Its Christmas cookie time

As we do every year, I oversee the annual making of the Christmas cookies to be decorated, then hung on the tree. As I’ve explained in previous years (2006, 2007, 2009) mom got the recipe from an old neighbor, I think, back on the south side of Chicago, and we’ve made them ever since. They’re great cookies, kind of a shortbread, and they last forever – they can hang for weeks on the tree and still taste quite yummy. I discovered a while back that the Germans apparently hang cookies on Christmas trees, and according to the Rick Steeve’s show I just saw, the English do too.

Here’s the recipe, that I posted a few years ago. You need to find some good cookie cutters too, there are lots of old ones, like the ones we use, on eBay for cheap.

cream together:
1 c butter or margarine
1 c sugar (regular old granulated sugar)

to the creamed butter and sugar add:
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

in separate bowl, mix well:
2 1/4 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar

Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients, blend well (on low mixer speed, otherwise it’s a mess).

Now comes the hard part. Telling when you have enough flour. Some years, I’ve had to add a good extra cup (or more) of flour to make the dough the right consistency. Basically, and this is difficult to describe, but the dough should be a nice thick consistency, almost like play-dough (but not as thick as that). It should not be super soft and gooey, it shouldn’t really be sticky at all. You want something that you’re going to mold into cookies, so it has to be pretty firm to start with.

Once you get the right consistency, chill the dough in the fridge a good hour, to thicken it. Then take it out, spread some flour on your counter or wherever, roll the dough flat and thin (hard to say how thing, really depends on your cookie cutters, but don’t go too thin – you really need a rolling pin to do it right), then cut out your cookies. Transfer them to a baking pan (spray the pan), decorate them with colored sugar, chocolate chips, chocolate ants (as we call them), etc. Move any excess sugar away from the side of the cookies, or it will melt and stick the cookie to the pan. Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the top of each cookie (and once it comes out of the oven, poke the hole again) – you’ll use the hole to string thread through them, and then hang them from the tree (hopefully above dog’s reach).

Then bake 8 to 10 minutes at 375F until slightly brown (possibly longer). Take out, let them cool a good ten or 15 minutes before you try to move them, after several minutes, try jiggling them a bit with your hand so they don’t stick to the pan. These cookies last for literally weeks, no kidding. And they won’t get gross on the tree.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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