We made and decorated Christmas sugar cookies tonight.
This was a big event for me. One of the things I was most looking forward to about starting a family was doing activities together, and carrying on family traditions. And decorating sugar cookies is one of my fondest memories of a family activity from my childhood. I've been waiting three Christmases for this night.
I wasn't sure whether Valerie would get into it or not, but we've been reading a story about Christmas cookies every night before bed, and she loves it, so I thought we would give it a try. A friend and her daughter came over, and we let the girls stir the ingredients while I measured them into the bowl. Valerie helped roll out the dough, and she helped press down the cookie cutters. Then she got a little too enthusiastic and started overlapping with the cookie cutter, making all kinds of strange and interesting shapes. I baked the wonky shapes anyhow, because they were part of the fun.
Valerie put too many sprinkles on her cookies, and had a great time doing it. I just let her have her fun, and used a paper funnel to put the extra sprinkles back every time she emptied the shaker.
Babies are great and all, but it sure is fun having a kid.
Aunt Betty's Sugar Cookies
This is an inherited recipe from my mom's Aunt Betty. It is my all-time favorite sugar cookie recipe. The dough rolls out beautifully and, best of all, it doesn't require refrigeration.
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup (heaping) sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Pre-heat oven to 375.
- Sift together first 3 ingredients.
- Cut shortening into dry ingredients (until mixture resembles small crumbs).
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar to eggs and mix well. Stir last three ingredients into the egg mixture. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
- Roll the dough (half at a time) on a lightly floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Bake for 6-10 minutes until centre bounces back when gently touched (don't let them get brown!).
- Allow to cool completely before decorating. Decorate with Icing Sugar Icing, candies and sprinkles.
Icing Sugar Icing
(This recipe is so simple that I don't even have it written down anywhere. I hope it makes sense.) Fill a bowl with icing sugar. Add water, a dribble at a time, stirring after each addition, until the icing is a spreadable consistency. It doesn't take much water (something like a teaspoon per cup of icing sugar), so don't add a lot at once. Add food coloring if desired. This icing will dry fairly hard if you leave the cookies out overnight.
This is a surprisingly easy variation that works beautifully. Prepare the dough as directed above. Cut out fairly large cookies (I use a plastic cup or margarine container, or even just a knife, because I don't have any big cookie cutters). Now cut smaller holes out of the middle of the large cookies (4-5 cm diameter). Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place a hard candy in the center of each. (I also used broken candy cane pieces, and they worked well, too.) Bake as directed above. The candies will melt and spread to fill the holes during the baking time. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the parchment paper before attempting to move them, so the candy has time to harden.