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Published November 13, 2013, 11:00 PM

The Great Indoors: Send in your "Best Christmas Cookie" recipes

As a kid, one of my favorite things to do leading up to Christmas – second only to watching “White Christmas” for the umpteenth time – was eating my mom’s Christmas cookies.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

As a kid, one of my favorite things to do leading up to Christmas – second only to watching “White Christmas” for the umpteenth time – was eating my mom’s Christmas cookies.

She didn’t make many different kinds. For us, her spritz cookies were enough. She’d take the traditional recipe and add just a touch more almond extract. The almond flavor was always strong, and we loved it. To us, it was simply the taste of Christmas.

I’ve taken that tradition with me. Every Christmas I try to bake a batch of Christmas cookies. I include my mom’s spritz cookies, some Russian tea cakes, and my husband’s favorite, peanut blossoms. In fact, he’s told me he’d be fine if I only made peanut blossoms. Some years, when the holidays have gotten way too crazy, I’ve done only that. When I’m really organized and watching my dollars, I’ll package up the cookies in a cute Christmas tin and give them for gifts.

I know what some of you might be saying, “Why is she already talking about Christmas?” I’m on the lookout for what kind of cookie to make this year. I want to find “The Best Christmas Cookie in the World.”

In our third installment of The Great Indoors Community Cookoff, we’re asking you to submit your best Christmas cookie recipe for a chance to make that recipe on our video blog. I’ve loved cooking with our previous contest winners. Just submit your recipe along with a photo to our blog at http://thegreatindoors.areavoices.com by Dec. 2. Three finalists will be chosen. The public will get a chance to vote on which recipe they’d like to see featured.

To kick things off, I’d like to introduce the latest cookie in my arsenal. I found it on the blog, http:://Cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com. It’s called Caramel-stuffed Pumpkin Cookies, and they taste as great as the title suggests.

I’ve made them both with and without the caramel and actually prefer them without the caramel. I loved how the rich tastes of cloves, cinnamon and ginger combined with the pumpkin. I envision eating these while wearing my fuzzy Christmas socks and sitting by the fire (or downing them with a Diet coke after lunch at my desk.)

The recipe suggests you refrigerate your dough throughout the process, but I have found it doesn’t make that much difference. If you have time to refrigerate it, do so. But in the hustle and bustle world of Christmas baking that’s not always convenient.

Caramel-stuffed Pumpkin Cookies


½cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 and ½ cups granulated sugar, divided

Zc cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

Z, teaspoon ground cloves

Z, teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 14-ounce bag Kraft Caramels


Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and vanilla beat on low for another 2 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the sugar mixture and beat on low just until combined. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, scoop very slightly rounded tablespoons of the dough, stick a caramel in the center and roll into a ball. Set on one of the parchment-lined sheets – it’s OK if they’re crowded; just try not to let them touch. Repeat until all the cookie dough is used up. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the remaining ½ cup sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a wide, shallow bowl.

Working in batches, roll the cookies in the cinnamon sugar and bake 2 inches apart for 14 minutes. Refrigerate the unbaked cookies in between batches.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in tightly covered containers up to a week.

Watch ‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on www.InforumTV.com