What are your favorite memories from Christmas growing up? My top 5 are as follows:
5) Getting to open one present on Christmas eve. Somehow that present always ended up being new PJ’s. I guess mom didn’t want us looking trashy in Christmas morning photos!
4) Watching cheesy Christmas movie classics.
3) Re-enacting the nativity scene with our small ceramic nativity set while mom read the story of Jesus’s birth aloud.
2) Getting to relax all day with my family and cook with my mom.
1) Making and decorating christmas cookies!
Needless to say my love for baking and cooking has always been there. Like I’ve said before my mom is one of the best bakers I know. She would make peanut brittle (which I often asked her to make without peanuts), chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, chex mix, and christmas spice cookies with buttercream icing. As I get older I’ve come to realize just how much work she put into baking all of these treats.
This brings me to todays recipe and this weeks theme. Today is one of my favorite holiday parties… The 3rd Annual Cookie Swap Party hosted by my best bud Amanda. It is not only my favorite because I get to bake copious amounts of cookies but also because I love getting together with my girlfriend’s. My girlfriends are like family. And what better way to spend an evening than talking, swapping cookies AND having a few glasses of spiked punch!
I made over 170 cookies this weekend. More recipes to come this week… Some of my cookies look better than others!
Cookie Baking Tip Of The Day: Chill your dough overnight in the fridge. The chilled dough makes the cookies cook up light, fluffy and moist. It also allows time for the spices in the dough to marinate! Very important in recipes that use spices like nutmeg, cinnamon or brown sugar.
This Christmas Spice Cookie recipe is actually rather easy to make and taste like the lightest, sweetest, perfectly spiced, buttery holiday cookie you will ever have. I learned the hard way that its better to under cook than over cook them. It’s easy to burn these guys! Oh and last but not least the buttercream icing. Never be afraid to use too much icing… never.
I also learned last year that you just can not substitute ingredients to try to make some recipes healthier. I tried splenda and Brummel & Brummel low calorie butter last year and it just didn’t work. Some recipes are ment to be bad for you and not vegan. I like to try to keep those types of recipes the way mom made them!
Christmas Spice Cookies: Makes 4-5 dozen, recipe from “Country Crock”
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Cup Country Crock Butter
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Butter Cream Icing:
1/2 Cup Solid Vegetable Shortening
1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
4 Cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons Milk
Directions for Cookies:
1) Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about a minute. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
3) Little by little add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix on a low setting until just combined.
4) Chill the dough in an airtight container for at least 3 hours, preferably 12 hours. You can chill for up to three days.
5) To bake, heat your oven to 375 degrees. When rolling and cutting the cookies make sure your surface is well powered with flour. You can’t use too much! I promise!
6) Roll out the dough in small batches to about a 1/4 an inch think. Use your favorite Christmas cookie cutters to cut the shapes.
7) Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes. Let cool on a cooling racks…
Directions for the icing:
1) Cream butter and vegetable oil in a large bowl with a hand mixer, about a minute. Add in vanilla.
2) Mix in powered sugar 1 cup at a time until well mixed.
3) Stir in milk. If it’s too watery add a bit more powdered sugar.
4) Add food coloring to make your fancy colors! Ice with icing bags. I use small glass jars to mix color a bit at a time.
To get ready for the abundance of calories I will be eating at tonight’s Cookie Swap Party I ran a lot of miles this weekend. Unfortunately Sundays 17 mile run didn’t go as planned. I ran much faster then I should have during Saturdays’ Ted Corbit 15K in Central Park. My calve was really really tight and started to get very strained during Sundays run, I only finished 13.5 miles. Today I’m still limping around. The moral of the story is that I need to not push myself hard on the first day so I can finish the distance the second day. Man this Goofy race is no joke!
Peter and I before the race started.
I ended up with a 9:25 pace. Not too difficult for me, but running long distances back to back was really hard on my body.
I’ll be back tomorrow to share pictures from tonight’s party. I will also share another cookie recipe for the best chocolate fudge cookies you have ever eaten!