Rather than list my favorite Christmas cookies for Carole's ToT, I'm going to take you on a little walk down memory lane.
My Mom loved to bake and she was quite proficient with doughy things. Her cinnamon rolls were beyond compare. Oh my, how I loved the yeasty, sugary, nutty (with raisins, too) gooey goodness of them. She made wonderful pies (all year round with every kind of filling you can imagine), but my favorite (her favorite, too) was lemon meringue.
Halloween and Christmas were the two holidays that sent her into a kitchen frenzy of baking and candy making. She made popcorn balls (the best ever), divinity (pink and white/with nuts), fudge, with and without nuts, and her pièce de résistance, peanut brittle!! THE best ever peanut brittle (with coconut too). To make thin and crunchy pieces she would pour it hot off the stove onto a marble slab and pull it with her fingers. The little shards would melt in your mouth! It was just THE BEST EVER.
The one thing we were allowed to help her make were her highly successful and totally sought out be all the neighborhood kids, was her sugar cookies. We would carefully measure the ingredients and make sure we did every step correctly. The trick to remember how many cups of flour we'd used (it's hard to keep track of 7 cups of flour), was for everyone in the room count out-loud as each cup went in. The cookie dough had to be refrigerated for hours, so we often made it the night before. (The we in this story is my Mom, me and one or two of my sisters.)
Baking day meant hours of rolling out the dough to just the right thickness, cutting the dough with various cookie cutters, and carefully putting the shapes on the baking trays. The art to this cookie is not to over bake and Mom could tell, just by smell, the second they were cooked to perfection. We would then carefully lift the cookies from the trays and put them onto cooking racks.
Once cooled we could decorate. Mom made an icing with confectioners sugar and from there she would let us decorate as we liked. We could use gumdrops, red hots, sugar sprinkles, licorice, or tiny silver balls. Mom would also pipe the edges of a few cookies and everything looked festive and wonderful! I wish I had pictures to share, but that is not to be. However, I do have her recipe, a recipe made to be easily rolled, as well as fluffy light and soft creations.
Mom's Best Sugar Cookies
1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, room temp.
3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temp.
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
7 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings, mixing well.
In a separate bowl mix baking powder and salt with flour, then scoop flour mixture into mixing bowl with wet ingredients one cup at a time. Do not over mix. Finish by hand if needed.
Chill dough a minimum of 2 hours before using. On a floured surface roll chilled dough to a ¼” thickness and cut immediately with cookie cutters.
Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look under-baked when actually done. Do not let them brown on the edges.
When I was a kid we didn't have parchment paper, but you might find it keeps the cookie from sticking. Also, if you don't want to ice the cookies, you can sprinkle them with a little sugar before baking. This cookie is best with a glaze or with icing as it needs the added sweetness. Enjoy!