Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This is a Christmas Cookie

Hermits, the 19th-century cookie stuffed with raisins and black walnuts--
no, in my estimation, not a Christmas cookie.

Date Pinwheels, a delicious brown sugar cookie filled with dates and pecans--
maybe a Christmas cookie, but no, not quite.

The only cookie that symbolizes Christmas for me
 is the simple sugar cookie, rolled and cut out in Christmas-y shapes:
reindeer, bells, stars, Santas, gingerbread men, angels.
Crispy when baked under sprinkles of colored sugar,
soft when decorated with colorful frostings and a scattering of nonpareils,
sugar cookies have been part of every Christmas celebration
in my mom's family for more than a half-century.

photo courtesy of

My maternal grandmother made sugar cookies every year.
She never frosted them. She sprinkled half with red sugar, half with green.
And they were very crispy. She placed them in a tin and would serve them
with coffee when the family gathered on Christmas Eve.

On the other hand, my mom's sugar cookies were baked with two purposes.
Some were baked with a red kidney bean placed in the top 
to create a hole for threading curling ribbon.
These were frosted and hung on the Christmas tree as decorations.
The remainder were for eating.
Making and decorating sugar cookies was a ritual every Christmas,
with my mom, brothers and sisters and I seated around the table,
decorating the "Christmas cookies."

photo courtesy of

I still make them every Christmas, 
but I have updated the recipe a little
because the basic sugar cookie recipe allows for a lot of creativity and variation.
Join me again tomorrow
and see how I updated my family's tradition.
I'll share the recipe then, too.

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