Christmas cookies are a must in our home. As much as I love all of the Filipino food traditions around the holidays (pineapple on ham being a notable exception), I have also embraced several Western traditions such as gingerbread, roast beef and rolled butter/sugar cookies cut into all kinds of holiday shapes. With things getting frenetic in the past two weeks, we only managed to make one batch of holiday cookies that my daughter decorated herself and brought to her school Christmas party last Friday. On good years where I have tons of time in the kitchen, I make good use of up to 60 different cookie cutters that I stock for the holidaysâ€¦some are made of beautiful copper and others just plain tin or aluminum. There are also cases upon cases of sprinkles, colored sugars, dragees, etc. in the pantry One year I even made a gingerbread carousel with different animals that were each hand-decorated with colored icing!
One of my favorite Christmas cookie cookbooks has to be Roseâ€™s Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum. These traditional rolled sugar cookies are one of the first, and possibly most popular recipes in the book. To make, you will need 2 and Â¼ cup of flour, Â¼ teaspoon salt, Â¾ cup sugar, 180 grams good butter, 1 large egg, zest of one or two lemons using a microplane zester and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Soften the butter and cream with the sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg, lemon zest and vanilla and blend well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients and on low speed add them to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water until the dough comes of the sides of the bowl. I usually donâ€™t need the water with local butterâ€¦
Divide the dough into two or three portions and flatten into discs and wrap with plastic wrap. Do not over handle dough or it will melt. Place discs in fridge for at least two hours and not more than 3 hours. Roll the dough out on baking paper that is lightly floured. I find that rolling the dough between two sheets of baking paper is easiest. Cut out the desired shapes using your cookie cutters and transfer to greased cookie sheets. Add colored sugars or sprinkles if you like. You can also â€œpaintâ€ the cookies with a food coloring and egg yolk mixture. Bake in pre-heated ovens at 350F for about 10 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Re-roll and remaining dough and cut more shapes. These cookies should last a week or so in an airtight container. We have several Christmas cookie jars where they get to hang out until someone reaches in and munches on them!