Or, "12 Christmas Memories: Part III"
I simply couldn't do a series on my Christmas memories without cookies.
My grandmother always made cookies for the holidays, but my mom? She goes crazy. In addition to making them for the family, she's now started selling trays of homemade cookies and candy--and she's doing so well that I just may have to go to America to help her next year. Go Mom!
And so, making cookies is definitely one of my fondest Christmas memories. From the time I could walk, I was around the kitchen helping make cookies--although for a while there I didn't do much other than steal chocolate chips off the table, earning me the nickname "Cookie Monster" from my mom's friend, her baking partner for many years.
But eventually I worked my way up to working with sprinkles and candied cherries. You know, the Big Time.
My mom made it fun not only for me but also for the friends I was allowed to invite over to help decorate the cut-out cookies--there were far too many stockings and Santas and snowmen and bells and wreaths for just one or two people to decorate.
So at my mom's house, we'd have decorating slumber parties every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just the other day, in fact, one of my best friends and regular participants in the bake-a-thons left a comment here on the blog longing for the days of such innocent fun.
And I'm so with her on that.
And yes, in case you're wondering, my niece is fully prepared to keep this tradition going. Just the other day my mom said that she's getting to the age where she can have some friends over to help decorate (she already helps my mom with the cut-outs).
So next year, 9-year-olds at Nana's!
Before this year, I have never done the Christmas cookie thing by myself--why would I when my mom had it covered? But now that I've been here for a few years and have really missed those tastes of home, I decided that this year I'd make some of my mom's recipes and give out trays to Italian family, friends, and neighbors.
I highly doubt any of them have ever even seen the cookies I made, so it'll be an interesting experience for all of us.
Yesterday I finished up the last of six types that I made this year, and I've already decided that next year I'll try my hand at even more. My mom had sent me some things like chocolate chips and brown sugar, but since I decided on Operazione Biscotti at the last minute, some cookies just weren't going to happen this year for lack of the proper ingredients and tools.
But look out Christmas 2008!
I'm not going to share all the recipes with you now, or even the photos just yet, but I will let you in on what has to be one of the easiest and tastiest cookies ever for this week's What's Cooking Wednesday. In fact, this is a great one to make with kids because they get to play around in the dough as much as they want and they really can't ruin it.
These classics will also be my entry in Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies event. Go check out all the great cookies over there--just beware you'll probably leave hungry.
Jelly of your choice (I used apricot and strawberry)
Combine flour and sugar and then cut in butter until well distributed. Sprinkle with vanilla and mix dough with hands until smooth.
Shape into 1 inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet.
Indent centers with lightly floured finger (or thumb!) and fill with jelly.
Bake in preheated 325°F (163°C) oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove to rack to cool.
Easy peasy and tasty too!
*I should note that the original recipe calls for a cup of chopped nuts--I just don't like them in this, so I don't put them in. If you want to, put 1/2 of them in with the flour and sugar in the beginning, and then, after you make the dough into balls, roll them in the remaining nuts. Thanks Christina for reminding me to include this!