Every December, for one day, my kitchen is filled with ever-present whir of a mixer, Christmas music and a cacophony of voices and giggles. The air is thick with flour particles, and the floor is sticky with sprinkles and granules of sugar. It’s my family’s annual Cookie Day, and it is one of my very favorite days of the year.
Cookie Day began when my Granny thought it would be a good way to help my mom do her Christmas baking when my older sister was a wee, smushy baby and has continued for forty-plus years. It has changed and morphed over the years to include grandparents, aunts, friends and in-laws of all sorts. Always present are my mom, my sister and me. When we were younger, it was a fun day to help mom in the kitchen. As we’ve grown up and have our own families now, it’s one of the only days every year where we are all together all day, just talking. Baking and talking. And maybe making up dance routines to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album using garland as an accessory.
It’s one of those days when, regardless of what’s happening in life or how difficult the year may have been, we gather in the kitchen with my mom’s basket full of recipes that are worn and stained with memories of Cookie Days past to complete the yearly ritual. Mix, stir, sprinkle, taste, talk, laugh.
By the end of the day, we are exhausted and a little too full of sugar, but we’ve got dozens of cookies to take home as treats for friends, neighbors, teachers or holiday parties. And another year of memories in the kitchen together. For a busy parent, a day like Cookie Day can be a fun way to get help from your family and friends and scratch your holiday baking off of your to do list.
Tips on planning your own Cookie Day:
- Pick out a few recipes ahead of time and divide your grocery list so you have the right ingredients without having too much or not enough of any particular item.
- Make sure you have the equipment you need ahead of time. If you recipe calls for something special, like a cookie press, make sure you have one in the kitchen or make sure someone can bring one for the day.
- Think about the timing. For example, while you’ve got a batch of sugar cookies in the oven, work on some no-bake treats or prep for your next item.
- Have stations, if possible. An area for mixing, a spot set aside for decorating, etc.
- Make sure everyone brings containers, so you can easily transport your cookies at the end of the day.
- Don’t have a lot of time for your cookie day? Local bakery Dolce in Long Beach is offering a cookie decorating kit. You can get sugar cookies in Christmas shapes that are ready to decorate with the bags of royal icing and sprinkles included.
Some Classic Cookie Day Recipes
Yield: A Bunch!
1 # margarine or butter (one/half pound of each)
1 cup Crisco
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
7 ½ cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar
Add eggs and vanilla
Add flour and baking powder
Divide dough and color as desired
Place portions of dough into cookie press and press onto un-greased cookie sheets
Bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes
Cool on wire racks
– Spritz are great cookies to make at any age. Adults and older kids can mix the dough, and younger kids have a great time decorating!
- Our family uses green and red food coloring to make the dough beautiful and a cookie press to shape the cookies into snowmen, poinsettia and Christmas tree shapes. After we press the cookies and before we bake, the kids use sprinkles to make the finished products festive.
- Parchment paper makes it easier to remove cookies from the pans.
Green Wreath Cookies
Yield: Two dozen or more, depending on size
32 large marshmallows
6 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon green food coloring
4 cups corn flakes cereal
Red cinnamon candies (red hots)
Place buttered wax paper on counter or table top
Place a bowl of red hots nearby
Melt marshmallows and butter in large saucepan over low heat
Mix in flavorings and food coloring
Add corn flakes and stir until coated
Place over hot water; stir occasionally
Butter hands well
Using two spoons, drop mixture onto waxed paper
Form into wreaths immediately
Decorate with cinnamon candies before wreaths harden
- This is a crowd favorite, so you may want to double the recipe!
- This recipe is much easier when you work with a partner.