Glistening sugar and colored icing, red and green sprinkles and silver dragees, cutters in the shape of bells, bows, reindeer, and toys – by the middle of the 20th century, the decorated cut-out cookie had become the holiday pastry . . . The cookie cutter was born in America, the invention of Pennsylvania Dutch tinsmiths who devised them as an affordable alternative to expensive, hand-carved cookie molds. With the first crude star or Santa, the American style Christmas cookie was born. It’s a Wonderful Christmas, Susan Waggoner, 2004
On a previous post, Leah reminisced about her mother baking rolled sugar cookies for Christmas. She said the cookie cutters her mother used were handmade by her father out of tin cans. How special!
Back in the day, one of our December Saturdays was devoted to baking cookies. My mother and sister joined forces to make traditional Christmas cookies – spritz, shortbread, and rolled cookies. Mother mixed and baked while Nina decorated and frosted. The cookies were beautifully done. Red candied cherries made holly berries while green candied pineapple was sliced for leaves. I always loved the rolled cookies best, though Mother’s recipe was rather delicate for my taste. “Couldn’t we try a different recipe,” I remember asking her, and I don’t think she appreciated it. However, in reviewing her recipe box, I notice a lot of recipes for rolled sugar cookies and wonder if she was entirely satisfied.
When my children were young, I rolled and frosted both sugar and gingerbread cookies and they were allowed to frost them. No piping at our house! Slap that frosting on the cookie, decorate with red hots or squashed mini marshmallows, and there you have it! Delicate is just not my style! I never found my ideal sugar cookie recipe, and this year I tried yet another -- “McCormick's Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies,” which was featured in an advertisement. The spice is cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter.
We had a skiff of snow last night which made our world almost white. And it's cold -- I don’t think it warmed much above 25 today. After lunch, Nellie invited Mike to take her hunting, so out they went for a couple of hours. The time seemed right for baking the cookie dough I had mixed. I don’t know what Hallie will think, but Mike likes them and I’m pretty sure Nick will, too.
Ms. Waggoner, quoted above, states that “throughout the 1950s and 1960s, new varieties [of Christmas cookies] were added at a staggering clip, and the annual holiday cookie section became a major feature in magazines . . .” Yes, I have certainly noticed the plethora of holiday cookie recipes and yet, just what is it that makes a cookie a holiday cookie if it isn't traditional? One magazine feature this year suggested no-bake cookies to be made Christmas Eve. That just didn't appeal to me. I know how to make Rice Krispie treats if I need them.
Look what I found today – just after I said I didn’t think I would find more treasures. It’s my dad’s childhood postcard album. Talk about a much-loved book! Much loved and much worn. It holds many postcards commemorating many special occasions. KW