We’re all posted up, over here, enjoying the details of this long awaited favorite holiday, settling in for 11 days together with family. Lilly is cuter than ever before, understanding and partaking in all of the festivities and being Mommy’s special little helper.
We FINALLY got it together to go see Santa (look at him! he’s the real deal) and after weeks of talking about it, and forty minutes of intensive, “I’m going to tell Santa I want a Dora Mermaid Dolly!” while waiting in line, that little freaking pistol climbs up onto his lap and blurts out, “My Mommy wants a new cup because her coffee cup broke and my Mommy loves coffee. Oh, and she’s been good!” So good lord, clearly I must have freaked out a little too much about my stupid cup. Sorry Lill. Cup is a small deal.
Grace has been enchanted by the all of the magic of her very first Christmas. She takes in the sights and the noise and the watches us all with careful curiosity. It’s wonderful and exciting and so precious to see. While still quite small, sister is really growing up.
I raised the white flag this year on Christmas Cookies. Where I’d normally run myself into the ground staying up late and getting up early to make every kind of cookie imaginable, I decided to skip it all this year and just make cookies for Santa with my one and only Lilly. She wanted to decorate sugar cookies so I was totally cool with that. To be completely honest, there was no need for me to make a gazillion Christmas Cookies since my own Momma and my Aunt Lynda (who is my “other mother”) have the original recipes all baked and ready for when we get there on Christmas day.
While you are home enjoying your own family, I highly recommend making up a batch of these sugar cookies. They’re easy, delicious, and perfect for little hands to help decorate. Don’t give up on the dough! It may seem crumbly at first, but work and knead it with your hands and give it the full 30 minutes to set up in the fridge. It makes all the difference in the world! I don’t have room in my freezer to freeze the cut outs before they hit the oven so I pop them into the fridge for 10 minutes if I can. This just helps the cookies hold their shape and not spread.
My Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe
(adapted from Confetti Cakes, by Elisa Strauss)
2 1/3 plus 2 Tablespoons flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 room temperature egg
1. Mix together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
2. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg with an electric mixer.
3. Add dry ingredients in two batches until dough comes together.
4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead it with your hands until it can form a ball. Split the dough into four pieces and flatten each ball into a thick disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Take dough out of the fridge and roll it out, one ball at a time, onto a floured surface. You want the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. If you like soft, cake like cookies, your dough can be a little bit thicker. If you like crispier sugar cookies, get as close to 1/4 inch thick as you can. Mine always end up somewhere in the middle.
6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for ten minutes. I use air bake cookie sheets (non-stick) but if you are worried about cookies sticking, use parchment paper or a silpat.
7. Let the cookies COOL COMPLETELY before you try to get them off of the baking sheet.
My favorite kind of icing is the “recipe” that follows. While I love real royal icing and the beautiful way it can be used to decorate sugar cookies, I much prefer to eat the simple glaze I used on these cookies. It never gets rock hard which I love. This is how we’ve made them in my family forever. It’s super quick and easy, requires no bags or tips, and lends itself well to making a whole bunch of colors to play with.
Sugar Cookie Glaze
(for real, that’s it)
Shake some sugar into a bowl and using a tablespoon, slowly add water until you get your glaze a little bit thinner than the consistency of very soft butter. You are trying to get a glaze that is spreadable, but does NOT hold any sort of peak. Make sure it’s not too runny or it will run off the sides of your cookie which is bad. Glaze on cookie = good. Glaze on counter = bad. Add a drop or two of liquid food coloring to tint each bowl of glaze or use gel food coloring.
I made the designs on these mittens by dragging a toothpick through the wet icing. This is so much fun for kids.
The stars are frosted with basic yellow glaze but dipped in clear sugar crystals to make them look shimmery. I think this is my favorite way to decorate cookies. Can’t escape the sparkle!
The gingerbread men (which I had to fight Lilly to let me make) got candy eyeballs and dragee pearl buttons. I tried some with mini m&m’s and other candies but it just seemed to be too much for the little guys to handle.
Trees- standard, but so adorable! Lilly absolutely loved adding the candies to these trees. They are each her special little creation and while she loves showing them off, she loves eating them even more. She’s a total cookie monster.
Whip some up for new years, make snowflakes or just let your kids go crazy with any kinds of random cookie cutters that they like. You can never have too many cookies!
Last, but not least, I wanted to show you how our baking soda clay reindeer ornaments turned out. I was so excited about this dough because the cornstarch makes it SPARKLY and it is bright, bright white. They ended up cracking a tiny bit where Lilly made each thumbprint (so sad) but I’m still having Lilly give them to all of our family memebers as she worked so hard on them!
Click here for the dough recipe straight from the Arm and Hammer website. I’ve found that kneading the clay for a LONG TIME helps smooth it out and keeps the consistency really nice while you are playing with it.
Lilly made a thumbprint in each clay disc before they baked. After they baked she dipped her thumb in brown acrylic paint. We let that dry then I helped add sharpie antlers and the year. Lilly used a q-tip to make the eyes and Rudolph’s nose. So cute.
Merry Christmas to everyone! Enjoy the magic, have fun with your families and spend the last days of this wonderful year basking in the glow of a New Year soon to come.