Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Countdown to Christmas 7 days

I made cookies yesterday, and today, and tomorrow. Not that I am making scores of cookies for days on end, I am making ONE kind of cookie that takes three days to complete.

When I was a kid there was one cookbook that held my attention over all others, the Betty Crocker Cookie Book. SO popular was this book, that today it shows the wear.

We would pour over this book for months. Make this one! No, this one looks better! Ooooo, look at these pictures! This one has raisins, gross.

This was the book all cookies came from in our house. I am the lucky archivist that stole this away before my siblings could ask for it. Inside, next to the popular recipes, in my mother's scrawling handwriting is her seal of approval "good":


The double measurements, or even the triple measurements are writing in pencil for all eternity.

And then there are two Scottish shortbread recipes and we could never remember which one was the good one and which one was the bad one. After the last time of putting all that energy into making a cookie that was NOT the one we wanted, I took matters into my own hands and wrote my own note for future generations:

It was with great care that I got out the tattered cookie book and rifled my way through to the sugar cookie recipes. I selected "Mary's Sugar Cookies" as they were the only one that didn't require I use shortening. I like my butter.

I mixed up the dough on Saturday and then refrigerated it overnight. The secret of cookie cutter cookies is COLD. You need a cold kitchen, a cold workspace, cold dough and cold utensils. I live in LA. Even when it is "cold" it's warm in my house (I'm wearing flip flops for goodness sake!) The dough was shilled overnight, and I placed my rolling pin and my cookie cutters in the freezer.

I rolled out the dough in small batches as fast as I could. At the end of rolling, I placed my rolling pin back in the freezer. Same with the cutters. Use them, then back in the freezer. Some of the cookie cutters are detailed and hard to get the dough out of. At Lyle's suggestion I lightly sprayed the cookie cutter with some cooking oil. It worked!

From cut out and ready for the oven:

To all baked and cooling:

Tomorrow, the horror.... I'll be icing and decorating them!

6 comments:

Julie said...

OMG - Mom has a similar Betty Crocker cookbook and I remember making those cookies (even wonder who Mary was?). I thought it sucked because they took so long with that dough in the fridge just waiting for me to sneak little pieces. Mom could always tell. I recently used that cookbook at mom's when I was at her house and craving coffee cake. It is sometimes fun to randomly page through it and see what recipies still require lard or some bizzare ingredient no one has ever heard of!

Carol said...

Yes you are so right. Mary's sugar cookies are the best. I have written in pencil too. What Julie didn't say is that mine is almost falling apart and has so many stains on the pages I can hardly read it. Any cookbook that shows wear makes it a GREAT COOKBOOK.

Jim said...

You probably can't tell, but that cookie cookbook is torn up. All the good pages are stained and the front cover has come off. I looked into getting a new one, but then all the notes would be gone. So I just keep this one as is.

Will J said...

Ahh, the joys of trying to bake in southern California during a Christmas Santa Ana. Brings back memories.

PS That takes real nerve to steal your mother's cookbook from her own house while she is still alive. Of course, it does have the advantage that you can ask her any questions about the notes, but still...

Todd said...

My mother has the same cookie cookbook and half the pages are falling out. I think she keeps the whole thing together with a big rubber band.
I remember decorating the sugar cookies every Christmas and eating those little silver decorative balls that tasted like tin. Im sure they weren't good for us, but then what was?

Jim said...

Didn't the publishers know how much use that book was going to get? Everyone's copy is falling apart!