Recipe ideas that use what you have
AP PHOTO Piles of holiday cookies that appear each year can be a great starting point for creative treats. Ice cream sandwiches made with fresh cookies and ice cream can be made and frozen for up to three days.
Between kindly neighbors, generous officemates and your own seasonal baking lust, it's easy to get overwhelmed by cookies during the holidays. What to do with all the cookies that don't get gobbled up right away?
Kate Merker, associate food editor at Real Simple magazine, suggests morphing cookies into a different kind of treat. Or simply storing them in the freezer to preserve freshness until you're once again craving gingerbread.
Let's start with cookie storage basics. Most holiday cookies that are not iced or frosted do fine for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature. Anything with frosting or icing does better refrigerated in an airtight container, says Merker.
And just about any cookies can be frozen for a couple of months. Just make sure they are completely cooled before freezing.
If your cookies are drying out too fast, it's probably a problem with the baking, not the storage.
"I have found that a lot of cookies can dry out, get hard, after only a day or even a few hours after baking," says Merker.
This is likely from baking for too long. So be sure to check the cookies a few minutes before the recipe says they should be done.
For those cookies left untouched, Merker offers these suggestions:
• Sprinkle crumbled meringue cookies over orange or raspberry sorbet.
• Make a parfait by layering chocolate pudding and crumbled peanut butter cookies, then topping them with a dollop of whipped cream and another sprinkling of cookies.
• Make a quick pear crisp using crumbled oatmeal cookies. Place halved and cored pears in a baking dish cut-side up. Combine 1 cup crumbled cookies with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces) and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the pears and bake at 400 F, or until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes.
• Make an ice cream sandwich. Try traditional chocolate chip, or go for gingersnaps with chocolate or strawberry ice cream.