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Posted on Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 8 a.m.

Stoplight Cookies - a new holiday tradition arises from a baking mistake

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

Yesterday was National Cookie Day. So I thought I would use that festive occasion as inspiration for this week's offerings, and provide recipes for holiday treats so that you can get started on your Christmas baking.

Yes, Christmas is 20 days away. And there are cookie exchanges, parties, tree trimming, and all sorts of other events coming where treats will be required. Santa will be expecting a little nosh, too, once he gets down that chimney.

But before you succumb to feeling overwhelmed and overstressed, let me assure you that I'm way behind on my own baking ventures. This is as much a nudge for me as it is for you.

So let's get started! Welcome to Cookie Week!

Our first feature is Stoplight Cookies, one of Jeremy's all-time favorites. They began life as a variation on thumbprint cookies, with candied cherries placed in the center of the cookie rather than it being filled with jam.

But one time, I tried to cram too many cookies onto the baking sheet; they bled together rather than remaining as individual rounds. When Jeremy - who was very young at the time - saw them, he was absolutely giddy: "They're stoplight cookies!"

Oh, okay. They're not a mistake anymore — they're a new creation!

Jeremy asks for these simple but festive cookies every year. And I remember — as only a mom whose son is now 6 feet and 3 inches tall and almost 21 years old can — how little and sweet and innocent he was when he redeemed my baking disaster with his glee.

Stoplight Cookies
(adapted from a recipe in The Taste of Home Cookbook)

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
18 red candied cherries, halved
18 green candied cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening together; stir in the confectioners' sugar 'til light and fluffy. Stir in the milk and the eggs. Add the flour and salt, and combine well.

Form 3/4-inch balls of dough and place two next to each other — mushed together just a bit — on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Place a red cherry piece onto one half of each cookie and a green cherry piece onto the other half of each cookie.

Bake for 12 minutes until the cookies are just set. Remove to a rack and cool completely, repeating with remaining dough and cherries.

Makes 36 cookies.

And don't forget these oldies but goodies:

Applesauce Bars

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

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Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures in the kitchen. She was thrilled to have her post about Scottish Oatmeal Shortbread named as one of the daily "Best of the Blogs" by the prestigious Food News Journal.

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related. Her newest feature is Frugal Floozie Friday, seeking fun and food for $5 or less ... really! Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here.



Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Did you know they use bleach to make those cherries white and then use a dye that can cause a lot of problems in children with autism, add and adhd? I do not use these cherries but have made these with a simple candy that is naturally green and red. Otherwise, yes, this is a fun recipe. But these cherries need to be used with caution.