Baking - Cookies

Christmas Cookie Tradition

For the last couple years I have hosted gingerbread cookie decorating for my family during the Christmas holidays. We moved this year, too far for my family to come over for a cookie decorating afternoon, but I really wanted to keep up the tradition. So we decided to try and use it as an opportunity to get to know some new people in our neighbourhood.

We weren’t sure just how many people would come, but I wanted to have plenty of cookies, so I spent several evenings making sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies in various Christmas shapes – trees, snowflakes and gingerbread persons.

I got lots of little candies for decorating, and made some royal icing (which my daughter kept calling the ‘glue’). I also got some disposable piping bags, as I thought that would be slightly less messy, and possibly safer for kids, than spreading icing with a knife.

We had several families come and had a great time, plenty of sugary Christmas spirit enjoyed by all. But we had A LOT of everything left over. I knew we would never use it all ourselves, having already received a lot of holiday baking from other people. My sister-in-law works part time at a women’s shelter, and I decided to ask if they might appreciate having the extras. She took it all in a few days before Christmas, and I was so glad that all those cookies and treats would be enjoyed by some very courageous people. I hope that these will be traditions we can continue for many Christmases to come!

Baking - Cookies

Dominoes Cookies

20140513_163344I hosted a games night at our church this past week, and thought it would be fun to make some game themed cookies as part of the refreshments. I had originally thought of making square cookies and piping letters on each of them, like Scrabble tiles. But then I thought that dominoes might be easier, and require less for a full set!

I made a basic sugar cookie recipe, and used a wooden ruler to measure equal rectangle shapes, and used a pizza wheel to cut them out. It was super easy, and they were all perfectly uniform. I was going to use mini m&ms for the dots on each cookie, so I did a test cookie with m&ms on it before baking, and was glad I did because the m&ms cracked from the heat of the oven and didn’t look very good. After that, I used the end of a chopstick to mark where all the dots would go, then baked the cookies, and made a small amount of royal icing to stick on the m&ms once the cookies were cooled.

It only took a very small dot of royal icing to attach each m&m, and it was easy to fit them into all the pre-marked dots. They were pretty simple to make, eye-catching, tasty, and a big hit at the games night; a winning combination all around!

Baking - Cookies, Decorating, Festivals/Events

Peppermint Pinwheels

Our church recently had a bake sale, and suggested that Christmas themed goods are usually a hit. I thought I would make a variation of my old favourite candy cane cookies. Candy cane cookies to me are kind of a combination of ice box and sugar cookies; not quite crispy like ice box often get, but similar in terms of letting the dough chill.

But candy cane cookies are a pain to make. Rolling out thin strands of dough and trying to twist them together without breaking them usually results in me getting very frustrated, because they keep breaking. I thought it might be easier this time to roll our the different colours of dough, stack the sheets, roll them up like a jelly roll, and slice the cookies once chilled. It worked really well.

I was worried the spirals might not hold together well, since I had floured each sheet of dough when rolling them out. But once they were baked they held together just fine. I might, in future, lightly brush the sheets with water to help them stick together a little better, but other than that I wouldn’t change a thing.

They are so eye-catching, and have a subtle peppermint flavour. They definitely make a festive and cheerful addition to any Christmas event. I’m not going to copy the recipe out here this time, but you can find it in the Better homes and Gardens ‘New Cook Book,’ which has a red checkered picnic blanket cover on it. Happy Holiday Baking!