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Paige had preschool homework this week: decorate a paper ornament for school and (with my help) write about a favorite holiday tradition in class. (Yes, she’s barely 4 … don’t get me started.) When I asked her what tradition she wanted to put on her index card, I already had in the back of my mind that I would suggest baking if she wasn’t sure. But I didn’t need to suggest anything. Paige immediately answered “Baking and decorating cookies.”
I was excited. No, make that elated.
Baking during the holiday season is something I’ve done every year since I was a teen. It’s a holiday tradition — a comforting thing that has been a constant year after year. When I had Will, my baking habits intensified. I love making dozens and dozens of cookies and sharing them with everyone. But this year, I’ve taken a new approach. Instead of exclusively making my own recipes for cookies from Deconstructed Peppermint Bark Cookies to Connecticut Spice Cookies, I used some premade dough too.
It’s out of character for me, but this simple step has been a little freeing in a way. See, the cookies I usually make are all drop cookies. I just don’t do rolled dough and whatnot. But the premade dough is a cinch to roll out and cut with cookie cutters — which opens up a whole new world of cookie making and decorating for us. And this year, I just had to do the cut-outs too.
When I recently read Shaina’s post on Food For My Family about baking gingerbread, I really wanted to try it too. I had to. Those cookies were just so cute. But the thought of making the dough and then learning how to do cut-outs was a little much.
Fortunately, premade dough is available. The kids and I have made cut-out cookies with both premade sugar cookie dough and gingerbread dough. The gingerbread stays truer to form when baking, not spreading much. The sugar cookies however spread a lot, but still mostly keep their shape — well, sort of.
The great thing about this is that the kids can help throughout the whole process. They are able to cut the cookies (mini cutters are our favorite), help me arrange them on the tray and then decorate them after I’ve frosted the cooled cookies with a simple icing recipe (below). It’s hard to tell which part they enjoy most — but I suspect it might be the decorating since I let them go crazy with sprinkles.
When Clever Girls and Tempur-Pedic asked me to write about holiday comforts decorating cookies was the first thing I thought of. It is a huge comfort, and a joy since these are things I can share with all our loved ones.
Now, wish us luck. They kids and I have a lot of baking to do this weekend. It’s the last weekend before Christmas, after all.
Easy Cookie Icing
yields about 1/2 cup
adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp water (you may need up to 1/2 tbsp extra)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Stir together the powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract until smooth, adding more water as needed (up to 1/2 tbsp more) to get the desired thick but smooth consistency. Transfer to a pastry bag, cut the corner and pipe as needed onto cookies.
Comfort is the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday gift list, so be sure to take advantage of Tempur-Pedic’s Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.