There's just something about making Christmas cookies that brings out the inner child. It always feels so good to set aside time to make special cookies that are just for the holidays. Chapter 13 of the book highlights my first Christmas in Italy. I loved spending an entire day with Emma making cookies from mid-morning until late afternoon. The house smelled like almond, vanilla and raspberry jam. The table was covered in flour, sugar and every sprinkle we could find at the store in Siena. Every possible empty spot on the wooden kitchen countertop was covered with cookies that we made. This tradition was one that I did every year in Italy. It was also a special time for me to spend with Emma and for us to share the cookies with others in San Gusme. These are memories that I treasure in my heart.
This year in Minnesota, I could not help but keep the tradition going. My mom is the keeper of traditions and so I got out my book and turned to page 171 to find her Christmas cookie recipe. I spent the entire morning rolling, cutting, baking and decorating. I forgot about all of the other things on my "to do" list and just enjoyed the moment of creating special treats for our family for Christmas. It always happens that an angel breaks a wing, or another cookie comes out not quite right, so it's my opportunity to taste them and make sure they are good!
What traditional cookies do you make? This year and every year, I wish you the happiest holiday season ever!
Mom’s Christmas Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Next add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat well. Add the baking powder, salt and flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be very stiff. You may need to mix the last cup by hand. Place the dough (covered) in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes.
Divide the dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, flatten each ball into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Use a rolling pin covered well with flour, add more as you roll out.
Use your favorite shaped cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Transfer the cookies with a floured metal spatula to a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
Bake cookies for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Baking time may depend on the size of the cookies.
Repeat steps for additional cookies.
1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
3-4 tsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)
Once the cut-out cookies are cool, frost them with the icing using a small spoon or knife. Add sprinkles and decorate as you like.