As you all know, I don’t generally follow recipes very closely, except as you probably also know (if you bake) it’s more important to follow directions in baking than in other types of cooking. However, once you’ve baked, oh, a thousand kinds of cookies or so, you can certainly start to fiddle around with recipes and create your own.
“Snow Bites” are one of the most popular types of cookies I make; lots of people pick them out of the crowd as a particular favorite. It’s also an easy dough to turn to many uses.
Original Snow Bites
4 oz cream cheese
¼ C butter
6 Tbsp margarine
1 C sugar
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
2 1/5 C flour
Cream the cream cheese, butter, and margarine with the sugar. I’ve made this with butter + cream cheese and with margarine + cream cheese, and although I generally follow the proportions given in the actual recipe, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference. There really isn’t any baking powder in this recipe, so I didn’t leave it out by accident. The cookies are supposed to be dense. They have a great texture, trust me.
Beat in the egg, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the flour. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill an hour or until you’re ready to get around to making the cookies. Then divide the ball of dough into quarters, then into eights, and ultimately into 64 evenly-sized little balls. (I would make them bigger for normal purposes, but I like very small cookies for Christmas.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until tops appear set and dry but they are only a bit golden on the bottom (they should be pale in color; that’s why they’re called “Snow Bites.”
Now, variations. First, you can add about a cup of dried cranberries to the dough, which I’ve found very popular. This is a Christmas standard for me. Or you can add mini chocolate chips, which I personally especially like, but it isn’t as popular or as Christmasy.
Here’s a variant I made this Christmas for the first time:
Along with the above ingredients, you will need:
Juice of one lemon
Finely grated zest of four or five lemons (I had a lot of lemon zest in the freezer because when I made preserved Moroccan lemons earlier, I needed the juice but not the zest of a lot of lemons, and it would be a crime to throw away all those lemon rinds without zesting them first.) (A microplane grater is the just the ticket for quickly and finely zesting citrus fruits.)
¼ to ½ tsp baking soda (Adding lemon juice made me feel I should probably add baking soda.)
4 oz white chocolate
Additional lemon zest
Along with the egg, vanilla, and salt, add the juice of one lemon and the zest of four or five lemons. Add the baking soda to the flour before you stir in the flour. The extra liquid will make the dough a little softer than usual, but it is still easy to handle. Chill, form into balls, and bake as above.
When cookies are cool, melt the white chocolate. Coat the tops of the cookies. The easiest way is to dip your finger in the chocolate and smear it on the cookies, but whatever. You can certainly try dipping the cookies, but I found smearing easier and quicker. Drop a bit of lemon zest on the top of each cookie before the chocolate sets.
Now, lemon and chocolate is an excellent combination, so I also added ½ C of mini chocolate chips to the cookie dough. But if I were doing it again, I would either leave the chocolate chips out or double the amount. You could certainly try it both ways and see what you like best.