Last Friday afternoon, I got this text from my 16-year-old:
Mom, can I have friends over after school to make Christmas cookies?
Now that is a big request. Making cut-out Christmas cookies is a big undertaking…but how could I say no? My 16-year-old wanted to bring his friends home to make cookies! I immediately adjusted my plans for the late afternoon and early evening and texted back:
Sure. Who and how many?
He responded: 6 including me.
I immediately went to work. I’ve been baking Christmas cookies with my kids for 27 years. Through many disappointments and trials and errors, I’ve finally learned how to do it well at every stage of mothering. Let me share my secrets with you!
Here’s the recipe I use:
Christmas Cut-Out Cookies
1/2 c. Crisco
1 stick butter
1 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3-1/2 c. of flour (I usually add more until the dough isn’t sticky)
Chill 1 hour. Roll 1/4″ thick with rolling pin. (I disinfect my kitchen island and roll the dough right on the counter top. Make sure and flour the surface you are rolling on and flour the rolling pin–just rub flour all over it–so the dough doesn’t stick)
Use cookie cutters for shapes. Bake 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes until shine is off (do not overcook–you don’t want them brown on the edges).
2 sticks butter (softened–I leave the sticks on the counter for about 30 min)
4-1/2 – 4-3/4 c. powdered sugar (I usually add more until it peaks when you mix it)
1/2 c. milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla or peppermint (we use peppermint!)
Beat butter to fluffy and add 1/2 of the powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla and rest of sugar. Divide into smaller bowls and add food coloring as desired (we usually do red, green, blue, yellow, and white)
Note: Cookies can be frozen either before icing or after icing, if you want to decorate or eat at a later time.
Here’s how to successfully make cut-out cookies with kids of any age:
1) Day 1: You make and chill dough while they are napping.
2) Day 2: You cut out and bake cookies while they are napping.
3) Day 2 or 3: You make icing and ice the cookies
4) Your preschooler can put sprinkles on while the icing is still wet.
5) Enjoy eating, giving away, and sharing the yummy cookies you made!
Grade School Years
1) You make and chill the dough
2) You roll out the dough and let them use the cookie cutters to cut out the shapes
3) You put them in the oven.
4) Once all the cookies are cool, the kids and you can ice them and decorate with sprinkles. (this can also be done on the next day if cookies are stored in an airtight container.)
Note: Grade school years is a great time to teach your kids to make cookies from scratch. Since Christmas cookies have five parts to them–1) making the recipe 2) chilling the dough 3) rolling the dough and cutting the cookies 4) baking the cookies 5) decorating the cookies—I find this isn’t the best time to teach them to bake. The process is too long and they are impatient to get to the cutting out and decorating. Teach them to follow a recipe some other time with something like Chocolate Chip cookies or Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that you just mix up, bake, and eat!
Junior High/High School Years
1) You make and chill the dough (if you have a teen that wants to do that, let them!)
2) You show them how to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies, then let them do it themselves!
3) You help with the baking.
4) Enjoy decorating the cookies with your family!
Note: I had a double recipe of the dough made and chilled by the time the six teens arrived at my house last Friday. They jumped in with rolling out the dough and cutting out cookies, I oversaw the baking, and they decorated and it was still a 3 hour process! That’s why I’m a believer in already having the dough made and chilled no matter the age of the kids!
Here are pictures from our spontaneous Christmas Cookie party on Friday!
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