Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent Calendar, Day 7

Today's activity: Bake Christmas cookies!

I have been baking since I was pretty young. My mom is an excellent baker (and cook), and I started out licking the spoon when she was done and progressed to helping her mix things together. I still love licking the batter off of the mixing spoon, though. Mom and I spent many happy hours mixing, scooping, and baking cookies every year. She always used to wear the same apron, which she passed on to me as part of an ongoing cleaning project. I wore it today, paired with an appropriately-themed shirt.

I still love to bake, though these days I don't have much time. So I set aside a whole day for cookie baking! I made four different kinds of cookies...probably twelve dozen in all. Some is for a grab bag gift, some is for a package I'm mailing to my aunt and uncle in Arizona, and the rest will get eaten up by us!

I started with sugar cookies. I decided to use pre-made dough, since I wanted to focus on the decorating. I baked them first so they would be completely cooled by the time I was ready to decorate.

One pan, fifteen minutes, done. My next recipe was Peanut Blossoms, which have been my favorite for a long time. They can be made from a mix or even the pre-made peanut butter cookie dough, but I had to make these from scratch. It's the original Pillsbury recipe, winner of the Bake-Off contest more than 50 years ago, and you can find it here.

My next recipe was a variation on another old favorite. We have a recipe for chocolate-chocolate chip cookies, which Mom found many years ago on the back of some package. I replaced the chocolate chips with peppermint chips for a minty twist.

The final cookie variety was Jason's request: spritz cookies. The dough needs to be worked through a cookie press and it comes out in different shapes, depending on the disc you use.

 I saved the recipe for last in order to give the butter and cream cheese time to soften. Mom likes to forward me recipes, and she sent me a new one that looked promising. The dough was very easy to put together, just six ingredients. You can find the recipe here. I dyed half of the dough green to make Christmas trees and left the other half uncolored to make snowflakes.

Once everything was baked, the last project was to decorate the sugar cookies. I looked up some techniques, and while they came out all right, I think I need more practice.

I cut bell-shaped jelly candies in half with kitchen shears to make the ornament toppers.

Jason did the snowman design today, a dapper little fella.

He's ready to have a jolly good time. Perhaps even a holly, jolly Christmas.

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