My daughter has been baking. I started teaching her to cook when she was a tiny thing. I have a picture of us mixing up Davy Crockett Bars together when she was 4 or 5 years old. She was standing on a stool next to me, and I had turned away to talk to someone. Meanwhile, she was caught on film upending the plastic bottle of vanilla and adding another tablespoon or two to the batch! I wondered why that batch of bars had a stronger vanilla taste. . . .
She has been baking this Christmas in my stead because I had some major surgery in November and am still recovering. The latest batch of Christmas baking she has done is my mother’s recipe for cut-out butter cookies that she found on the back of a package of cookie cutters she bought in the 1970s. These cookies are very simple but delicious, especially when decorated with colored sugar and candy sprinkles.
Christmas Butter Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups butter (no substitutions)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
4 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Cream together butter and sugar.
- Add egg and vanilla to creamed mixture and stir until well mixed.
- Combine all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture.
- Chill dough before rolling out and cutting with cookie cutters of your choice.
- Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 8-10 minutes.
How many cookies this recipe yields depends on the size of your cutters and how thin you roll out the dough. We find that it makes around 36 medium-size cookies. If you like a crisp cookie, roll dough thinner and bake until golden. If you like a more moist cookie, roll out the dough thicker and don’t bake as brown.
Add a little water to a lot of powdered sugar to make the icing for decorating the cookies. As kids, we all got little bowls and brushes of this sugar glue to help make the decorations stick.
My mother colored all kinds of sugar with paste cake decorating food color. We also used chocolate shot, tiny silver candy balls, multicolored sprinkles, crushed candy canes, and cinnamon candies. Our huge kitchen table, and much of the floor around it, were covered with these toppings by the time we had finished decorating the last of the cookies and set them to dry on metal racks.
My mother used to use a round cake decorating tip to put a hole in the top of each unbaked cookie so that once they were decorated, a ribbon could be inserted and the cookies hung on the Christmas tree. How we fit as many cookies as nine kids could decorate onto a tree already two and three deep per branch with ornaments was a Christmas miracle.
Every day leading up to Christmas, we each would be allowed to cut one decorated cookie from the tree as a treat. When the tree was taken down after Christmas, whoever found a cookie could eat it–stale but still wonderful. Finding an undetected cookie was yet another Christmas miracle! Begonia