They look almost too pretty to eat! I'm looking forward to a few days or marathon cookie baking the weekend before Christmas, these will definitely be on the list this year :-)

    Sending love and ladybug hugs your way!
    xoxox, Kat

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    Replies
    1. You're way ahead of schedule; I need to take your time management course:-D!! Happy baking, dear friend, XOXO

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  11. SO CUTE! Yes, shouty capitals my friend!! I bet they taste amazing and so very, very festive. :) Great pictures, too! I thought they were on sticks when I first saw the pictures, kinda like lolly pops. Just lovely!! Lv, me

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    Replies
    1. A very quick, but colorful cookie to make during this busy week; which I'm hoping will settle down when I get things shipped tomorrow:-D

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  12. What beautiful Christmas cookies Susan. So colorful and festive. Your new apron is lovely-cardinals-someone is going to love it. xoxo ♥ Martha Ellen

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    Replies
    1. There's nothing in the rule book that you can't win more than one!! Just saying...

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  13. These are such pretty cookies! So festive with the sparkle!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sue, Happy Christmas to you and your family!

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  14. Those cookies are so pretty and festive, and I'm sure they taste as great as they look!

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    Replies
    1. I've already done two batches for the cookie boxes--they freeze beautifully!

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  15. Susan,
    Eat them??? They are too pretty :) Who needs decorations when you have these cookies! Love them!
    Hugs,
    Donna

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    Replies
    1. These cookies are some of the prettiest I've made...also easy...and also delish!!

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  16. Susan, What a great idea for Christmas cookies. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Joyous Wishes, Linda

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    1. Happy Holidays to you and your family too. XOXO

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  17. The cake balls look fantastic! I love the sugar you used on them. The apron is beautiful, as always. I'm determined to win one! :) Have a fantastic day!

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  18. Oh they look as if they'd be very tasty and they definitely are pretty. Another wonderful apron! I don't know how you do this every month. Truly an amazing gift of your talents, time, and money.

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    1. I've been an insomniac since Kelly passed away, so I make good use of my time instead of tossing and turning in bed:-) It's going to come in handy with all I have left to do for Christmas!

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  19. I looked out the upstairs window this morning and saw a big splotch of red--thought something had blown into the yard--then it turned, and it was a gorgeous big cardinal!

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    1. I have to laugh because my hubby says, "Look at that red bird!!" He's such a city boy!! XOXO

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  20. Wow, Susan, those balls are so pretty!!!

    And guess what? You won my giveaway! Go check out my blog post today. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Natalie--this is a treat!!

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  21. Hey...Congrats on being part of The Daily Meal, my friend! We have great company!! Lv, me

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  22. Another gorgeous apron Susan, and the cookies look very festive!
    Feeling pretty low. Had to put my cat to sleep this week, and I was away visiting my Mom at the time. Hard to come home to an empty house. Glad I have blogs to visit to occupy some time.... I know you understand the rough time I'm having.
    DeniseB

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    Replies
    1. I know just how you're feeling. I flew to Missouri yesterday to bring home a 8 1/2 year old female Ragdoll cat because I was missing having one around. They really are such comfort and joy! Gentle thoughts for your loss; I do know how much you're missing her/him. XOXO

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  23. Very festive, colorful cookies, Susan. Great job.

    The apron is pretty, too. Can you put my name into the hat? Thanks.

    Looking forward to the manger scene post.

    Thanks for all your visits and comments, too. Love them. Susan

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  24. I love your blog, I could read it forever each and everyday, love the apron it is lovely and festive...My name is mary jane s. from momanddad00@clear.net..it is cold and raining and damp for most of 200 days, we figure we had 112 days of sunshine and warmth this year so snow, ice and horrible weather is coming, brrr...the days make me kind of depressed but I catch sometime walking outside each and everyday and rejoice I don't live in a country where I cannot breathe and bake and enjoy helping others..Happy Hanukkah and merriest of Christmases..ciao mjs!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. I'm jumping over to view your blog--love the name. XOXO

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  25. I can't read your blog without my mouth starting to water,,you make everything look so good...love the apron because for one thing, I really like Cardinals..thanks for the chance to win..

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    1. They are a favorite and just seem to go with the holidays. Good luck...it may "wing" it's way right to you:-D

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  26. Hello Susan,

    I wrote you back in October on a post about Kelly. I am the former classmate from MHC who has relocated to Redmond. I was going to email you but cannot find your address on the website. Could you tell me where to find it?

    Gale

    P.S. Those cookies are so pretty. My son would love them.

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    Replies
    1. my email address is: STierneyC@aol.com

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    2. Gale can you send the email message again to me...it was picked up in my spam and got deleted before I realized it was from you:-( Thanks!

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  27. Have just found your site and will have to spend more time reading it, when I have more time! Time of year might have something to do with this lack of time. Love the apron.

    Maria

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  28. Hello Susan,
    I'd love to participate in your giveaway please I really could do with a gorgeous apron like that!!! :-)
    Those cookies look decidedly exotic even Moorish in style bet they are just as exotic to eat too Mmmmmmm !

    keep well

    Amanda :-)

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  29. These look delicious! Your aprons are lovely too! You are talented at baking, cooking and sewing! Wow!

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