Hey all, I promised to post my holiday cookies and I know they aren't much use to you now but at least you will have this reference if you want to plan ahead for next year! I made a few different kinds. I made gingerbread cookies for Matt's boss (who is a judge...that's why they are wearing robes) and sugar cookies for everyone else!
Let me back up and tell you a little Christmas story. I was unfortunately scheduled to work on Christmas Eve and was very upset at the thought of not being able to be with my family during that time. I found two lovely ladies to cover my shift so that I could be with my family. I dubbed them my Christmas Angels, and made them cookies for being so sweet to offer to do it. That is what Christmas is really about to me-- being with your family, and doing kind things for others when you know it will mean a lot to them.
Now that you have a little background, I'll show you all the cookies and you can keep them as a reference for next Christmas.
First things first: I recommend that you start off with your kitchen as non-cluttered and clean as possible, because after baking a billion cookies, it certainly won't look like that for long and at least you will have started from a better position. Have everything you need ready to go: cutters, rolling pin, plastic wrap etc.
For the gingerbread cookies, I decided to try out the Classic Gingerbread Mix from Williams-Sonoma. As a disclaimer, I will tell you up front that I work there, but in all honesty I thought these turned out fantastic and the dough was super easy to work with.
First you just mix the ingredients together until you have your dough:
Then you roll the dough into two separate balls and flatten them into thick disks, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Next, you roll out your dough and cut out your shapes:
I recommend putting flour on the edges of your cookie cutters to make it easier to get the dough off of them. You could keep a small amount of flour on a small dish, or you could be like me and just use whatever is left on the counter.
Next step is to bake the cookies. I, and many cookie experts, recommend placing your cookies on the baking sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes before baking, so that the cookies hold their shape better during baking.
After baking the cookies for the directed amount of time, allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack before attempting to decorate.
The first step to decorating, at least for me, is to outline the shape in Royal Icing. You can either make it at home using any recipe you find on the internet (it's really easy to make) or you can buy things like Decorating Pens.
I pretty much picked up most of my decorating tips from Bake at 350
, as Bridget is a total genius in showing the easiest way to decorate cookies. Plus hers are to die for (way better than mine) so I suggest if you want some serious cookie tips, you head over there. Some other baking goddesses are Sweetapolita
, One Tough Cookie
, and Sweet Sugarbelle
, so be sure to check them out as well!
This is the basic concept of outlining:
Once your outline is dry, you can flood the rest of the cookie with royal icing. The key to this step is consistency and I would be lying if I told you this was a breeze. I totally botched this on more than a few cookies, but hey, that's what learning is all about right? Ok that's what I thought :)
These are the cookies I did for Matt's boss (the judge). I made Matt an elf because I thought it was just too precious to pass up. Obviously not perfect...slightly messy...but they dried and the judge loved 'em!
My most important suggestion: when you are decorating cookies-- have fun and try not to stress out too much. These works of art will be eaten, so they don't have to be perfect, and it's easier to improve the more times you do it. Here are some more cookies from the gingerbread batch:
Now let's move on to the sugar cookies. I have been eyeing Sweetapolita's perfect sugar cookie recipe
for ages and finally had a chance to try them out. The totally live up to the hype, and title of "perfect" so definitely make them. ASAP.
Isn't her blog cute? She's just fabulous
Some things you need: vanilla and lemon extract
Below are some photos I took along the way... the directions are on her site, so I will not write them all out again, plus then you can peruse her site for other tasty treats!
Making royal icing
These are the Christmas Angels I made for my Christmas Angels! I simply wrapped them in cellophane and a ribbon and put them in a festive box.
I also made some painter's palette cookies inspired by these beautiful ones
from Sweetapolita for my boyfriend's sister Juli. I have mentioned her before here
. Juli is a fabulous artist, and is one of the most creative people I know. Some of her paintings include, (clockwise from top left) "Guitar Woman", "A 'trip' in the Park", "Flowers in my Head", "I <3 Strawberries" :
So to celebrate Juli's artistic side, I made her these:
They didn't turn out quite as nicely as Sweetapolita's due to time constraints but she loved them all the same! Plus she gave me this amazingly cute necklace for Christmas:
So there you have it, tons and tons of cookies for the holidays. But as for me, I'm definitely sticking with my plan to try to lose some more weight, especially since I have a great motivation that I'll talk more about in my next post! That's all for now!