Tag Archives: Christmas cookies

Christmas Cookies Time

Christmas Cookies

Pfefferneuse Christmas cookies and German, Swiss and Dutch ornaments

Are you ready for Christmas cookies? Check out the recipes I posted last year and stay tuned for this year’s versions for a German Christmas cookies.

Grandma Vera’s Sugar Cookies

Adults Only Christmas Cookies

Pferfferneuse Fruit Cake Cookies

Rhema’s Raisin Bars

Agnes’ Refrigerator Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Christmas Cookies: Grandma Vera’s Sugar Cookies

Traditional Christmas cookies

Traditional Christmas cookies

Finally, we get to the quintessential Christmas cookie.  Yes, there are worthwhile traditions and delicious reasons to make all those other cookies, but the cookie that really means Christmas is the cut-out, frosted, sugar cookie.

In our family, that means Grandma Vera Anderson’s Sugar Cookie recipe. It also means help from whatever youngsters are around for some creative decorating.  I love the traditional Santa Claus and Christmas tree cookies, but gather a bunch of 3 to13-year-olds around colored icing and bottles of sprinkles and you never can tell what the final product will be.   A blue Santa. A Christmas tree with tiny dinosaurs and stars?

Creative Christmas Cookies

Creative Christmas Cookies

This is  the recipe that is so similar to the sugar cookie that Brette Sember told us about — the one that originated in her family with her great-grandmother.  As Brette explained, the dough is difficult to handle and the full recipe makes way too many cookies, but the taste and texture are unique and it is all totally worth it when you bite into Grandma’s sugar cookies.

I usually make these with sour cream, but this year went back to souring milk with a little vinegar the way that Grandma did.  I also used Crisco, since that was what I remember her using in her cookies.  Although I usually use butter,  they do not taste all that different.

Christmas sugar Cookies

Cookie decorating station

Finally, don’t worry if you have to add flour. It’s a sticky dough and I probably use another two cups of flour by the time I’m through–on the cloth I roll them out on, on the rolling pin sleeve, and on the dough itself.  It is a delicate balance, because too much flour and you wind up with a cardboardy cookie instead of the crisp on the outside, soft on the inside texture you want.

Andrew decorating Christmas sugar cookies.

Andrew decorating Christmas sugar cookies.

This time around, the recipe made 8 dozen sugar cookies–and that includes some large Santas and Christmas trees as well as small bells and stars.

Although I did not include a frosting recipe, I use a simple one– two cups of confectioner sugar to 1/4 cup butter, with a couple spoonfuls of milk and a dash of vanilla. I probably made four times that much for this batch of cookies. Kids slather the frosting on more thickly than you might, so take that into consideration.

Grandchildren and Christmas Sugar Cookies

Rachael is wearing her great-great-grandmother Vera’s apron, and Andrew his grandmother’s apron.

Plus you need to have separate dishes of red, green, gold–and, yes, blue besides leaving some white. Make the cookie dough two days before decorating and store in fridge.  Bake a day before so the kids won’t have to wait impatiently for cookies to dress up. Then all hands put on their aprons and away they go.

Grandma Vera’s Sugar Cookies

Serves 8 doz.
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup lard, Veg. shortening or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour milk
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 1/2-4 cups flour

Directions

1. Sift together dry ingredients
2. Cream butter and sugars
3. Add eggs, sour milk and dry ingredients to butter/sugar. Mix. Chill
4. Roll out to 1/8" thick and cut with cookie cutters.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes

Note

Our ancestors might leave out their milk to sour, but ours is pasteurized and will spoil rather than sour, but  you have options.  I use sour cream.  You can also use buttermilk. Or, you can create sour milk by adding 1 Tbls. vinegar to 1 C. fresh whole milk and letting it sit for five minutes. (My grandmother taught me that trick.)

I use butter instead of lard or vegetable shortening because I like the buttery taste, but to be completely authentic, lard would be best.

The amount of flour I use seems to vary from year to year.  Grandma's recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups, but I seldom can get a solid dough and have to add another 1/2 cup, plus very liberally flouring the surface on which I'm rolling out the dough.  At any rate, it will be a very soft dough.

You do want the raw cookies to be as thin as 1/4 inch or less because these cookies puff up, and you'll lose sight of the shape you are trying to create if you make them any thicker.

Because they are so thin and so delicate, be sure to keep a close eye on the oven while you are baking.  I find that the first tray may take a little longer to bake than subsequent ones. Whether you are using dark or shiny pans will change the equation.  Just keep an eye on them. They need to come out when they are showing a hint of brown around the edges.  They will still feel puffy-soft when you gently touch the center, but because they are thin, they will finish baking on the cooling rack.

If you don't want to bother with frosting, you can sprinkle the tops with sugar--white or colored--before baking.

Adults Only Christmas Cookies: Bourbon Balls

Santa and bourbon balls. Agnes Badertscher made the winking Santa Mug in 1968.

Santa and bourbon balls

These are the only cookies on my list that are labeled “adults only.” And they are the cookies that must be made at least a week before they are going to be eaten, so hurry–you’re just getting here in time to make Bourbon Balls for Christmas. The winking Santa Mug  was made by Agnes Badertscher  in 1968.

Don’t worry, Bourbon balls are simple to make–no baking–and they make your kitchen smell heavenly. Bourbon and chocolate and pecans.  Yum.

Everybody loves Christmas Cookies, but everyone also has a favorite.  I’ve talked about my late father-in-law’s favorite cookie, Pfefferneuse; about my three boys favorite when they were small, their Grandma Badertscher’s  Butterscotchers; about my husband’s favorite, Double Crunchers and about everyone’s favorite, Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake. Since you have to check driver’s licenses before you hand out Bourbon Balls, pretty much everybody wants to get their hands (or mouths) on these little flavor bombs, too, but the one person who really kicks up a fuss if he doesn’t get his yearly Bourbon Balls is my brother, Bill (Paul William) Kaser.

The recipe is below, but the first step in the directions should really be “Take off any rings you are wearing and wash your hands well.”  Because you are definitely going to dig your hands into the dough on these. There’s no other way to make them.

Christmas Cookie: Bourbon Balls

Serves 5 doz. small cookies
Allergy Tree Nuts, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Occasion Christmas

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (11 oz box)
  • 1 1/4 cup pecans (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup (Either light or dark)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup bourbon (See note)
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 4 tablespoons powdered unsweetened cocoa

Directions

1. Mix wafers, pecans, cocoa and corn syrup. Add in enough bourbon to make a sticky dough. It will still be somewhat crumbly.
2. Scoop up the dough by scant spoonfuls, press together with hand. Roll between palms into a ball about 1/2 " in diameter.
3. Mix well the confectioners sugar and 4 Tablespoons cocoa in a small bowl.
4. Roll each ball in the sugar mixture until coated.
5. If you want a more dense covering of sugar/cocoa, let stand an hour or so then roll again before storing in airtight container to ripen for at least a week.

Note

Although I traditionally make these as bourbon balls, they can also morph into rum balls, chocolate liqueur balls, or even anise-flavored ouzo balls. Don't be afraid to experiment. However, just as when you cook with wine, the better the quality of the liquor, the better the taste of the finished product.