As a child, cookie making was just as magical as Christmas Day. On a Saturday morning in December I’d wake up to a refrigerator full of cookie dough ready to be rolled out, cut out and baked.
Half the dough was sugar cookie, the other half chocolate chip. My family would ice the sugar cookies with the four colors that came in the food dye kit from the grocery store, and as we did that we began eating the still-warm chocolate chip ones.
After finishing our Christmas cookies my brothers and I would go off to play before we crashed from a sugar-induced coma. The next day all the dishes would be cleaned, all the cookies would be stored in Tupperware. More magic for 5-year-old me.
This year “Cookie Day” is this weekend, and I’m reminded how baking Christmas cookies throughout my childhood taught both me and my brothers the importance of family traditions, especially around the holidays because of the bond it created between us. If we don’t get to cut out a reindeer from sugar cookie dough at least once during December, we complain that it doesn’t feel like Christmas.
Our chocolate chip cookie recipe comes from the back of the Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip bag, with one addition of our own. We add more flour to the recipe. How much more? Call it an eye-ball-I-think-that’s-enough amount. Without the extra flour the cookies are only good for a day before they get too hard, but with the flour the cookies come out softer and fluffier (and tastier).
We have a gingerbread man cookie sheet that somewhere along the road we started using for chocolate chip cookies. One of the most well-known sounds of our cookie baking day, other than the timer on the oven, is the sound of metal banging against the counter. It’s the sound of my mom trying to get the gingerbread men-shaped chocolate chip cookies out of the pan.
My family swears by chocolate chip cookies tasting better in a gingerbread man shape.
But that magic I was talking about only lasted through the ’90s. Once we kids were old enough to intentionally avert our eyes from the growing pile of flour-dusted dishes in the sink, my mom decided it was time to share the magic.
And by share the magic I mean she threatened never to make Christmas cookies again unless someone helped her make the dough the night before and wash the dishes after. To this day my brothers have always managed to get out of both of those responsibilities.
With our Christmas Cookie Day firmly ingrained in my family’s head as a necessary day to take part in every year, we’ve steadily grown in number of attendees. From an immediate family of six to one of 17, we end up literally having a refrigerator full of cookie dough.
This weekend we’ll wrap all the tables in parchment paper, throw flour on everything and hope the kids don’t make too big of a mess (and watch closely for any nose pickers). We’ll stress ourselves out and swear that next year there won’t be a Cookie Day when everyone is being more annoying than usual.
We’ll also laugh, throw flour on each other and make fun of someone’s poorly iced cookie.
But we won’t actually regret Cookie Day, even if it’s because we get to have our gingerbread man chocolate chip cookies.
Below is the recipe we use to make sugar cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
– Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixer bowl beat butter and shortening until butter is softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture and beat until well mixed. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill at least three hours or until easy to handle.
– Roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven for seven to eight minutes or until done. Remove and cool.
Recipe for icing (optional):
1 lb. (3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
approx. 1/4 cup water
– Mix all ingredients well (except food dye). Divide icing into how many colors you have. Add a few drops of dye into each icing.