Archive for: christmas cookies
Sugar cookies are one of the most classic and crowd-pleasing cookies out there. They’ve always been a staple of the Christmas cookie platter at my house, and since they are easy to dress up with colored sprinkles, they are usually a hit with the kids. I definitely remember rolling sugar cookie dough in all kinds of crazy colored sprinkles and decorations (some tasted better than others, if I recall correctly!) in preparation for the holidays.
I still like sugar cookies, but I wanted my Christmas Sugar Cookies to have a little bit more of a grown up look this time around and I did that by toning down their color a notch. The cookie dough is rolled in sugar before baking, but I added a small amount of red and green sugar crystals to the plain white sugar to give the cookies just a hint of color. I really liked the look of the finished cookies, since they looked festive without looking over the top. Of course, if you do want to take them over the top, you can go ahead and skip the white sugar and just roll your cookie dough in colored sugar!
These cookies are also delicious. Even though they are simple, they have a great buttery-vanilla flavor to them and a nice chewiness. Rolling them in sugar before baking makes the outer edge of the cookie a little bit crunchy, for a nice textural contrast, too. Don’t be tempted to over-bake the cookies, or they’ll lose some of their chewiness. These cookies will keep well when stored in an airtight container for a few days, but during the holiday season they probably won’t last that long!
Snowball cookies are a name that is generally given to small, round cookies that are covered in confectioners’ sugar and melt in your mouth. They look like tiny snowballs and have a wonderfully tender texture to them. I’ve had all kinds – from plain butter cookies to spice cookies – but one of my favorite variations is for Swirled Holiday Snowball Cookies. These cookies include red and green sprinkles in the dough, giving them pops of holiday color when you bite into them. After making yet another batch of these classics, I realized that I could put even more color into my snowballs so that you get a much bigger surprise when you bite through that layer of “snow.”
These Red Velvet Snowball Cookies are a fun holiday cookie to make. The dough for the cookies is bright red and it has that familiar hint of cococa flavor to it that a red velvet cake has. Unlike a red velvet cake, however, there is no buttermilk in these cookies. Instead, they are made with plenty of butter – so they have a nice butter flavor – and with ground almonds, which keep them nice and tender. They’re a dramatic looking cookie, but they’re actually very simple to make and a great cookie to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.
The cookie base for this recipe is not too sweet so that when the cookies are coated with confectioners’ sugar after they have cooled, the flavors will all be balanced. This also means that you shouldn’t skimp on the confectioners’ sugar because you want the cookies to have that little extra sweetness as well as a generous coating of white “snow” to finish off their look.
Cutting out Christmas cookies can be a very fun job, but it can also become a very tedious one if you bake a lot of cookies for the holidays. It is fun to roll out the dough, cut your cookies and decorate them, but when you start to work in bigger batches you will find that you face problems like keeping the cookie cutters from getting sticky and trying to get a good arrangement with different shapes so that you have a nice variety of cookies. And, frankly, if you do more than a couple dozen cookies, your hands will get tired.
I spotted these neat Holiday Rocker Cookie Cutters in Williams Sonoma recently and liked how they helped to streamline the cookie cutting process. The cutters are set in wide, curved tools that you can just rock across your dough – like a rocking chair – cutting five cookies out at a time. They’re set close together, so there is minimal space between the cut-out cookies, so you will fit more cookies into each batch of dough with less re-rolling – and spend much less time wondering how you are going to puzzle all of your cookie cutters together to mazimize the number you can fit on one piece of dough. There are two cutters in each set, and each of them has five different cookie designs: The red rocker includes Santa, a Stocking, a Christmas Tree, a Candy Cane and a Holiday Tree Light, while the green rocker has a Gingerbread Boy, a Gingerbread Girl, a Snowman, a Snowflake and an Ornament. With a set like this, you will have a lot more time to spend decorating, since you’ll spend a lot less time cutting out those cookies. The set also includes with stencils to help you decorate the shapes you cut, too.
There are plenty of ways to decorate cookies. They can be shaped and sliced, rolled and cut with cookie cutters, topped with sprinkles or spread with frosting. Cookies can also be stamped with designs, and the Holiday Cookie Stamps from Williams Sonoma are a fun way to decorate cookies for the holidays. The stamps are made of cast aluminum (produced by Nordic Ware) and feature three different festive designs: a snowflake, a gift tag and a wreath. They stamps have very clear designs with a lot of detail, and there are smooth wooden handles on each stamp to make them easy to hold and use. Essentially, all you need to do is push the stamp down onto a ball of cookie dough and your holiday cookie is ready to bake.
The stamps performed very, very well and my cookies came out looking just like the cookies on the box. You could see every detail clearly, including the text that was printed on the cookies! The dough for must cutout cookies needs to be chilled before you roll it out. The dough for these does not need to be as cold (it’s easier to press the cookies the closer the dough is to room temperature). I do recommend chilling whatever dough you’re working with at least slightly, however, as dough that was too-warm did occasionally stick to the stamp. These will stay in my holiday toolbox and I might even keep an eye out for other holiday designs throughout the year.
The stamps are fun to use and the results are great. Choose a shortbread or butter cookie recipe that won’t spread much, such as my Classic Cutout Christmas Cookies, to get the cleanest results from the stamp. Also, be sure to clean the stamps extremely well with soap and water before you use them, as the cast aluminum can leave a little bit of residue/discoloring on the dough if they haven’t been thoroughly washed before use.
When you’re baking cookies for Christmas, it isn’t quite enough to do one batch of cookies. After all, if you’re going to bake only one day out of the year, it is probably for Christmas and you may as well go all out. A great cookie plate should have a variety of cookies that are all distinct in appearance, so your guests (and Santa) don’t need to ask what’s what and you won’t get bored after eating just a few.
Butter Cookies are perhaps the most classic Christmas cookies. They are delicious, not too sweet, and can be subject to a ridiculous number of variations. The easiest thing to do is roll the cookies into a log and slice-and-bake them into rounds, but you can also shape them with cookie cutters or press the dough through a cookie press for spritz cookies. A splash of almond extract, orange zest, toasted nuts or chocolate chips can really change the flavor of each batch.
Spicy, Chewy Molasses Cookies are some of the best gingersnap-type cookies I’ve tasted. As the name suggests, they are both spicy and chewy, full of holiday flavor and beautiful to look at on top of it. The cookies have a long ingredient list, not because they’re difficult to make, but because they include lots of spices. You’ll find ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and even black pepper in these. They also get an extra kick from a handful of candied ginger.