I am in love with Christmas cookies and have been for many years. There is just something about a sweet treat with that special holiday touch that just puts me in a particularly festive mood each December. In past years, I have always purchased our Christmas cookies from a wonderful bakery here that has been open since before I was born. But, a few months ago, the bakery shut its doors, and the owner said it would not be reopening, which has been a sad development for our community indeed.
Given the loss of the bakery, I vowed that I would do my best to learn to bake our treasured decorated Christmas cookies on my own. I’ve spent hours and days researching cookies and recipes and decorating techniques. I have bought many supplies, and after baking an initial small test batch, I have now completed my first big batch of decorated Christmas cookies. Thankfully, this is something that I can do, at least well enough to make my family (and even some friends) quite happy. And as a result of all my cookie research, I even chose to make several different kinds of cookies this year to see if we can find a few more favorite holiday cookies, too.
In an effort to make some of my Christmas gifts a little more personal this year, I just completed eight big assorted cookie platters and gave them away to some friends and family members this past weekend, calling it a “Twelve Days of Christmas” gift, and five of the eight platters went to elderly friends and family members.
I opted to give them well before Christmas for some good reasons. The main reasons in giving them early were to get them done ahead of my Christmas cooking rush, give them while they are freshest, and free up the week prior to Christmas for me to finish up shopping, wrapping, cooking and house cleaning. Another good reason for giving them early was to keep everyone from just having yet more sweets to eat on Christmas Eve/Day. I think most people will enjoy having a cookie or two each day leading up to Christmas, and everyone just loved them when I delivered them.
Here is the list of cookies that I baked, with links to the recipes. I tried to have a variety of cookies on the platters, and I also chose to avoid cookies with nuts in them, as I was not sure if a couple of people might have nut allergies. Also, as you can see from the list below, I chose to add a few non-cookie treats to the platters for variety and to get the count up to twelve items for the “Twelve Days of Christmas” theme.
Vanilla Almond Decorated Sugar Cookies
(Wilton recipe, various cutout shapes)
And from this same cookie recipe, I also made a few
Stained Glass Christmas Tree Cookies with Red Hot Berries.
Easy, easy, easy to do! 😉
Chocolate Pepper*Mint* Cookies
(The Idea Room)
Candy Cane Cookies
(This Betty Crocker recipe is similar to our family recipe.)
Snickerdoodles with Red/Green Holiday Sugars
(Betty Crocker recipe)
Apricot Linzer Sandwich Cookies
And, I just could not resist baking the tiny little snowman cutout centers!
Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
(Food Network – I used fresh chopped cranberries)
Ginger Crinkle Cookies
(Jamie Deen, Food Network)
Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
Holiday Shaped Pretzels
(found at World Market, a salty option to offset the sweets)
Bob’s Candy Canes
(a long-time family tradition)
Hershey’s Chocolate/Caramel Kisses
(a tasty variation to the traditional kisses)
For the record, the following blog posts were invaluable to me in coming up with a special decorated sugar cookie that I know we will love this year and many years to follow. This was my primary goal in learning to bake our traditional Christmas cookies, and I’m thrilled to know now that I can continue that tradition for my family. I actually think these cookies may rival or best the bakery cookies, too.
The Pioneer Woman – Decorated Christmas Cookies
As always, her detailed posts answer so many questions and the pictures are wonderful!
Bake At 350: Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookie Recipe
I am not using this exact recipe, but it’s very close to the Wilton recipe that I used. The recipe is down the page a bit, and her detailed information here and at Pioneer Woman’s post above is very helpful.
Bake At 350: Royal Icing Tutorial
This is probably the best tutorial on Royal Icing that I’ve found and helped me get it right the very first time, especially with the additional information from The Pioneer Woman’s post on making and working with the flow/flood icing.
Happy holiday baking! Christmas Day is just a week away!