By Kristin Boza
Don’t even try to diet during the holidays, especially if you make Wendy Gonzales’ snowball cookie recipe. Like most holiday bakers, Gonzales learned the art of baking while playing with her EasyBake Oven as a child. She moved on to the kitchen as she got older, and found that she had a love — and a talent — for creating the most delectable cookies.
“I find baking to be therapeutic, and I just enjoy making something for others,” Gonzales said. And she has plenty of takers. Aside from her family and friends, she enjoys filling trays of baked goods to treat her colleagues and everyone else she meets during the holiday season.
Choose One Day to Bake
To get started on holiday cookie baking, Gonzales recommends setting aside one day to make as many cookies as possible, which isn’t as stressful as it may sound. She schedules her baking for the Sunday before the last week of school so she has time to deliver cookies to her neighbors, friend and colleagues before Christmas.
Baking day has become a family tradition. Gonzales’s 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son help to frost and decorate the butter cookies. “I have pictures with my kids of my dining room table full of cookies that are all baked in one day,” she said.
Don’t Feel the Need to Experiment
Gonzales has dipped her toes into making lemon bars, which have quickly become a crowd favorite and one of her most requested treats. But for the holidays she leans on her butter cookies and snowball cookies which have been perfected after years of baking them.
She isn’t one to experiment, instead relying on her favorite recipes to ensure consistency year after year. “But, I do think baking comes naturally to me; I give my recipes to people and they always say that theirs don’t come out like mine do,” she said. “I’m not sure why, but with some things, when you have a touch and you know what you’re looking for, the cookies come out just right.”
Keep an Eye on the Oven
One trick Gonzales learned over the years is to check on the cookies in the oven before the designated baking time. “If a recipe calls for a minimum of 11 minutes in the oven, I’ll check them at nine minutes. You can always leave it in to bake for a bit longer, but you can’t take it back when the cookies become too brown,” she said.
She recommends gently lifting a cookie to see how brown the bottom is before deciding it’s done. Also consider that the cookies will continue baking if they’re left on the cookie sheet for a few minutes after taking them out of the oven, so use that additional time to firm them up rather than leaving them to potentially harden in the oven.
Wendy’s Snowball Cookies
Note that the recipe calls for green and red morsels, but regular chocolate chips will do just fine. Gonzales says these are quick, easy, and a crowd favorite.
1 1/2 cups softened butter (3 sticks)
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups flour
1 2/3 cups (10 oz package) holiday morsels
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Additional powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour, then stir in morsels and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over cookies on baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Store in airtight containers.
Yield: approximately four dozen