My holiday does not start until the day I put on my favorite Christmas CD which is the Andy Williams Christmas Album (whom we lost this past year). Memories flood back to me of my mom’s kitchen full of beloved cookie cutters and giggling kids on a sugar high. We always grabbed for the same cookie book printed in the 1960’s and mom made our traditional butter cookie dough with a rainbow array of icing bowls. For me and my sisters (all artists), this was our creative outlet and our chance to shine!
I still have that cookie book (no cover anymore and I keep it in a baggie) and I traditionally have my kids and their friends over for a cookie day. But this year was a little different. My kids are getting older and their enthusiasm is being taken over by other interests which I guess is natural as it did with me at their age. So, this year I tried something different.
I found a recipe in another favorite cookie book by Martha Stewart (I know, so predictable, but her recipes are so good). This one was a cross between a butter cookie and a gingerbread flavor… a spice cookie. I liked the light brown color of the baked cookie and if I had dark corn syrup instead of light, the color would have been slightly darker brown. Instead of different colored icing, I decided to go with just white and do linear decorations so that the taste of the cookie did not get too overpowered by sweet icing. I had a lot of fun designing each icing pattern and no two were exactly alike. I did have to keep taking breaks in between hand cramps!
The results brought me back to the days in my mom’s kitchen and my sisters even complimented me on the cookie plate I brought to Christmas dinner. Hopefully my kids will come back to me and realize that family traditions are an important part of life.
S P I C E D C U T O U T S (Martha Stewart)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
5 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Basic Icing: Powder sugar, touch of vanilla, milk and 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (This is my own recipe)
1. Melt butter with corn syrup, and vinegar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool. Sift flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into a large bowl; stir into butter mixture. Stir in eggs until batter is very smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (You can keep it longer in the fridge if you don’t have time to bake them all at once).
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out shapes and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool and then ice.
Note: I iced my cookies using a ziplock back with a very small opening snipped off the corner. Of course you could always use a piping bag if you have one.