If you are asking how to make Christmas cookies, the answer may be a little more complex than you might have imagined. When I started baking these holiday cookies, I did not have many recipes available so I had to go with our traditional “hand me down” recipes. Although these are still some of my favorites, the number was limited to about 15 so I did not have a whole lot of choices.
Today, I would guess that my cookie recipes are numbering in the “thousands”. I simply use my old traditional recipes each year and add a few new ones. Sometimes I will drop some I do one year and add different ones the next year. If you are just starting out and want to know how to make Christmas cookies, I must tell you that the biggest problem you will have today is deciding which ones to make. Choosing recipes from thousands is “mind boggling”.
First ask yourself, “How many cookie recipes do I want to make?” The next important quest to ask is how much time you can spare in baking cookies. This is important because many recipes are very time consuming especially when you are learning how to make Christmas cookies. My daughter, Kelly and I just finished making about 200 cut out sugar cookies of various recipes; believe me that was very time consuming. Although these are time consuming, if you have children, I think it is important to make at least a few.
NOTE: My family’s ancestors along with many, many other families settled in Pennsylvania after coming to the United States from Germany in the 1700’s. Along with them they brought their traditional cookie recipes. Pennsylvania has adopted one of these cookies as their official state cookie; Nazareth sugar cookies.
Next ask yourself what flavors you like. For me, I like to have a variety of flavors. Even if you do not make a lot of different ones, try to mix the flavors to please everyone. I also like to mix plain cookies and bar cookies. Bar cookies are really nice if you have limited time; you can bake these all at once rather than baking a lot of small cookies.
When deciding how to make Christmas cookies, it is a good idea to select your recipes and make a list of them. Estimate the time needed to prepare and bake all your cookies and write it down on your list. When I lived in Ohio around all my large family and friends, I started baking cookies the day after Thanksgiving and planned to be finished by December 20. This gave me a few days to make up trays and distribute to everyone.
A list also helps you to figure how many ingredients you need to have; flour, sugar and butter are usually your biggest purchase. You need to go through all your recipes and list the ingredients. Some recipes require extras like chocolate and jams. These two items alone can run into many extra dollars if baking many.
You will also need to make sure you have baking pans. I found since I learned how to make Christmas cookies that parchment paper is a necessity. I always line my pans with parchment; after baking I simply slip the paper off the pan onto my table. For this many cookies, I do not bother with a cooling rack; my table works best. I cover the table top with heavy clean white towel and slide the parchment paper from the tray to the table. After the cookies cool, if they can be stacked, I stack them on a clean tray. If they cannot be stacked I still move them to a large tray and place them in another part of the kitchen out of my way.
There have been a few years when I could not spare much time for cookie baking. If you want to know how to make Christmas cookies and this is your problem you might try this. I picked several of my favorite recipes out trying to keep it simple without too many steps. These might be ones which need filling and adding a second layer or ones which need icing. After selecting my recipes, I mixed up the dough for each placing each one in zip lock bags. I placed all the dough in the refrigerator and then I pick a day to do all the baking. This worked very well for me when I was short on time.
NOTE: If you only have 1 cookie sheet for baking, line it with parchment paper. While one batch is baking, load a second sheet of parchment paper with cookie dough to have another batch ready to bake. Cleaning is also easier.
In a large mixing bowl combine and beat butter, cream cheese and sugar.
Add egg, vanilla and almond to butter mixture and blend well.
Mix in flour and baking powder until well blended.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees; line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut designs with cookie cutters.
Bake about 10 minutes or until edges start to brown; remove from trays and cool completely.
Frost cold cookies with almond frosting and decorate as desired.
In a small bowl beat 2 CUPS POWDERED SUGAR, 2 TABLESPOONS SOFTENED BUTTER and ¼ TEASPOON ALMOND EXTRACT until smooth. For piping consistency beat in 4 or 5 teaspoons of milk; for spreading add a little more. Tint with food coloring if desired.
Combine and mix thoroughly in a medium bow the sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs.
Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; blend thoroughly.
Cover and chill dough at least 1 hour.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees; line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough about ¼ inch thick on lightly floured surface.
Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters; place on prepared baking sheets.
Cool completely; sprinkle with sugar or frost if desired.
Bake about 10 minutes until very lightly browned.
Makes about 48 three inch cookies.
If you are learning how to make Christmas cookies, this recipe is firmer and makes great cookies for hanging on the tree. I make the cookies larger than normal and I do cover them with plastic wrap to keep them clean.
Place flour and salt in a medium size bowl; stir to mix.
Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg, vanilla and almond extract; gradually add in flour mixture.
Beat on low speed until well blended scraping down sides of bowl.
Form dough into 2 disks; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
PREHEAT OVEN to 350F degrees; line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap dough; roll dough on lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thickness.
Cut to desired shapes with cutters; place on prepared trays.
Using a STRAW, SHARP KNIFE or NEW PENCIL press a hole near the top to insert string to hang.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are golden brown; move cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
Frost and decorate as desired.
Combine and mix until smooth (Add extra liquid if needed); tint with food coloring if desired.
Spoon icing into decorating bag or into plastic food storage bag cutting off a tiny corner.
This recipe is easy by purchasing the cookie dough and you DO NOT need cookie cutters; simply cut in triangle shapes and decorate.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees; line baking trays with parchment paper.
Using half of dough at a time roll on lightly floured surface ¼ inch thickness.
Cut dough in long strips about 2 ¼ inch wide; cut each strip into TRIANGLES.
Place each triangle on prepared baking sheets; bake 6 to 8 minutes until lightly browned.
Move cookies to rack to cool completely.
Spread frosting over cookies; Press 2 pretzels on 2 corners (or points) to resemble deer antlers.
Press a red cinnamon candy at the other corner (or point) for the nose.
Press 2 chocolate chips or raisins for the eyes; let stand until icing firms.
If you are short on time when learning how to make Christmas cookies, this no bake recipe is easy and delicious.
Heat butter in saucepan until melted; add marshmallows and stir until melted and mixture is smooth.
Remove mixture from heat and stir in green food coloring and vanilla.
Fold in cereal until evenly coated.
Butter hand and quickly shape warm mixture into tree shapes on wax paper; about 2/3 cup each one.
Press pieces of licorice on for garland; press gumdrops on for ornaments.
Refrigerate to firm up.
NOTE: This recipe is easy to double or triple.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until blended; add almond paste and egg and beat until light.
Blend in flour until a smooth dough; cover and refrigerate until firm.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 8 EQUAL PARTS.
Divide each of the 8 pieces in half MAKING 16; roll each of SIXTEEN PIECES piece into a 12 inch rope.
Cut each rope into 2 INCH LENGTHS (6); place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown; remove to rack to cool.
Melt chocolate chips in small bowl over hot water; stir until smooth.
Dip both ends of cookies about ½ inch into melted chocolate; dip chocolate ends into pistachios.
Place cookies on wax paper and let stand until chocolate sets.