Making and decorating cookies is a Christmas tradition that I hold dear. As long as I can remember we have made gingerbread men together and decorated them elaborately. Some years, we mixed it up and added in some sugar cookies too, but gingerbread was our standard.
My mom and I were the core duo of bakers, year after year, though we often invited others to join us. Here you can see a year when our dear friends, the Keeners, joined us.
Cookie baking is, like the best Christmas traditions, something which brings us together to spend time talking, laughing, and relaxing. That is why, when I was baking this year’s gingerbread yesterday, that smell of the cookies in the oven filled me with a deep warmth and flood of memory – so many happy times with family and friends are tied to that aroma.
These gingerbread are a great family cookie because they’re not too spicy and if you bake them at the shorter end of the baking time, they’re soft not crunchy.
When you’re heating the wet ingredients (photo 1), just cook them until everything melds togethers, no longer (2). When you add them to the dry ingredients, it’ll come together into a slightly wet dough (3). Then the egg will make it pretty wet and shiny (4). The recipe says to refrigerate 2 hours. This is important as the dough is too sticky to work with when just made.
When rolling it out, be sure to keep everything well floured to prevent sticking. You might also drop your cookie cutters in flour. I scoop out a ball of dough then stick the rest in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Whatever is left from your first roll out, add it to a bit of fresh dough and roll it out again. Keep doing this until you’ve used up all the dough.
I like to bake mine until they’re just starting to crisp so they’re not too crunchy. If you like a crunchier cookie, go the full baking time (10 minutes).
Let them cool completely on a rack then decorate. Store them in the fridge in a sealed container.
Growing up, we made so many that we couldn’t fit them in the fridge. We would fill a huge old roasting pan and leave them in the uninsulated garage, where it was near freezing. Everyone would sneak out to the garage on a regular schedule to slip a cookie or two… another part of the cookie tradition.
My stepsons don’t get into the baking tradition but they do like to decorate. Tonight we will go to our neighbor Rita‘s for an evening of decorating – a new twist on my family’s tradition. I’ll share some photos of that part too.
What’s your most treasured Christmas recipe?