Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cookies and Connections

I have tasted many cookies in my lifetime. I am a fan of the peanut butter blossom. I enjoy a nice chocolate chip. I won’t turn away even monster cookie.

There continues to be one cookie that tastes better than all cookies.

Each Christmas season, my mother along with her two sisters would gather at my childhood home. Sugar sprinkles in hand, they continued the ritual of making and rolling of the dough. Santas, stars, and bells would be cut and gently placed on the cookie sheet. Years went by as I sat on the sidelines watching this yearly tradition where I saw each sister in their assumed job descriptions. My mother was always the roller. She made the dough and had the art of rolling and cutting down to perfection. She placed the cookies on the pan and passed it to my Aunt Sandy who would place them into the oven and watch over the cookies as to not burn the once-a-year treat. The cookies were removed once the edges became a yellow-gold and passed to my Aunt Joy who held the position of sugar sprinkler. She would sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar and I would be called in as a back up at this point.

The cookies have proved to be the perfect Christmas cookie because they can be sprinkled, frosted, or left completely plain to be enjoyed. The perfect cookie is a sugar cookie. Most sugar cookies that require frosting are hard and sometimes tasteless, but this cookie stays soft and has a yummy taste of almond and vanilla.

With years of apprenticeship under my belt, I am now able to complete the whole cookie process on my own. My mother could complete the cookie process on her own too, but how lucky she was to have her sisters to experience this Christmas pastime year after year. How lucky I am to have watched and appreciated the art of the perfect Christmas cookie and the connections this tradition brings to the past and the present.

1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Creamy Decorator’s Frosting (Below)

Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Heat oven to 375°F. Divide dough in half. Roll each half 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered surface. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters, or cut around patterns traced from storybook illustrations. If cookies are to be hung as decorations, make a hole in each 1/4 inch from top with end of plastic straw. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Frost and decorate cookies as desired with Creamy Decorator’s Frosting and colored sugars.

Creamy Decorator’s Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoon milk or half-and-half

Stir together all ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color if desired.


Reddog said...

I have used Sara's sugar cookie recipe, and it is very tasty. Be sure not to overcook them. Bake only for 7 minutes. Baking sugar cookies has turned out to be one of my Christmas traditions too.

Courtney said...

Can't wait to bake with you this holiday season!