For many American families one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season is making Christmas cookies. Each culture has its own types of cookies that are traditionally made at Christmas, and in the United States, the predominant Christmas cookies are rolled cookies cut into Christmas shapes and decorated. For most Americans the holiday season is not complete without whipping up a batch or two of their favorite Christmas cookies and sharing the treats with family and friends.
American families typically make or buy Christmas cookies in the weeks leading up to Christmas and eat them throughout the Christmas season. Christmas cookies are commonly present as dessert at Christmas Eve meals and Christmas dinner, and many small children leave Christmas cookies out for Santa to eat when he stops in on Christmas Eve.
Sugar Cookies and Gingerbread Men
While many cookies are associated with Christmas, the two most popular Christmas cookies are sugar cookies and gingerbread men. Sugar cookies, or a similar butter cookie, are typically rolled out and cut with an assortment of Christmas-shaped cookie cutters and decorated with colored sugars or frosting. Gingerbread men are cut out of a rolled gingerbread dough and either frosted or decorated with candies or raisins.
Sugar cookie dough used to make Christmas cookies normally consists of flour, salt, baking powder, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. The dry ingredients are sifted together while the other ingredients are beaten together with an electric mixer. After the dry ingredients are incorporated into the butter mixture, the dough should be refrigerated for at least an hour before rolling and cutting the Christmas cookies. Dough should be rolled to 1/4-inch thickness and Christmas cookies should be baked in a 350º oven until the edges brown, about 10 minutes.
There are several variations of dough used to make gingerbread men Christmas cookies, but the most standard include flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, butter, sugar, eggs and molasses. The dry ingredients, including the spices, are sifted together while the other ingredients are beaten together. This dough must also be refrigerated after mixing in the dry ingredients, usually for at least two hours. After rolling the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness, the gingerbread men Christmas cookies can be cut out with a gingerbread man cutter and baked at 350º for eight to 12 minutes. If either type of Christmas cookie is to be frosted, the cookies should be allowed to cool completely before decorating.
The Easy Way
For those with little talent for baking, there are still many ways to enjoy Christmas cookies throughout the holiday season. Bakeries typically devote many hours to Christmas cookies throughout the month of December, so bakery Christmas cookies are readily available at most shops for the busy and non-bakers alike. Also, there are countless dry mixes for Christmas cookies and refrigerated dough for Christmas cookies sold in grocery stores today to help make baking the treats a little easier.
There are several benefits to making Christmas cookies each year, aside from getting to eat them when they are finished. For many families, making Christmas cookies together is a tradition looked forward to by everyone, and it is a great way to spend quality, affordable time together around the busy holidays.
Also, many families like to make Christmas cookies and package them as gifts to neighbors, co-workers, teachers, classmates and friends. Christmas cookies make a meaningful homemade gift and are almost always a hit with the recipient.