We just can’t help it. Our family loves decorating cookies together. It’s just another way of drawing using different colours of edible products and blank cookies instead of crayons and paper.
Since cookies keep for a while when stored in airtight containers, I usually bake ahead and then we get out everything for a massive icing session while the Christmas playlist blares away on my iPod.
This year, we iced in two batches, one for the teachers a few days before I left for Dad’s funeral and then the last of the cookies on the same day we made our Gingerbread house as a family.
Royal icing powder from places like the Bulk Barn is great to use because it hardens so quickly. It also holds up well if you are packing a variety of cookies into a single tin or container. We usually make up two batches of white icing and then put food colouring into a variety of plastic bags to tint the white from there. Never use cheaper sandwich bags for this because the zip seal tops have a tendency to explode when you least expect them to. Snipping off a tiny corner of each bag allows for a fairly even flow of icing.
We also try to stick to similar shapes of cookies every year; gingerbread, sugar cookies and shortbread.
I tend to keep mine looking fairly consistent since I ice big batches on cookie sheets all at once...
The girls are fond of picking out a selection of cookies to ice individually for their teachers...
and Nick likes to make the really odd ones that we give to our closest friends.
Once everything is done, the pictures are taken, the cookies batched up and the best ones chosen for Santa’s plate, there’s really nothing left to do except the dishes... and plan for next year’s cookie extravaganza.
INHALE: It’s funny how many of our celebrations revolve around food. I used to feel guilty as a Weight Watchers leader about giving food as gifts. Now I understand that sometimes it’s not about quantity, but rather about quality and presentation. A small selection of hand decorated cookies makes a wonderful, caring gift even if it does contain calories. The girls get such a kick out of making them as well as presenting them to their teachers on the last day of school before the holidays. Handmade isn’t always cheaper or easier, but it can be a lot of fun!
EXHALE: Holiday baking is all done now. This post was originally going to appear before Christmas, but there are still ways to dream for next year. Where do you keep your favourite holiday recipes? If you have children, there are recipes that they will want to have later when they set out on their own to duplicate childhood memories in their own homes someday. Take a page in your book and write, sketch or doodle some of your earliest childhood memories about holiday baking. Try to capture the smells, the sights and above all.... try not to drool too much on the page!