DO NOT preheat your oven quite  yet— this cookie dough needs  to chill before baking.

1 box (approximately 18 ounces) red velvet cake mix, the kind that makes a 9-inch by 13-inch cake (I used Duncan  Hines)

1 large egg, beaten (just whip it up in a glass with  a fork)

2 cups of Original  Cool Whip, thawed (measure this—a  tub of Cool Whip  contains a little over 3 cups and that’s too much!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips

(I used Nestle)

———

1⁄2  cup powdered (confectioners) sugar (you don’t have to sift it unless it’s got big lumps)

small jar of red maraschino cherries, cut in half vertically and without stems

Pour  HALF of the  dry cake mix into  a large bowl.

Use a smaller  bowl to mix the  two cups of Cool Whip with the beaten egg and  the vanilla extract. Stir gently with a rubber spatula  until  everything is combined.

Add the Cool Whip mixture to the cake mix in the  large  bowl. STIR VERY CAREFULLY with a wooden  spoon  or a rubber spatula.  Stir only until  everything  is combined.  You don’t want to stir all the air from the Cool Whip.

Sprinkle  the rest of the cake mix on top and  gently fold it in with the  rubber  spatula. Again, keep  as much  air in the  batter as possible. Air is what will make your cookies soft and have that melt-in-your-mouth quality.

Sprinkle  the cup of semi-sweet mini chips on top and gently fold the chips into the airy cookie mixture. Cover the bowl and chill this mixture for at least one hour  in the refrigerator. It’s a little too sticky to form  into  balls without chilling it first.

Hannah’s 1st Note:  Andrea sometimes

mixes whippersnapper dough up before she goes to bed on Friday night and bakes her cookies with Tracey in the morning.

When your cookie dough has chilled and you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees  F., and make sure the rack is in the middle  position. DO NOT take your chilled  cookie  dough out  of the  refrigerator  until  after  your  oven  has  reached the proper temperature.

While your oven is preheating, prepare your cookie  sheets  by spraying  them  with Pam or another nonstick baking  spray, or lining them  with parchment paper.

Place the confectioner’s sugar in a small, shallow bowl. You will be dropping cookie dough into  this bowl to form  dough balls and coating  them  with the powdered sugar.

When   your  oven  is  ready,   take   your dough out of the refrigerator. Using a tea- spoon  from  your silver ware drawer,  drop the  dough by  rounded  teaspoonful into the bowl with the powdered sugar. Roll the dough around with  your  fingers  to  form powdered-sugar-coated cookie dough balls.

Hannahs 2nd Note: This is easiest if you coat your fingers with powdered sugar first and then tr y to form the cookie dough into balls.

Place the  coated  cookie  dough balls on your prepared cookie sheets, no more than 12 cookies on a standard-size sheet.

If you haven’t  already done  so, cut your maraschino cherries in half and  place  one half, rounded side up, on top of each cookie ball on your baking sheet.

Hannah’s 3rd Note: I’ve said this be- fore, but it bears repeating. Work with only one cookie dough ball at a time. If you drop more than one in the bowl of powdered sugar, they’ll stick together.

Andreas Note: Make only as many cookie dough balls as you can bake at one time and then cover the dough and return it to the refrigerator. I have a double oven so I pre- pare 2 sheets of cookies at a time.

Bake  your  Red  Velvet Whippersnapper

Cookies at 350 degrees  F., for 10 to 12 minutes.  Test  for  doneness by tapping them lightly with a finger to see if they’re “set.”

Let your cookies cool on the cookie sheet for  2 minutes, and  then  move  them  to  a wire rack to cool completely. (This  is a lot easier if you line  your  cookie sheets with  parchment paper—then   you don’t  need to lift the cookies one by one. All  you have to do is grab one end of the parchment  paper  and  pull it, cookies and all, onto the wire rack.)

Once  the cookies are completely cool, store them  between  sheets of waxed paper in  a  cool,  dry place.  (Your  refrigerator   is cool, but it’s definitely not dry!)

Yield:  3 to  4 dozen  soft, chewy cookies with little nuggets  of chocolate inside. Yield will depend on cookie size.

 

Christmas normally descends on Lake Eden, Minnesota, as gently as reindeer alighting on a rooftop—but this yuletide season the only thing coming down Hannah Swensen’s chimney is a case of murder . . .

The holidays have arrived, and Hannah and her good pal Lisa have agreed to provide all the goodies for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. But before anyone can say “Bah, humbug!” a Santa-sized sackful of trouble ensues. Like the fact that Lisa’s husband will be playing Mr. Claus to his ex-girlfriend Phyllis Bates’ Mrs. Claus. Or that before the curtains even go up Phyllis is found dead in the snow—wearing a costume that the real Mrs. Claus would put on the naughty list. Soon after, the suspects pile up faster than snowdrifts in a blizzard, while a merry murderer remains on the loose. With clues even harder to find, it might take a visit from ghosts of Christmas past to wrap up this mystery in time for the holidays . . .

Includes a Dozen Holiday Recipes from The Cookie Jar!

“Tasty . . . Hannah is irresistible as a cookie fresh from the oven.” —Publishers Weekly

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