Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Comfort and Joy

I grew up in a food equals love kind of family. My grandmother could offer comfort, affection, love, and healing just by putting a meal on the table. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the holiday season gave us all the excuse we needed to cook up a storm.

Though I have many favorite recipes, some of my favorite memories were of baking cookies with my mother and grandmother.

Okay, if I’m being honest, there was a little bit of perfectionism when it came to Christmas cookies. My grandmother used an old-fashioned cookie press to design her cookies. After they were baked there was still icing and chocolate dipping and sprinkling to be done. When I was very little, I was only allowed to watch as the finishing touches were put on the cookies. Finally being allowed to help was a big milestone for me.

Now, I’m passing down the Christmas cookie tradition to my own daughters. My mom is still part of the day we bake, but we’ve let go of a lot of our perfectionism. Sometimes the icing drips or a cookie comes out a little misshapen. But they taste just as good. I relish knowing my daughters will carry memories of our Christmas cookie baking for the rest of their lives.

Here’s one of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes:

Shiny Sugar Cookies

2 ½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup of butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg and extracts, beating until mixed.
  5. Gradually beat in dry ingredients.
  6. Divide dough into quarters and flatten into disks.
  7. Wrap dough and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough ¼ - inch thick.
  9. Cut into shapes with 3-inch cookie cutters.
  10. Place cookie cut outs on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  11. Bake 6-8 minutes and cool on wire rack.
  12. Decorate.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

You can decorate cookies however you like. We usually make some royal icing by combining confectioner’s sugar, a bit of vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of milk. You can adjust the amount of milk you add to get the desired thickness on the icing. Color with food coloring and then spread on cookies.

After that, sprinkles, chocolate chips, piped on icing—your decorations are up to you and your imagination!


And speaking of comfort and joy…my very sweet Christmas novella, Joyfully Yours, is on sale for only 99¢ for a few more days. It’s a great book to curl up with for a few hours by the lights of the Christmas tree!! 

Hope you and your families have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!
~ Amy Lamont

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