The Joy of Holiday Baking: an instructional of sorts

So here it is that time of year again. A time of merriment and cheer.  A time to bring the outdoors in, light up the place and make sure your smoke alarms are working. So this weekend I got around to making the annual christmas cookies.

I thought I had a plan. After all, I once worked for a principal who’d always say “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I’m not very good in the planning or the organizing department. It seems like I never really get out of this stage and then after much rumination, pondering, reading and wondering I run out of time and just take a nosedive into it. So here I was last Friday. The boy had a half-day at school for one of those odd reasons that always seems to screw up your schedule. On Tuesday, my grocery shopping day, I had picked up the ingredients needed. I hoped I had everything needed, because I’d forgotten the list. Thursday night, I went down to the storage room in the basement and pulled out all the holiday baking supplies.

I had everyone pick a cookie to make from Pinterest. I picked gingerbread cookies, my husband picked a twix cookie, and the boy wanted  chocolate cookies.I had never heard of chocolate christmas cookies. After a search on Pinterest, I found this amazing chocolate sugar dough recipe from Sweetopia.

Here’s a run down on how we bake christmas cookies in my house, step 1:
  • Everyone chooses a type of cookie
  • Mom shops for ingredients crossing fingers she remembered to buy everything needed
  • Mom pulls the baking supplies out of the basement

If you’ve followed my blog, Cooking With Ms. M. then you know that I am not much of a cook, nor a baker. I try. I often fail, but I try. Cookies, after all, are a christmas tradition.

On Friday, I dropped the boy off at the school bus and then got to preparing the dough. First, I made up a box of gingerbread dough from a box I brought at Trader Joe’s.  It’s for cake, but there was an alternate recipe on the side for cookies.

I followed the directions and it was fairly easy. I then rolled this into a ball, placed in a glass bowl covered with plastic and put in the fridge to chill. Next, I started on the chocolate sugar cookie dough. I don’t have a stand mixer, so I used my hand mixer. It was a little tricky as the dough kept balling up in the beaters. I kept scraping everything down with a rubber spatula. I hoped for the best as the recipe said not to overheat or the cookie won’t keep its shape. I rolled the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper and placed on a baking sheet. I put this in the fridge to chill alongside the gingerbread dough. I then went to pick my son up from school.

Back home, we took the gingerbread dough out of the fridge and rolled it out to what we thought was close to 1/8 inch. We used the ninja cookie cutters from last year. This year they didn’t burn like they did last year, as you can read all about it here. The boy was supposed to take pictures, which he did not. After rolling out and cutting the gingerbread he got bored. I realized he was no longer in the kitchen with me when I began cutting out the chocolate sugar dough.

The boy ducking out on baking cookies

The boy ducking out on baking cookies

I marched him back into the kitchen and we continued to cut out cookies. This Chocolate Sugar Cookie dough is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. It is so rich and smooth. I couldn’t resist the urge to eat the cookie dough. Which is just what my son and I did. But this recipe makes a lot of dough. So, I  cut out half the dough and baked it. The other half I poured sprinkles on and rolled up like the dough sold pre-made in the grocery stores. I wrapped it in parchment paper and put back in the fridge

chocolate sugar cookies, rolled, cut out and ready to bake.

chocolate sugar cookies, rolled, cut out and ready to bake.

After baking all the cookies, I left them out on a tray to cool. The plan was to ice them before the ‘Caroling, Cocoa and Cookie Sing-a-Long’ at church the next day.

How we bake christmas cookies in my house, step 2:
  • Mom prepares dough
  • Chill dough in fridge
  • Mom rolls out dough
  • Mom and son cut out a few cookies with cutters
  • Mom finishes cutting out cookies
  • Mom bakes cookies
  • Let cookies cool

The next day, I started to prepare the icing when I read the instructions stated that the icing needed to dry for 24 hours. Oops, no good – the caroling was at 3 pm. I panicked. No one else cared. I went to my trusty pinterest for ideas. I then proceeded to bake the pin wheel dough I had made the day before. Those wouldn’t need to be iced. I cut these out into circles. This was trickier than I imagined, because I couldn’t get them all the same size. I put them in the oven, but because they were thicker than the cookies I baked yesterday they needed to go back in. After the second time, they still seemed to need a minute. Since my husband was next to the stove, I asked him to please put the timer on for a minute. He didn’t. I would have done it myself, but only one person can fit by the stove at a time in my cramped kitchen. Well, of course, the cookies burned because I can’t tell a minute from five minutes. I couldn’t take these to the Sing-a-long. My husband proceeded to eat one and said they were fine. I said I was going to toss them. He asked me to keep them. I lost it. I was stressed out over cookies and no one else in my house seemed to care. Finally, I decided to just take the un-iced cookies.

the un-iced cookies at the sing-a-long

the un-iced cookies at the sing-a-long

The burnt cookies

The burnt cookies

We didn’t get around to icing the cookies until Tuesday night. By this time, we’d been eating the burnt cookies.  Since these cookies were just for us, I let everyone get creative.

How we bake christmas cookies in my house, step 3:
  • Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tbsp milk with a fork until it turns into icing
  • Realize there isn’t time for the icing to harden and panic
  • Get mad at family for not participating and not caring
  • Bring the cookies without icing; no one notices
  • Ice cookies after dinner as a family: no rules
  • Have fun
The finished product

The finished product

I decided it was silly to stress over the fact that baking cookies this year was just not as fun as in the past years. Maybe, my son, who is now 8 is just not interested anymore. I never got around to making the Twix cookies, and probably never will. Next year, there’s going to be a new holiday tradition: buying christmas cookies!

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