Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas my mother set aside several days for cookie baking. My grandparents were some of the original snowbirds who flocked to Florida each winter. As soon as they arrived time was scheduled to begin the baking. I don’t remember baking these cookies as much as I vividly remember frosting and decorating them. Making Christmas cookies was a three-day event; mixing the dough one day, baking the cookies on another day and frosting on the last day. Mother never made just one batch. I think six recipes was an average year. I remember the well-organized assembly line of my grandmother frosting the cookies, the three of us children decorating, and my mother reminding us not to lick our fingers. It seemed like our entire home was filled with trays of decorated cookies waiting to be packaged for very special friends and family.
This is still the tradition in our family; the process just spans many miles. Someone will make the multi batches of cookie dough at their home. The cookie dough travels to the next home for baking and when the cousins are gathered at the final destination, some lucky kitchen gets the privilege of decorating. Creativity abounds as clever artists showcase their work and somehow there are fewer cookies to decorate than were originally baked. These cookies are as much about the decorating as they are about the eating. The original recipe is from my great grandmother. This recipe is from my mother’s Betty Crocker Cookbook. Our collection of cookie cutters grows each year but some of the very favorites, “the tree,” “the snowman,” and “the cat,” were my grandmother’s.
Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas my children and their cousins will be calling to find out where we are making Christmas cookies this year.
1 cup butter softened (not melted) 1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup sugar ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg 3 cups all-purpose flour
Cream butter, sugar, and egg until fluffy. Add vanilla. Sift together flour and baking powder. Gradually add flour to creamed mixture to form a stiff dough. Shape into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and chill. (Dough may be frozen at this point for later use.)
After dough is thoroughly chilled, roll out on well-floured surface to ¼” thickness. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Yield: 3 dozen cookies.
These cookies do not expand in size as they bake like drop cookies do, so they can be placed fairly close together on the cookie sheet for baking. The dough must be chilled before you begin to roll it out or else it will be too soft to work with. Keep the surface, rolling pin and cookie cutters well-floured to prevent the dough from becoming sticky. Try to handle the dough as few times as possible. Avoid over flouring the dough and cut as many cookies as possible the first time you roll out the dough.
Seven Minute Frosting
1 egg whites ¼ teaspoon cream of tarter Dash of salt
1 ½ cup sugar 1/3 cup cold water 1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat everything except the vanilla in the top of a double boiler for 1 minute. Place over boiling water and continue to beat and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. Frost and decorate cookies immediately. (Decorate with colored sprinkles while frosting is still wet. Allow frosting to completely harden (overnight) before packaging in airtight containers.)
~ Carol Roe
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Blessed Lord, throughout the holiday season we may be served Christmas cookies and the taste of them may be quite satisfying. Making, baking and decorating cookies at home gives us so much more. There is the joy of doing this with others. There is the joy of choosing the shape of the cookie cutters. There is the joy of smelling the aroma as they bake. There is the joy of decorating them. Thank you for these joys, for Christmas cookies and for the meals of this day. Amen.