Alright y'all, I tried! I did - and here I am up in my chair playing around with the blog.
I thought I'd repost this from last year - there's some great cookie baking info here.
I'm enjoying my blog break! The house is about decorated, we've a 6 inch blanket of snow on the ground, and Phyllis the banty hen is living in the house, with her cage bedecked for Christmas.
I ask you - does it get better?
Ray Coniff Singers.
Seeing old friends.
The wonder of Christ.
Thank you so much for all of your comments and emails.
You are all a wonderful gift to me.
Originally posted Dec. 8th 2009
Good Morning Blog Friends!
I'd like to talk about Christmas Cookies this morning.
I absolutely love to bake, so Christmas is well....like Christmas for me! It's a great excuse to have the flour flying and be in a sugar coma by the end of the afternoon.
So often I see Christmas cookies that are overbaked, misshapen, and a bit of a mystery.
Don't let this happen to you and your loved ones!
I thought I'd share some of my cookie baking secrets with you.
First things first.
Get yourself a nice cup of Christmas tea and pull your recipes out. Have some wonderful Christmas music playing.
Christmas baking is as much as reflecting on past memories as it is about making new memories.
Reading recipes that dear friends have given you.
Baking cookies from precious hand written recipes handed down from generation to generation.
Remembering the years you forgot to add the baking soda to a batch of cookies.
Remembering the year you dumped a whole pan of gingerbread men, fresh from the oven onto the kitchen floor.
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's I used to have a Prairie Christmas Open House and sell crafts and baked goods. I made up that little Cookie Cookbook and sold those. It brings back such wonderful memories every year when I bring it out.
Now that you know what you are going to bake, please make sure that you have all of your ingredients on hand before you begin!
One tip that might prove helpful for you, especially if you have a lot of baking to do, is to make all the dough one day, and then bake it the next. I do this often. That way, I have all the mess in the kitchen one day, and I'm not distracted by the oven timer going off, only to go back to the dough I'm making and wonder if I've already added the salt.
I just put all the dough in Ziploc bags, label them with the type of cookie it is, and the oven temperature it should be baked at.
The next day, I can bake away without all the mess.
This is THE biggest secret of my success:
It's Reynolds Parchment paper. I hope I can encourage you to use it. What I love about it is that I can have such a mass production of cookies going with it. I can have a sheet of cookies baking, and while it's baking, I can fill another sheet of paper (without a pan under it) with raw dough.
I pull the baked cookies out of the oven, slide the paper and all off of the hot sheet onto the island, and then immediately slip on the new sheet of paper with the raw dough. Absolutely no down time at all, or waiting for the pan to cool. Love it. I reuse the sheets over and over until they are so brittle they can't be used again. It keeps the sheets clean and the cookies never ever stick. Once you use it, you'll be lost without it.
A few more things that I do to insure my baking is a success is:
- ALWAYS preheat the oven for at least a half an hour.
- Make sure the oven temperature is correct, using an oven thermometer. Adjust your oven if necessary.
- Watch the cookies carefully, I usually remove them before they really LOOK done. Never brown your cookies.
- I only use SHINY pans. I abhor the dark pans, they always brown the cookies, and quickly.
- I only put ONE tray of cookies in at a time so that the oven has good air circulation.
- I only bake when I'm in a GOOD mood.
Let's talk about that last one for just a minute, shall we?
How often are you rushed and stressed during the holidays? As women, we usually bear the load of the holidays. Gift shopping, party planning, decorating and baking.
It's a lot.
I've found that when I'm baking when I feel frustrated, anything that can go wrong will.
Your cookies will end up looking like this:
The next thing you know, you'll be biting someone's head off.
You want happy cookies don't you?
Perhaps Aaron sums it all up here:
Do you have any idea how much we laugh on a daily basis?
(seeing this video again made me so sad for the boy child. The nerve of him going to public school!)
I'll share the recipe for my Gingerbread cookies at the end of the post.
Rolling cookies can sometimes be frustrating as well....it doesn't need to be.
I use a flour sack tea towel, well floured and I flour my hands and rolling pin. I used to use a sleeve on the rolling pin, but it left fabric marks on the gingerbread. Me no like.
Take your time. I make mine about 3/8" thick so that they are easy to handle, and hold up well for decorating and packaging.
I decorate them with a simple powdered sugar and milk frosting.
Mini M&M's are fun.
I like tucking them in all around the house. They seem to disappear one by one though....
Here's the recipe! I hope you'll try them, and perhaps they can become a tradition with you, as they are here. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.
(makes 20-24 small, or 14 large cookies)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Cream the shortening and the sugar. Blend in the molasses, water, flour, salt, soda and spices. Cover, or put in a Ziploc bag, and chill for 2 to 3 hours (or overnight!).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough 1/4" thick for small cookies, or 3/8" for larger cookies. Cut with cookie cutter and place on ungreased (or parchment lined) cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (DO NOT BROWN). Remove from pans immediately.
Cool thoroughly and decorate.