Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

These cookies are THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE in my family. The golden goose of Christmas cookies. Every year, my mom made them. We would schedule it on the calendar. Cookie Day. We all knew what it meant. My dad would be off work and we would all take part of the cookie making process. My dad manned the ovens, making sure that the cookies didn't overbake.

My mom only brought out a small amount of dough at a time, because you have to cut them out while they are cold or they go all melty on you.

My sister and I stood around the workspace with aprons on, armed with floured cookie cutters. Flour was everywhere and when Mom said, "Go!" we furiously cut out cookies and got them on cookie trays before the dough got warm.

Then, Mom would put the scraps that were too small to cut back into the bowl, in the fridge, and scoop out another ball. She would then get it the perfect thickness, about a quarter of an inch, nicely floured and have us "Go" again.

Then, once they were all cut and baked and layed out to cool, we would all clean up the mess and get ready for the decorating.

Mom would mix up the icing, the powdered sugar kind. She and dad would ice the cookies and pass them down to my sister and I. We would shake on sprinkles and colored sugar. My mom and dad would tell me dozens of times not to overload the cookies with sprinkles. I would lighten it up for a while and then sprinkle them heavily again.

Cause, you know they're much prettier with tons of sugar. Then eventually, my dad would let me know I had too much sugar on them by tipping over my cookie and the rain of sugar that didn't stick would fall down on the parchment papered table. "Seriously?" I would get. Thus chastized, I would descreetly sprinkle them again.

Now, it's my daughter that over-sprinkles the cookies and the fireman that man's the ovens and the youngest boy that's punching out the angel cookie shape that is so hard to make come out right. The other boys are doing most of the snacking. Seriously.

This dough has to be refridgered the day before. It goes something like this.
Cream your butter and sugar til it forms a ball, then add your eggs one at a time. You must use real butter. Add your vanilla here.

Add 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes or so.

Then add your baking soda to the cream, stir well before adding to the sugar mixture. Add 4 teaspoons of baking powder to 5 cups of flour. Add this slowly to the rest of your mixture.

Once it's all mixed well, put some cling wrap on it and refridgerate it overnight. Easy!

The next day when you are ready to start baking. You will be using a well floured surface and whatever cookie cutters you want to use. You should have a bowl of flour on the counter to dip the cookie cutters in before cutting. This keeps them floured between cuts. Have a few cookie sheets available, already greased and ready to go. Have your oven preheated at 400. Also have a few hard pancake turners available to scrape up dough that becomes melty or to pick up cookies that stick a bit.

Start with a small ball about 4 inches across. Scoop it out, it should be nice and cold, a bit sticky. Flour it well, and roll it to 1/4 inch thick. Then "GO", cut out cookies giving them a little shake to loosen them and plop them on cookie sheets.

Try to get as many as possible out of the roll. Then transfer your scraps back into your bowl and get another chunk out. You can reuse your scrap once it's cold enough. In the end you will have a bit of scrap left that you can just flour and roll like a snake and shape, just press it down to about 1/4 inch thick so it bakes evenly.

These bake very quickly, my recipe card says 6 minutes, but we were taking them out at about 4 minutes. Just keep checking on them. They do spread some, so keep them from about an inch apart. Do not let them get browned. Once they are starting to lightly brown at the edge, they are done!

 They bake up like pillows, soft and buttery and sweet. So extremely tender and soft that it's hard not to pop a dozen in your mouth.

They may be a bit of work, but when you taste them you will not regret it.

They need to be laid somewhere to cool. It is helpful to have a man around to do this for you. It's nice to look at as well.

We laid magazines under the waxed paper so the heat didn't hurt the table. We didn't have enough cooling racks and this worked great. Besides, you'll need the paper for the decorating process.
Just look how soft and fluffy!

We are decorating Tuesday night because the boys had to go back to their mom's Sunday evening and we didn't have time. So, we sealed them up good so they wouldn't dry out.

I will update with the decorating portion tomorrow! Too big of a deal to only get one post!

Is anyone else baking Christmas Cookies?

The Recipe:
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (cream these til it forms a ball)
4 eggs, add one at a time
2 teaspoons vanilla, added to butter mixture
1 cup sweet heavy cream (the real thing) with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in small bowl and
add 2 teaspoon baking soda to cream, stir well
Add 4 teaspoons baking powder to 5 cups of flour
Work the flour mixture slowly to the wet mixture until combined. Cover and let refridgerate overnight.

Roll out on well floured surface. Work in small batches to keep dough soft. Bake cookies for 4-6 minutes at 400 degrees.


Anonymous said...

Good Times!!!!!!

Jana said...

Awe, Jen. What lovely Christmas memories. :-)

I recall a few messy cookie experiments when we were kids, too. That's the stuff Christmas is made of.

JenMarie said...

I totally agree. It's important to make traditions and memories.