December 22, 2009 by skwishface
My quest was simple: to find the perfect recipe for Christmas cookies.
It would need to be simple, yet flavorful. Easily rolled out for cookie-cutting, and (above all!) able to hold its shape during baking. And so I scoured the internet. Searched high and low. Tested entirely too many recipes and dumped the results on my coworkers, who simultaneously blessed and cursed me for it. Though each recipe was delicious, I simply could not seem to find one that would hold its shape. My stars and flowers turned into blobs. Tasty blobs, but blobs nonetheless.
Finally, at the end of my cookie-recipe-hunting tether, I asked my mother-in-law if she knew of a decent recipe.
Why yes, of course she did! Somehow, in all my manic searching, I had managed to forget that she makes charming little perfect-shaped cookies every year at the holidays. Oh what a fool I’d been!
And so now I share this, the most excellent recipe for Christmas cookies ever. Thanks Bev! Merry Christmas!
Bev’s (perfect!) Christmas Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
(for a printable version of this recipe, check this out)
The dough, once assembled, needs to refrigerate for at least four hours. I made mine up the night before, so the lighting is all gross.
Also, this happened…
Patience and I are not friends. Not even passing acquaintances. So when a recipe calls for “softened” butter, it might as well have extra steps in the instructions for me. Steps like:
– neglect to allow butter to soften
– attempt to cream partially-cold butter with sugar
– you fool
– endure dirty looks from your stand mixer as butter solidifes around the paddle attachment
– indulge in creatively censored profanity because your toddler is in the room
Ultimately, I got it worked out. But I did not manage to take pictures of the finished dough. Suffice it to say, I mixed together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until it was smooth(ish). Then I added everything else. Hit the button till it looked like dough.
The dough is very firm and a bit crumbly, but that could’ve been because my butter was cold. Regardless! Roll your dough up into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap if you have it, or toss it in a big tupperware bowl if you share my utter loathing of plastic wrap. Then chuck the whole lot into the fridge for at least four hours.
The recipe that Bev gave me actually states that the dough should not stay in the fridge longer than six weeks. Six weeks? Really? I’m lucky I didn’t wake up with a mysteriously empty mixing bowl, smudges of butter on my face, and a full tummy.
The next day, I invited some friends over to help me and the kiddos do the cookie thing. It went much better than the previous night’s dough shenanigans.
I broke the dough into fist-sized chunks and rolled it out to about 1/8-inch thick. I was still wary, having been disappointed by too many recipes before, so I did a test batch to see if the shape would hold in the oven.
Into the oven at 400-degrees for about 9 minutes, and you’ll never guess what came out.
I clapped. Stood there in my kitchen and applauded. Stars in, stars out! IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!
Thus encouraged, we proceeded to cut out the rest of the doughy goodness.
Once your cookies are cooled, it’s time to get down to the seriously fun business of decorating them. For this, I recommend recruiting friends and family to sit around and have a little icing-and-sprinkles party.
We totally cheated. Got the canned decorating icing with the free extra icing tips. And you know what? It tastes wonderful.
Also, canned icing is easier for some of your smaller helpers to assist with. Ditto on sprinkles.
The point of this endeavor is not to have perfectly beautiful little holiday cookies. Oh lawd no! The point, my friends, is to gather together the folks you love, the ones who make you laugh and make you glad they’re around.
And then spend a few hours making scary-ass snowmen.
Christmas cookies are a togetherness project. It’s really a perfect symbol of what the holidays mean to me. Between my mom-in-law’s recipe, my kids and friends helping out with the decorating, and a couple of table-setting gifts from my own Mom ……
(back to balls jokes later, I promise)