Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Cookie Countdown

I love baking Christmas cookies. A couple weeks ago the boys and I surfed the Calgary Public Library website and we placed holds on all the cookbooks with yummy-looking cookies on their covers. One of the best books I found is titled FamilyFun's Cookies for Christmas. Between its pages I discovered a great kids' craft idea --- an advent calender made of cookies!

Over the past couple of days my boys and I made our own Christmas cookie calendar. We rolled dough, cut out stars, baked, and liberally decorated our cookies with colourful candies. I wrapped the star cookies in plastic and tied them with ribbons. We've displayed the cookies in tidy rows on a bulletin board.

My boys are very excited by the prospect of eating one cookie every day until Christmas. (I am slightly less excited about the potential sugar crashes, but it's the Christmas season so I'm willing to bend ;-).

As we decorated our cookies yesterday, I had the following conversation with my nearly-four-year-old son:

"Our advent calendar will help us count down the days until Jesus' birthday," I explained, "We will eat one cookie every day. When all the cookies are gone we know it is time for Christmas to come!"

My son's face fell and his bottom lip began to quiver. I was momentarily confused by his reaction. "But Mommy," he cried, "It won't be time for Christmas ... It will be time to make more cookies!"

Here is a copy of the recipe I used to make our advent cookie calendar. This dough is wonderful to work with. Enjoy!

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C. sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, stir in the egg, then the corn syrup and vanilla extract. One third at a time, add the flour mixture until thoroughly mixed. Pat the dough into two disks, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm enough to roll. If the dough is too firm, soften at room temperature for about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and cut out the cookies with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer the shapes to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between the cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown lightly around the edges.

Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month and for up to 3 days at room temperature before you frost them. Makes 12 to 50 cookies, depending on their size.

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