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There’s nothing like a thoughtful, homemade gift to show people you care — no matter the occasion. In the past, I’ve treated friends and family to seasoned salts and sugars, cocktail syrups, jam, and even hand-hemmed cotton dishtowels (all of which I really enjoyed making and giving!). Making homemade gifts in big batches can be extremely economical and much less stressful than shopping. Over the years, no matter how creative I try to get, there’s always one gift I know people will truly covet, and that’s my homemade cookies.
My friends are all very busy and like most of us, they wish they could serve their families homemade treats all the time. That’s one of the reasons why I'm so happy to provide deliveries from my kitchen to theirs. My gift packages usually include not only a couple of batches of freshly-baked cookies, but also well-wrapped rolls of cookie dough for them to tuck into their freezer, ready to bake up whenever they need another dose of my homemade love.
I think what makes these gifts so appreciated is that I’m constantly coming up with new customized varieties for my friends and family to enjoy. Becel calls this baking with heart and gifting with love, because it’s not just the effort but also the thought that counts!
This year, I’ll be making a whole bunch of different cookies using just one dough recipe as the base, the super versatile Becel Anything Goes Cookie Dough made with Becel Buttery Taste margarine. The Anything Goes Cookie Dough makes soft and chewy cookies every time, guaranteed. Baking with Becel margarine is super convenient because it’s soft and spreadable right out of the fridge, it's perfect for spontaneous batches of cookies (in case a craving hits), and I can substitute it one-for-one for butter in any of my recipes. It also contains 80% less saturated fat than butter which makes it heart healthy — something that’s really important to me and my friends.
My cookie gifts this year are going to include what I like to call merry mix-ins. Merry mix-ins are things I can add into or on top of the base dough recipe to customize for each recipient, so each gift will be truly personalized. But before you can make your merry mix-in variations, you'll need to make the base dough first.
Becel Anything Goes Cooking Dough Recipe
1 cup Becel Buttery Taste margarine or Becel Original margarine
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Beat Becel Buttery Taste margarine with brown sugar and granulated sugar in large bowl.
Beat in eggs and vanilla until blended.
Gradually add in flour baking soda, and salt; beat just until blended.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 2-inches apart.
Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are golden.
Cool 2 minutes on wire rack; remove cookies from sheets and cool completely.
Makes: 48 cookies
One you've prepared the dough, you can customize it any way you like. This year, I'll be using the following four recipes:
Prepare the Anything Goes Cookie Dough (recipe below), omitting the vanilla extract. Add in 1 tablespoon of orange extract and 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chunks. Scoop 48 cookies out onto parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake at 375F for 7 minutes or until edges are golden.
White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
Prepare the Anything Goes Cookie Dough and scoop out 48 cookies onto parchment-lined sheets. Bake at 375F for 7 minutes or until edges are golden. When cookies have cooled, chop 1/2 cup dried cranberries and melt 1 cup white chocolate chips. Spoon about a teaspoon of the chocolate onto the top of each cookie and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the cranberries; let chocolate set before packaging cookies.
Festive Candy Cookies
Prepare the Anything Goes Cookie Dough adding in at the end 1 1/2 cups of red and green chocolate candies. Scoop 48 cookies out onto parchment-lined sheets and bake at 375F for 7 minutes, or until edges are golden.
Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
Prepare the Anything Goes Cookie Dough, substituting the vanilla extract with 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Tint one portion green and one portion red, leaving the third plain. Place each colour of dough in separate small sandwich bag and flatten into a 5 x 7 inch rectangle. Freeze dough 15 minutes then lay dough slabs on top of each other. Cut in half lengthwise and place one section on top of the other (so you have a block with 6 layers); freeze again for 5 minutes. Cut into 1/4" thick slices and place on baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake at 375F for 7 minutes or until edges are golden.
After you’ve baked your cookies, it’s nice to take a little time to package them up and make them pretty.
Between thrift shops, dollar stores and craft supply places, you’ll be able to find lots of packaging options. Add a festive tag and don’t forget to tuck in a copy of your recipe, because once people taste your creations, they’re sure to want more!
For a few more tips on how to make all of your baking more festive and appreciated, check out the holiday hacks on BecelBakeWithHeart.ca. And while you're there, check out their delicious holiday cookie recipes and share your own creations online using #bakewithheart.