Growing up, my Mom always made lots of different kinds of Christmas cookies… and by lots I mean like 10-15 different kinds of cookies- butter cookies, chocolate cookies, cookies that were shaped, cookies that were dropped, and cookies that were rolled. And I remember that my Aunt Jackie used to make lots of different kinds of Christmas cookies too…. so I thought that everyone shared this tradition- that there should be a large quantity as well as a large assortment of cookies at holiday gatherings. Needless to say, I was rather surprised as a teenager when I visited friend’s houses at the holidays that not everyone did the same! Some people (gasp…) even purchased cookies! (Say it isn’t so!)
Baking Christmas cookies is one of my very favorite Christmas memories from my childhood…. helping my Mom make the dough…. sneaking rather large amounts of cookie dough into my mouth when I though no one was looking (although I do believe that it was my Dad that taught me that trick!)…. decorating sugar cookies with my Dad and my brother while my Mom finished baking yet another variety. I vividly remember the time that I spied what I believed to be chocolate chip cookie dough already rolled into balls stored in the fridge and started sneaking several into my mouth before I realized that something tasted quite odd…. they were rum balls! And I also remember the year that I tried my Aunt Jackie’s sugar cookie cut-outs and thought they tasted different… but in a good way. When I questioned her, she told me that she accidentally mixed up the chilled snickerdoodle dough with the sugar cookie dough and rolled, cut, and decorated the snickerdoodle dough, and dropped into cinnamon-sugar the sugar cookie dough. I remember that I loved the results of the mix-up, and every year I still consider making this same “mistake” on purpose…. and then never follow through!
So this year, I am a bit of a cookie “slacker” (based on my own expectations)….. because I narrowed my assortment down to only 7 different types of cookies. I solicited input from my husband and my kids, and these are the ones that they deem to be their very favorites. And because I wanted to focus on more than just cookies this year…. these are the ones that I made…..
So starting from the center, and then working our way around the platter clockwise, we have the following:
I will need to call these a new family favorite, because this is actually the first year that I made these! But my son Spencer and I both love raspberry jam, so combined with a sugar cookie I knew it would be a big hit! I found this recipe in the December 2008 Real Simple magazine, and cut it out and saved it…. waiting for the chance to bake them. It requires several steps, first you make the dough and chill it, then you roll it out, spread the jam, roll it up into logs and then chill again before cutting and baking them. But I am making it sound harder than it is…. because I think that this was one of my easier recipes. Here’s the link: Real Simple’s Raspberry Pinwheels
Butter Cookie Cut Outs
I have been making these cookies for several years now…. they are so chewy and delicious! Because the dough is so soft, I use tiny cookie cutters to create the shapes (which makes this recipe a bit labor intensive). I featured these cookies on the blog last year…. here’s the link: Momof6′s Butter Cookie Cut Outs
Sugar Cookie Cut Outs
These are definitely the cookies that require the most time… making the dough, chilling it, rolling it out, cutting the shapes, making the icing, and decorating the cookies. But there is a reason that this is my go-to recipe all year long. They are just SO good! Momof6′s Sugar Cookie Cut Outs
Peanut Butter Blossoms
I think that most bakers make this cookie at one time or another. It creates a soft chewy peanut butter cookie that is covered in sugar and topped with a Hershey’s Kiss -or in my case- an over-sized chocolate chip! (That’s because I accidentally gave the kids the last bag of kisses to decorate the gingerbread houses this weekend- oops!) You can find this recipe in many many places…. but the one I use matches this one that I found at My Baking Addiction exactly!
Meringue Santa Hats
If you ask my kids, this is their hands-down favorite Christmas cookies! They call them “those melt-in-your-mouth” cookies… and that really just says it all! Momof6′s Meringue Santa Hats
Many people make gingerbread men, everyone with their own variation on the recipe. Here’s the one that I love:3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup margarine, softened 2 eggs 1/4 cup molasses 3 1/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
In a large bowl, beat sugar and margarine until well blended. Add eggs and molasses until incorporated. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto your countertop, and roll dough until 1/4″ thick. Cut into gingerbread men or girl shapes. Add candy-red-hots for buttons. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 2-3 dozen cookies (depending on size of cookie cutter).
I stick with my tried-and-true family recipe here… the one I can remember my Mom making and the one I can remember my Aunt Jackie mixing up!2 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons of cream of tarter 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup of shortening 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 eggs 2 tablespoons each of sugar and cinammon
Sift together flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt. Cream (with mixer), shortening sugar, eggs,until very light and fluffy. Beat in flour mixture. Chill. Form dough into balls (or have your kids do this!) and roll in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees.