I love to bake. On Sunday I set out to make our holiday cookies. The only ones I make every year are cut-outs and peanut-butter kisses (but we use mini peanut butter cups instead of kisses because Mark is a PB freak). The others on the list were made on a whim. So, after sitting down with my recipe box and binder I came up with a stack of 5 recipes and got started. I had high hopes of finishing it all in one day (ha!).
First up – were the PB Kisses:Tip: parchment paper is your friend (if someone wants to get me 2 1/2-sheet pan Silpats for Christmas, I could save some trees). Use it on your pans for quick clean-up but also prep all your cookies at once on parchment, without having to wait for an empty cookie sheet.
Mini Peanut Butter cups get really melty. So after they cool on the rack, I pop them in the freezer to firm up.
These got separated into 2 batches – one for Christmas and one for Mark…there was no way he could wait to gobble these up.
Next I made the cut-out dough and put it in the fridge to chill and rest. I’ve been making cut-outs for the family since high school when I got disgusted with my mom using store-bought cookie dough to make them. In her defense she used to make them from scratch but with 3 kids (and all the cussing that came from the kitchen), she found an easier way. Anyway, I have a system for making cut-outs which usually takes 3 days because I normally make a double batch of dough. Day 1: make dough, separate into 4 batches and flatten on parchment, chill overnight. Day 2: roll, cut and bake. Spend hours cleaning up all the flour. Day 3: frost cookies beautifully with homemade buttercream, preferably using melted chocolate for detail work – yum! But this year it was a single batch and I did everything from dough to baking in one day.
Then it was on to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I tried a new recipe that was just okay, no photos since everyone knows what oatmeal chocolate chip cookies look like. The recipe made a TON of cookies, so there are some for now, some for Christmas and a big bag in the freezer for the future.
Next I took a 2 hour nap and woke up with a huge headache, but the baking must go on! I made no-bake square buckeyes (which are buckeyes, made into bars and topped with melted chocolate so you don’t have to roll and dip). They are basically just peanut butter, sugar and butter – yum!
Then we moved on to rolling and cutting the cut-outs. M had a blast helping me press the cookie cutters in the dough, but the real fun started when I gave her the dough scraps for her to play with. She made cookies, a “santa cake” and a “princess castle cake”.
I had grand plans for finishing out the evening by making chrusciki or Polish “Angel Wings” (that’s not the recipe I use, but you can see what they are). I’m the only one left in my family who knows how to make them, because I took the time to have my Busia walk me through the process a few times. They are delicate, not too sweet fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. People love them. But, I was exhausted and chrusciki are very labor intensive, not to mention that the recipe makes dozens and dozens of cookies and I’ve never had any luck halving the recipe. And my Busia would haunt me if I wasted half of the dough. So I went to bed, instead. Monday night I entertained the thought of making them, but I didn’t have the energy.
Tuesday night we had a rare week-night date at the Cavs game with awesome seats. Plus we got two Shaq bobbleheads. Score!
Tonight, we frosted the cut-outs with homemade buttercream frosting but no chocolate because I am lazy. M again had a great time “painting” the cookies when her fingers weren’t in her mouth (don’t worry, we separated those out). She even made a few to take to her teacher. She was so proud of her work.
And now, with 4 of the 5 recipes done I’m calling it quits. Our extended-family Christmas is this weekend and hopefully most of these cookies will be consumed. I used to do huge plates of 7-8 different kinds of cookies for friends and co-workers, but this year I just don’t have the time or energy. Funny how being 5 months pregnant will do that to you.
What are your holiday baking traditions?