Making and decorating cookies is one of our family’s Christmas traditions. I don’t make as many kinds as I used to, since the last thing I need is more tempting desserts hanging around the house, but when I tried skipping the cookies altogether, we all felt that part of Christmas was missing.
With our kids grown, we’ve evolved a new tradition. I make the cookies—either rolled butter cookies or gingerbread men—and then we all get together to decorate them. (See the bottom of the page for my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe.) At the end of the day, the cookies go home with the artists.
This year we opted for gingerbread. We arrived at our daughter’s house with a pile of naked cookies, mixed up some colored frosting, and got to work.
The first cookies were somewhat traditional. Eyes, mouth, and three buttons down the front. Hmmm. That was all right, but a good cookie definitely needs more frosting. Our son-in-law outlined a shirt and pants, but that still left large areas of bare cookie. If you’re going to frost a cookie, let’s do a thorough job!
We got more creative as the afternoon progressed.
This is meant to be Pete and I at the beach. Pete, with his Finnish roots, burns easily, so his sunburn is appropriate, as is the dark tan on me (I grew up at the beach). Unfortunately, my shape is fairly accurate, too, which is why I haven’t worn a bikini in well over 30 years!
Here we have a mermaid, a hula girl, and another bikini-clad beach-goer.
As the evening wore down, we finally reverted to more traditional Christmas symbols. We weren’t sure what swaddling cloths looked like, so we opted for a couple of Santas instead…
Decorating cookies is one tradition I expect to keep for many years to come. What are your favorite Christmas cookies?
1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. vinegar
5 cups flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 – 3 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, molasses and vinegar and mix on high speed until fluffy.
Sift together dry ingredients and mix into butter and sugar mixture. Chill at least 3 hours.
Roll out on floured board and cut with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to greased baking sheet. Note that the more you gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough, the tougher the cookies get. Try to be efficient when arranging the cookie cutters on the rolled out dough.
Bake at 350°F for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Decorate when cooled.