The Icing on the Christmas!

Okay, I know I’ve posted about these before. . . but just in case you need a little inspiration to give My Mom’s fool-proof sugar cookies a chance, I am re-sharing the recipe, and some of the fun I had decorating this year!

I love decorating!

Mom’s Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1 and 1/2 C. butter, softened
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter (or, in dire straits, the top of a drinking glass!). Place cookies 1 inch apart on lightly greased cookie sheets.
Bake 6-8 minutes in preheated. Tip: It’s always better to take them out before you think they’re totally done. Cool completely before frosting!
cookies
Then eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next several days. . . It’s good stuff, trust me.
cookies are delicious

Merry Baking!

decorate lots of christmas trees this year!!!
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Advent-ures: Going Nutty!

So, What Do Nativities Have  To Do With Nut Cookies?

Bear with me, they connect in my mind (somehow ) . . .

Not everyone knows that the French nativity scene, or La Crèche de Noël, is more than just your average Mary-Joseph-BabyJesus-Shepherds-Angel deal. Most American people (like me) grew up with your average nativity scene, which has about nine people and assorted barnyard animals.

traditional nativity

This nativity-tradition-thing all started back in the 6th century  as a way to help people see what the actual birth of Jesus looked like (or at least, what they thought it looked like). THEN, during the French Revolution, outdoor  Nativity Scenes were outlawed, and the innovative French people started carving their own figures, but they took on a kind of nutty spin (if you will). Instead of just the traditional figurines, all sorts of funky people started showing up in in the mix! The Cow and The Donkey got promoted in importance and started being seen as watch-guards for the Baby Jesus! On top of that, fishermen and town criers, musicians and bakers, lantern-bearers and lavender-farmers . . . you name a small-town role and it pretty much cropped up in the Crèche de Noël.

des santons

Now, how this relates to my nut-cookies. WELL . . . 

You know how the purest intentions of celebrating a season with an observed tradition (like having a nativity scene) sometimes get a little bit of the individualized flavor of the celebrants mixed in? Wellllll, my family mixed various traditions in with our more reason-for-the-season traditions, and one of those lovely not-biblical-but-still-enjoyable advent traditions is Cookie Baking!

Today, I tackled two delicious Christmas Cookie Treats, both acceptably nutty!!

First Up: Christmas Crescents

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These are pretty straightforward – I barely follow the directions anymore, because all you really need to do is mix it all together play-dough style (aka, wash you hands and then smash it all up!). Then you roll it into crescents, or that’s what my family did, you can also do other shapes if you want!

the line-up!

Once they’re in the oven, you have only one last step to prepare for: The Powder. You pour a slew of confectioner’s sugar into a bowl and get ready to roll the still-hot cookies in it to complete the process!

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Something magical happens when the hot cookies get all mixed up in powdered sugar – It’s like a kind of frosting forms from the melted sugar, and (in addition to being highly powdery) there is a little sweet layer that winds up being on the cookies! So tasty!

Ready!

Second: Pecan Pie Bars

Simple and Scrumptious

This recipe is new to me – a pass-along from a coworker who was kind enough to share after I ate about 5 of the ones he brought in to school! The first step is making the “crust”, which is a lot like a sweet shortbread.

How firm a foundation. . .

Then, while that is baking, you throw together the other filling-like ingredients in a bowl (in no particular order!). It’s quick going, so you might actually wait until the base-layer is almost done!

I'm obsessed with Pecans.

When you’re ready, you pour the “filling” onto the “crust” and bake for another 20. Then you have to let them cool a little before you cut them, but not totally, or they “set” a little too much! The result is unbelievably delicious.

Gah, so darn delicious!

Seriously, let’s take another look at this:

dang!

(I’m sold. But then, I love pecans like it’s my job.)

I hope you make these cookies and enjoy them as much as my roommates and I have been. . . Don’t lose sight of the real reason behind all the preparations for Christmas (aka the coming of Jesus to earth!), but all the same, I think it’s fitting to appreciate the sweet traditions that have cropped up over the years! They are our way of setting this season apart as particularly wondrous!