Yeah, I know. We're well past Christmas at this point. But I didn't get to celebrate Christmas with my Mom until after New Year's. I ended up making 45 Christmas cookies (would have been 48 but I lost two to the floor and one to taste testing). I made so many because I thought my nephew and both my brothers were coming as well, but my nephew ended up sick so he and his dad had to stay home. I'm still working on getting rid of all of these!
Christmas cookies were always a big deal in Mom's family. My great-grandmother would make up at least one hundred every year and we'd get all the cousins together to decorate them. Grandma B was the kind of person who would spend 15-20 minutes decorating one cookie, just to get all the sprinkles in their proper places. I kinda take after her with the decorating, but I also respect my mom's approach of spending as much time decorating a cookie as it takes to eat the cookie. So I opted to give myself some practice frosting with decorating bags. It was quite the learning experience.
Naturally, the first step was mixing up the batter for the cookies. Grandma B always made sugar cookies, but I decided to make up vanilla cookies as I had all the ingredients.
Then comes the rolling out of the dough. I remembered (from painful experience) that I needed to flour the rolling mat before I put the dough down. I didn't put all the dough down at once and went through it in batches instead.
I've been asked before how I know what the proper thickness is for the cookie dough. The answer is, I don't. It's something that depends on the recipe, the desired crispiness of the cookies, etc. I tested some different sized layers before settling on one.
Before next Christmas, I will need to get some more cookie cutters. These were the only ones I could find that produced the cookie sizes I wanted.
The cookies do look a little flat going in, but after 8 minutes in the oven they come out looking pretty good.
At this point I was still debating whether or not to frost the cookies so I had Fluxxdog taste test one and he said that it was just okay and could use a little something more.
Again, I deviate from Grandma B's tradition. She always made cream cheese frosting for the cookies, but I didn't have enough cream cheese, nor does the frosting lend itself to decorating bags. So, instead, I made up a double batch of icing, split it in two, and added food coloring. Next year I may try for more colors, but for now I like the red and green.
In order to make sure I had enough icing for all of the cookies, and to try to minimize the mess, I went over the cookies once with the red icing. Then I went over them again with the green. I had initially skipped a few cookies, thinking some of them would be all red or all green, but I ended up with enough extra icing that I was able to go over the cookies again and get a good mix of both colors.
I'm actually somewhat energized by this experience and I'm looking forward to getting in more practice with the decorating bags and seeing if I can make frosting flowers and whatnot. If you'd like to see these attempts/experiments, please let me know.