Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to use 12 sticks of butter in one weekend

Making Christmas cookies is a really important part of my holidays. My family used to do it together, gathering around the table in my mom’s kitchen to press cookie cutters into the rolled dough and then reconvening a little while later to frost the cookies together. I looked forward to it every year, and I couldn’t imagine celebrating Christmas without engaging in this tradition. As my brothers and I grew older, they lost interest, so soon it was just the girls in the kitchen. I remember being very proud when I was deemed responsible enough to actually roll the dough myself.
My first time doing Christmas cookies as an adult, away from home, was during college. I lived in an on-campus apartment that had a kitchen, so my roommates and I made cookies together. I’d never done it without a kitchenaid mixer before, so it was a learning experience. Judging by their facial expressions in these pictures, it was a learning experience for everyone.
After college, I moved to Pennsylvania for graduate school. Now, my Christmas cookies got a little more serious. Less time at home and no roommates to borrow from meant purchasing my own cookie cutters, cookie sheets, and rolling pin. I invited friends over to do the cookies with me, since for me this is not a solitary activity.
More time passed. After I moved to Maryland, I began stopping to visit my brother for a night before going home to my parents’ for Christmas. One year, we did cookies together. He had a strange set of cookie cutters that he had inherited from our grandmother, and included in the set was a witch on a broom. For some reason, he included this when we did Christmas cookies because he thought it was carousel horse, which also has nothing to do with Christmas but somehow seems more festive.

Unfortunately, the back half of the broom broke off, leaving us giggling like a bunch of 12 year old boys for far too long.
But I digress. Now I live in Maryland and make cookies in my own kitchen. I always invite a friend over for the sake of making it more social, but I would do it on my own if I had to. This is a run-down of what I did this year:
Gingerbread cookies (1 1/2 sticks of butter). Found the recipe on a wrapper last year, and was so pleasantly shocked at how delicious and soft the cookies were that I was careful to preserve the recipe so I could make it again this year
Snickerdoodles (2 sticks of butter). Found a recipe that was okay last year, then read a blog post that professed to have the best recipe ever. Tried it this year and got rave reviews.
Sugar cookies (2 sticks of butter) and frosting (1 stick of butter). Recipe is nothing special. The notable thing is how I accidentally left the frosting beating in my mixer for way longer than usual because I got distracted by watching hubby and the dogs play. It made the frosting especially creamy and amazing. I made my cookies thick, though, so I ended up tossing half the frosting after running out of cookies to frost.
And my specialty, thin mints. The key is peppermint extract in the dough. I found a blog post that explained how to make them last year, and they were good enough to do again. I accidentally doubled the butter in the cookie dough, so I had to double everything else. 2 sticks of butter. I only made enough chocolate coating for a normal batch, though, and left half the cookie dough in the freezer to finish another time. Another 1 1/2 sticks of butter.
(hubby says this looks like a big turd)
Last, but not least, spritz cookies. Forgot to take pictures of them. Another 2 sticks of butter. That makes 12 sticks total. Here’s everything together.
Happy holidays!

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