It’s holiday cookie-baking time

I know, I know, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t even on the table yet, and here we are talking about Christmas cookies.

But the next holiday is just over the hill. Anyone who wants to handle the accelerated schedule with aplomb will appreciate a few things that can be done ahead of time.

Cookies are the perfect candidate. For many types, especially butter-based, the dough can be made days or weeks ahead of baking day; it keeps beautifully in the fridge (which also enhances the flavors) or the freezer.

I test cookie recipes every year, with an eye toward expanding my repertoire. The refrigerator cookie recipe here was given to me by my sister, who had saved it from a Sunset magazine.

The problem was the name: fruitcake cookies. Not everyone likes traditional fruitcake (including me) and might be scared off by the title, but they might like dried fruit and nuts in a nice buttery cookie. So the name became “fully loaded Christmas refrigerator cookies.”

One revelation when I was hunting down the ingredients: Candied orange peel commands $49 per pound at an upscale grocery store. The only other type I found was swimming in high fructose corn syrup.

So I searched for a recipe to make my own. (See below.) It proved to be easy – and you can dip the leftovers in melted chocolate, for gifts or for yourself.