November 29, 2014

Christmas Baking Traditions and Recipe for Cutout Cookies by Jennifer of The Relentless Reader

When I was a little girl one of the things I looked most forward to at this time of year was the annual Christmas baking session. Over Thanksgiving break the ladies in the family would gather to bake, make, and create all of the sweet delicacies we would consume over the holiday season. 

I grew up in woods of Northern Wisconsin in the 1980s. Over Thanksgiving break the menfolk would be in the woods slaying the deer that would keep the family in meat for the coming months. The children weren't allowed to play outside that week lest a stray bullet would come our way. The women killed two birds with one stone during these baking marathons. The holiday treats would be made and the children would be kept busy stirring dough and/or sprinkling colored sugar on cookies. 

There were no baking shortcuts in my family. I didn't know that refrigerated
dough existed. I thought store bought cookies were a myth. Snobby? Maybe. Delicious? YES. We dipped hundreds of mint bonbons in melted dark chocolate, we made scads of bars, we baked dozens of cookies. We spritzed and sprinkled and drizzled. We made sure that the sugar high would last all December long. 

My all time favorite treat to make and eat were cutout cookies. They were called Ella's Cutout Cookies according to the recipe card that everyone in my family possesses. I don't know who Ella was, but she obviously had some baking chops because these babies are scrumptious

Ella's Cutout Cookies
(I always double this recipe)

1 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1.5 teaspoon almond extract (The key to the awesomeness of these cookies, in my opinion) 
2.5 cups flour

Mix softened butter with egg. Add rest of ingredients and blend. Chill dough for one hour. Roll out with rolling pin, cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool. Frost and decorate. 

These were my favorite because they tasted like heaven and they were so fun to decorate. When I had kids of my own we continued the tradition. In my lifetime I've baked, frosted, and decorated more of these cookies than I can count. I can't wait to do it again.

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