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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jubilee Jumbles

This weekend we celebrated Christmas with my side of the family. When I was growing up, my mom and Grandma had a tradition of making cookie plates for family, friends, neighbors, and, well, a lot of people. Apparently, at 19 years of age, Grandma began taking cookie plates as Christmas gifts to the neighbors when she and Grandpa moved out the family farm. Over the years, making cookie plates snowballed into this large task of preparing over forty different cookies and candies and delivering seventy (yes, seventy!) cookie plates every Christmas. I can remember helping mix up and bake a quadruple batch of two different kinds of cookies in one day. Mom and Grandma had the preparation down to a science. We would begin baking the day after Thanksgiving with peppernuts--a tiny, spicy German cookie whose flavor actually improves with age. Then we would go down the list of cookies that we could freeze and store. One of the last things we would make were the frosted sugar cookies. I can still remember my mom, a veterinarian, using a small needleless syringe to pipe the tiny brown eye on over fifty reindeer cookies covering the kitchen table. Delivering the cookie plates alone took over a day!

Needless to say, though I love having this tradition in my past, I have not started delivering cookie plates yet. However, I was in the mood to do some baking this year.

I asked my brother what cookie he would like me to make for the weekend, and he requested Jubilee Jumbles. This cookie has a light, fluffy texture complimented by a brown butter glaze. My kids were able to help me make them (just one batch goes much more quickly than four!), and they thought they were delicious.

Here's the recipe:

Jubilee Jumbles

1/2 cup soft shortening (I used softened butter)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt (I omit)
1 1/2 cup finely-chopped nuts (Grandma always used walnuts, but I prefer pecans)

Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs thoroughly, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Mix in milk and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and slowly add to dough. Blend in nuts. Chill one hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake ten minutes until delicately brown. While warm, frost with browned butter glaze. Makes about four dozen.

Browned butter glaze: Heat two tablespoons butter until golden brown. Beat in two cups powdered sugar and 1/4 cup undiluted evaporated milk until smooth.

I found that I needed about 1/4 cup additional powdered sugar to get the glaze to a consistency that I liked. When you frost these, put them on a cooling rack with waxed paper underneath to minimize your cleanup time.

The original recipe recommended using a greased cookie sheet instead of parchment paper. As someone who washed countless numbers of cookie sheets during Christmas baking, I thoroughly recommend parchment paper. I use it for all of my cookie recipes--cleanup is so much easier!

This was a great recipe for my kids to practice their frosting skills on. Though nice and soft, the cookie is sturdy enough to stand up to a child's grasp. They enjoyed scooping the glaze onto their knives and spreading it on the top of the cookie. The glaze would spread out due to the heat of the cookie, so the end result looked great!

In case you were wondering, a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk contains enough to make the cookie dough and the glaze for one batch.

The kids and I had lots of fun making six different cookie recipes this year. Who knows, maybe next year will be the start of some Pearce cookie plates. . . or maybe not!

Hope you had a blessed Christmas season!


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