Christmas Cookies: My Favorite Holiday Tradition

It’s funny how differently families celebrate the holidays. You don’t realize it until you’re in a committed relationship, when suddenly you find yourself asking: “you did your stockings how?” or “your midnight mass was at midnight?”. Once you start a family, you pick and choose what traditions to keep going with the kids. You can even start new ones together!

My favorite thing about traditions is having a connection to family members who are no longer with us. Sadly, my grandparents passed away when I was young. As a Mom, I find myself wanting to know more and more about them. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Catherine. If nothing else – I know that she was a good French chef and baker! Every year I looked forward to making her famous sugar cookies with my Mom. Everyone who stopped by our house at Christmastime looked forward to them, too!

My family isn’t secretive with our recipes. You can make them for your cookie swaps, too! For best results, use the cutest cookie-cutters, and apply sprinkles generously!

Grandma Catherine’s Vanilla Rolled Christmas Cookies
Yields approximiately 6 dozen cookies

 3 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C shortening (substitute up to 1/3 cup with butter for softer cookies)
1 1/2 C sugar
2 well-beaten eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

4 C powdered sugar
1/2 C softened butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 T milk 
food coloring, optional

In one mixing bowl add: flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. 
In another bowl, add shortening (and butter, if using). Using a mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar, and beat until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well-blended. 
Combine wet and dry ingredients together until mixed well. 
Split dough into 2 disk shapes, covering each in plastic wrap, and let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out dough, using plenty of extra flour on your rolling pin & countertop, 1/4″ thick. Cut out shapes, transferring them to parchment-lined baking pans. Re-roll dough and cut out more shapes as desired!

Bake cookies for 6-10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Each subsequent batch may cook more quickly. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Once cookies are cooled to room temperature, they may be frosted (and sprinkled!):
Combine all ingredients but milk. Beat with mixer on low speed, adding enough milk and scraping bowl often, until you achieve desired spreading consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired.

Warning: you may eat several cookies in a row. These classic sugar cookies are always crowd-pleasers! It’s hard for me to imagine the holidays without them.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Is there a holiday cookie you can’t live without?

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