Wow the last month has FLOWN by!
We did end up having a Christmas party and it was a smashing success. As this was the third year in a row, I think it fair to call it an annual tradition now. I'm also leaning to it being the first Saturday in December so go ahead and mark your calendars now.
I've finished all my Christmas shopping which is always dangerous when I finish this early. Also because Rob and I decided back in December that we would low key birthdays and Christmas for each other so we could maybe go on a cruise in February.
Then after a bit of research we decided it wasn't quite as affordable as we thought it would be so we were both resigned to low key Christmas and no vacay - until we received a generous gift from his stepmother. Briefly considered could we stretch it with air miles and do Germany? But I don't think so.
I still have a little bit of research to do but I think the cruise idea - or an all-inclusive somewhere - is our best option.
Anyway, that's TBD.
In the meantime, I've been watching an obnoxious amount of Christmas movies - mostly of the Hallmark adjacent variety. I don't know if it's the meds or the Christmas spirit but I'm definitely feeling better!
Today I began Christmas week baking. I started with the viral Cool Whip cookies I've seen all over social media. I'm going to share the recipe below because I have some useful tips for you too if you want to give them a try.
Also yes I did the story within the recipe thing but that's because this isn't a cooking blog.
Also I don't know how to do the cool jump to recipe thing. Deal with it.
You only need 4 ingredients.
Box cake mix - any brand, any flavor. I used Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist because it was on sale at Kroger.
8 oz whipped topping - I used Aldi brand, low fat. I don't know if that is a problem - will discuss that later. Make sure it is thawed - that is important.
Preheat oven to 350 - I used the convection bake function on my ovens which I highly recommend when making cookies if you can. I struggle with convection on anything else but it has changed my cookie game.
Mix the dry cake mix, egg, and whipped topping. You want to fold it in. IYKYK ;)
Here's where it is tricky and where I feel like literally every video I've seen fails to mention - the mixture will be dense and gooey. I might try it one more time with full fat to see if that makes a difference for some reason. You will want to avoid using your hands to touch the dough.
Seriously. It's like glue. Maybe I should use that the next time I try to make a gingerbread house instead of royal icing.
The first batch I made was the red velvet. And my first mistake was the whipped topping was not thawed. I think that definitely added to my challenges mixing it because you want to fold it in. Do not stir and do not use a mixer.
I then added a bag of Tollhouse Hot Chocolate and Marshmallow chips I found at Aldi yesterday. It just sounded like it would be a good combo.
The instructions are to take a scooper - I have one specifically for cookies but I'm sure you could use a melon baller if you wanted too - to drop balls into the powdered sugar. Actually it says to roll it in the sugar.
Here's the thing - the mixture is soooo goey it wasn't releasing from my scoop. And I tried just using my hands and that was way worse (I'd recommend spraying your hands with oil if you go this route because shockingly it stuck all over my hands. Also that was sarcasm.).
So I decided to chill the mixture and moved on to the lemon cookies. This time the whipped topping was thawed and it does help but it will feel like you are mixing cement. I cannot imagine using full fat makes a difference here but maybe it does?
I then used the double spoon method to scoop the dough and drop into a bowl of powdered sugar. Then hot potato that ball until the loose sugar falls off and place on your pan. See video below (thank you to my cinematographer Zach) in case those instructions made no sense. These will spread a little but you could probably space them closer than I did.
Also I'm not wearing gloves. I washed my hands and these cookies are for me and my family. I don't quite understand the new obession with wearing gloves when cooking. I'm not a pro and I don't pretend to be.
I cooked mine for 10 minutes. Leave on the cookie sheet until the pan is cool to touch then move to wire racks.
The lemon cookies came out perfectly. So I forged ahead with the red velvet. It was definitely easier with the chilled dough so that might be a step worth considering no matter what.
And for what it's worth, the hot chocolate and marshmallow chips are perfect - makes a decadant cookie.
Over all these are a very inexpensive cookie to make so they are perfect if you are making for a bake sale or for gifting. I spent less than $5 on ingredients - if you don't count the egg or powdered sugar because I already had those. As you can see, it made a lot of cookies.
It's also very messy. There was powdered sugar everywhere. Even Mister Manfred had some on his nose - because he was close by in case he needed to assist with clean up.
He didn't, but he likes to be on standby.
I don't know if I would make these again, other than to see if the whipped topping fat content makes a difference. I just like to use lower fat options when I can because I figure every little bit helps. I can say it had no negative impact on the cookies because the final product was indeed delicious.
Rob says they are a WIN so I likely will make them again.
Real quick I would also like to recommend a couple of movies we enjoy this time of year that maybe you haven't seen. The first is A Boy Called Christmas. I can't say if it is good for littles because I don't have any anymore but I can say it feels to me like a good family movie. I could tell you about it but you can also just look it up on IMdB. I can say it is a live action story about the origins of Santa.
Another newish favorite is Klaus - if you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend. This is an animated Santa origin story. The animation is really lovely and is a mix of hand drawn and CGI (for the lighting). Both movies can be found on Netflix.
Rob doesn't embrace all things Christmas like I do, so his stamp of approval probably means more than mine. And he loves both of these. In case you are looking for something new to add to your Christmas arsenal.
I have more recipes to try out this week so stay tuned. And maybe I'll include a few more movie reccomendations too. ;)