Nostalgic Christmas Cookies
One of the many Christmas traditions that we share is being in the kitchen with family and baking up large batches of cookies. No matter how many times we make them, cookies have a way of making us feel nostalgic for the days of our youth, especially during the trying times of a pandemic.
As we all spend our holidays close to home this year, let’s break out the recipe box and roll up our sleeves to recreate some of our favorite cookie recipes from Christmases past.
A simple but delicious treat, spritz cookies originated in Scandinavian countries as a simple butter cookie that has become a household staple. Spritz comes from the German word “spritzen” which means “to squirt.” This makes sense considering that spritz cookies are formed by pushing dough through a cookie press fitted with design discs.
Spritz cookies are a diverse treat as the dough can be dyed in different colors, pressed into unique shapes and then decorated with anything you can find in your pantry, from sprinkles to nuts. They are also small enough that you can indulge in an entire handful of them without feeling too guilty.
There are songs about them, movies that parody them and a dozen ways to create and decorate them. Gingerbread men have become a staple of the Christmas holiday for many, but their history is quite unique.
Gingerbread men were said to originate from Queen Elizabeth in the 16th century who had an official gingerbread maker. This baker would create gingerbread likenesses of visiting guests and dignitaries to court as a special token from the queen herself.
Gingerbread men were also used by folk-medicine practitioners as “love tokens” to help young women find men to fall in love with them. The same cannot be said for gingerbread men today, but you can find gingerbread being used in other ways, such as gingerbread houses that can be decorated with frosting and candies.
Noted by their yummy cinnamon smell and snap-like crunch, Gingerbread men are traditionally decorated with piped frosting, but can also be decorated with candies to bring more color and personality.
If you want a simple yet delicious cookie that you can make with your children, look no further than the humble sugar cookie. Sugar cookies originated in the 18th century by German Protestant settlers in Pennsylvania. Known then as “Nazareth Cookies” they eventually gained notoriety as Pennsylvania’s official cookie!
Sugar cookies are made with only 7 ingredients that many of us have in our pantries at the ready. Once the dough is formed, it can be rolled out and cut into any shape you can think of. The best part of a sugar cookie, however, is the decorating! You can use royal icing, frosting, candies, sprinkles or even melted chocolate to create beautiful and delicious treats for all of your guests.
Said to have originated in Arab cuisine, pecan sandies are named for their “sand-like” color and of course, pecans. Pecan sandies are a sweet, chewy shortbread cookie that can accompany any Christmas drink, such as milk, coffee or tea. These cookies were made popular because they travel well, making them a perfect treat to bring with you when visiting family for Christmas.
Pecan sandies have become such a popular cookie that there is even an annual holiday in their honor. June 23rd is National Pecan Sandies Day and many bakeries across the country will bake special batches of their own recipe for their customers to enjoy.
Christmas Tree Cookie Ornaments
If you want a simple and sweet treat to bake up for your holiday parties, look no further than the jam thumbprint. These pastry cookies originated in Sweden and are known as “hallongrotta” or “raspberry cave.” They are named for the way they are prepared – rolling dough into a ball and then pressing your thumb into the center to create a well
These shortbread-like cookies are made with just 5 ingredients and can later be filled with jam once cooked. The traditional jam flavor is raspberry, but jams of any flavor can be used depending on your preference. You can also fill them with chocolate if you prefer a more decadent flavor.
If you are a chocolate fan then Chocolate Crinkle cookies should be on your list of things to bake this Christmas season. Chocolate Crinkles were invented by Helen Fredell in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early 20th century. It is said that Betty Crocker herself begged Helen for the recipe which can now be found in her cookbook.
What sets these crinkle cookies apart from other recipes is want to put the dough into the oven cold as opposed to room temperature like most cookie recipes. Putting cold dough in the oven is what causes the cookies to “crack” on the top, giving them a fun and unique appearance once baked.
Chocolate crinkle cookies taste similar to brownies and are adorned with powder sugar before disappearing off your plate!
Fruitcakes have gotten a bad rap over the years as the gift that no one wants but always seem to get during the holidays. But did you know that fruitcake has a prominent part in history? Fruit cake dates back almost 2000 years and was even used as wedding cake in England in the 19th century.
Why was fruitcake so popular? Fruitcake is made by soaking fruit and nuts in sugar and then allowing them to be dried, allowing the cake to last for a long time. In the days where refrigeration was not an option, fruit cakes were a practical way to keep sweets in your home or for long journeys.
Because fruitcake is so heavy and rich, many people leave it sitting around their homes or re-gift it to other family members. But why not try to rejuvenate this recipe and make fruit cake cookies instead?
Fruit cake cookies come out light and chewy compared to their very heavy fruitcake sibling. They can be filled with nuts and dried fruits or you can even add a dash of rum to give your guests a really special treat!
Create Some Cookie Magic
Whether you get in the kitchen and bake up a batch of these nostalgic cookies or try something new, spending time with family and friends baking is a recipe that will never go out of style. Baking is a way for us to pass along traditions to our children and give them memories they will carry with them for years to come.
Pull out that apron and gather your ingredients! It’s time for you to start baking up some holiday memories.
Cooking and Baking Christmas Tree Ornaments