In the early 1980's I found this holiday cookie recipe in a woman's magazine. The photos and descriptions accompanying the article made my mouth water. Even though the prep sounded time consuming, the pictures were too tempting to ignore. This basic recipe is the best, and different cookie variations can be created from this basic dough. In years past, I'd set aside an entire day to indulge in flour, chocolate, almond paste and decorations. I still make the cookies, but without the butter and eggs.

3 1/3 cps sifted organic all-purpose flour
2 3/4 cps sifted cake flour
2 cans or packs (8 oz. each) almond paste
1 lb. Earth Balance or Vegan Smart Balance non-dairy margarine
2 cps organic sugar (Say, it's Christmas - indulge!)
Ener-G egg replacer for 4 eggs (6 tsps replacer mixed with 8 T very warm water - mix till frothy, like egg whites)
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract, or almond extract (your preference)

Sift the 2 'sifted' flours onto waxed paper. Crumble the almond paste thoroughly with fingers into a large bowl to eliminate any lumps before adding other ingredients. Add the non-dairy margarine. Mix with your hands or electric mixer till completely blended and smooth. Then beat in the sugar, the well beaten egg replacer, and vanilla or almond extract. Beat with electric mixer on medium till mixture is light and fluffy.

Then add flour, 1/3 at a time, beating well after each addition. When well mixed, divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Wrap each part separately in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.

Now comes the fun part. There are many cookies you can make with this dough. Put through a cookie press or use cookie cutters to create your favorite Christmas cookies. Line up the sprinkles, colored sugar, melted chocolate and, walla! Here are a couple of ideas:

BON BON SLICES (These are my favorite.)
Grease the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 x 2" pan. Line bottom with wax paper. Spread 1 part of the dough evenly in pan. Bake in oven at 375 for 12 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Remove from oven; loosen around edges with knife. Carefully turn out onto wire rack; peel off wax paper. Cool completely.

Cut crosswise in half, then cut each half crosswise in thirds. Spread 3 of the strips evenly with a thin layer of raspberry jan; top with the remaining pieces. Wrap each stacked sandwich with plastic wrap. Put a cutting board or heavy flat pan on top of the andwiches to weigh down. Let stand several hours or overnight. Unwrap the sandwiches; place on wire rack over wax paper. Spread top and sides with Chocolate Coating (recipe at end); sprinkle with colored sprinkles. Let coating harden; then cut into 1/2" slices.

Freezer tip: Store after coating is fully firm and dry. Freeze, uncovered, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in freezer. Slice as needed, or slice the entire bar and layer with wax paper between slices. Defrost, covered, to keep soft.

Using a cookie press, fit press with large star tip. Fill press with 1 part of the dough which has been chilled. Press out in half dollar size rosettes onto lightly greased cookie sheets, about 1" apart. Press indentation in center of each with finger dipped in water. Bake in moderate oven at 375 for 7 minutes or until firm and lightly golden. Remove from sheets to wire racks; cool Fill centers with Confectioner's Glaze (recipe at end), or fill with red and green candied cherry halves.

Fit cookie press with star tip. Fill press with 1 part dough. Press out in slim fingers about 2 1/2" long on lightly greased cookie sheets, about 1" apart. Bake in 375 for 7 minutes. Remove from sheets to wire racks. Cool. Dip one end of paillette into melted dark chocolate and roll in colored sprinkles. Or use your imagination to decorate.

Mix 1 part basic dough with 1/4 cp flour in medium size bowl till smooth. Chill mixture for 1 hour. Form into 1" balls; chill for 3 hours. (I know this takes time!) Then roll, one ball at a time into a pencil shaped length, 9" long, with palm of hands on lightly floured surface. Curve into U shape directly on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bring one arm over to opposite side; pinch to secure; repeat with second arm, forming a pretzel shape. Keep cookies about an inch apart. Bake at 375 for 5 min. or till firm and golden. Remove, cool on wire racks. Dip into Chocolate coating; let dry on rack. (These are so good. Messy to make, but when done, finger licking good.)

Shape 1 part cold dough (chilled for 3 hours) into 3/4" balls. Arrange on lightly greased cookie sheets, about 2" apart. Top with chocolate candy kiss, pushing down slightly so cookies spread. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes or till firm and golden. Cool on wire racks.

Melt 1 package vegan or regular semi-sweet chocolate pieces with 3T canola oil in top of double boiler, set over hot not boiling water. Stir till very smooth. May be prepared, stored in covered container in the frig, and then heated when needed. (OK - True Confession time - It's the holiday season and this is one time I use real chocolate chip pieces, but I make sure it's dark and organic.)

2 cps confectioner's sugar
2 - 2 1/2 T warm non-dairy milk (use rick milk here)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
red or green food coloring

Put sugar in small bowl. Stir in non-dairy milk till glaze is smooth. Divide into 3 small containers, tint one portion pink, one pale green and leave one white. Cover top of bowls with damp towels while working to prevent glaze from hardening. Store covered and re-warm over hot tap water when needed.