Make Baking Christmas Cookies a Tradition in Your Family
Sugar and spice makes everyone nice.
Baking Christmas cookies as a family teaches children the value of gift giving. These are the best gifts because they are made with creativity, originality and love. In the spirit of Christmas, it promotes sharing and giving in a way that buying expensive gifts just don't compare.
If you are short on cash this season or simply tired of fighting the crowds at the mall to get your friends a gift, head to the Dollar Store and buy decorative tins for $1, buy bulk ingredients and prepare batches of homemade Christmas cookies to share with friends, family or donate to local food drives during this holiday season.
Chef Ann Friedman of Johnathan's Café donated a recipe that has been in her family for generations. As she proudly handed me the original recipe, which was beautifully hand written on an old fashion recipe index card, she explained the value of recipes that the next generation may never be privy to if such traditions are not preserved.
Ann provided "a basic recipe, generations old, that you can't screw up. What's great is you can alter this recipe just by trying a different type of peanut butter, to add texture, use the crunchy variety."
Ann understands the true value of a family recipe and is happy to share her family recipe with you.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
|1 cup brown sugar||1 cup white sugar|
|2 eggs||1 cup Crisco|
|1 cup peanut butter||1 pinch salt|
|1 teaspoon baking soda||2½ cups flour|
|4 tablespoons milk|
Beat all ingredients together and place 1 teaspoon worth of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Dip a fork in milk and make a criss-cross (#) by pressing down lightly with a fork. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Yield: 65 cookies
An alternative to this basic cookie classic is when you take the dough and roll it into a 1 inch ball then roll the ball in granulated sugar, bake the dough in ball form. When it comes out of the oven, place a Hersey Kiss in the center, pressing down lightly. Let the cookies cool for at least one hour or they won't set correctly.
The Spritz cookie is another Christmas treat that is fun to decorate and a little more challenging to make. This buttery batch is great served anytime including with your morning coffee. It is important to note: the batter has to be at room temperature or they will not set correctly, so please do not refrigerate. You will need a cookie press for consistency when working with Spritz cookie dough.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
|1 cup butter, softened||2/3 cups granulated sugar|
|3 egg yokes||1 tablespoon milk|
|2 ½ cups flour||1/2 teaspoon baking powder|
|1 teaspoon vanilla extract||1/2 teaspoon almond extract|
In a mixing bowl add the butter and granulated sugar. Using a mixer or hand blender mix until butter and sugar are creamy. Add eggs, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and continue to mix. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder and incorporate into your wet ingredients. This dough must remain at room temperature. Using a cookie press helps bring a consistent look to your cookies. As you place the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet, leave room in between because they expand in the oven. Bake at 400 for seven minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Sugar cookies are the all time favorite Christmas cookie because they are chewy delicious and decorated with a multi-spectrum of colors and finished with sprinkles or confetti. Take note: these will disappear as soon as they land on the cookie dish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
|1½ cups butter softened||1 teaspoon vanilla extract|
|1½ cups granulated sugar||4 large eggs|
|½ cup firmly packed brown sugar||1 teaspoon salt|
|4 cups flour||2 teaspoons baking soda|
In a large mixing bowl, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and blend until creamy. While the mixer is going, add one egg at a time and incorporate well. Add vanilla.
In another bowl add flour, baking soda and salt. Using a whisk, blend, then add to your mixer and process for about one minute. Chill the dough for about an hour.
Scoop out your dough onto parchment paper (wax paper) and roll the dough into a log shape. Cut ½ inch slice and roll out with a rolling pin. A glass will also work if lightly floured in lieu of a rolling pin. Spray your cookie cutters with cooking spray so the dough doesn't stick. Use your cookie cutter to cut your shape and place excess dough into a bowl. Place your cookie on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for seven minutes at 400. Roll the excess dough into a new log and start on your next batch. After 30 minutes, when cookies are cool, start decorating.
Make your cookie icing with confectionary sugar and milk. To make the icing you will need ½ cup of confectionary sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Mixed together the icing should give you the consistency of glue. You can add more milk if you would like the icing to be thinner. You need to add your sprinkles of confetti while the icing is still wet.
If you're pressed for time you can alwasy by premade frosting and add food coloring to make your Christmas colors. You are now ready for sprinkles and confetti. Be creative and use your imagination when preparing these original Christmas goodies.
If you haven't made Christmas cookies in the past, try starting your own tradition this year. Hand write your recipes and preserve a gift that will continue to give for years to come.