We have always baked cookies for Christmas. When I was young, my mother and other family members baked many different kinds – from shortbread to sugar cookies to Nanaimo bars to fruit cake to rum balls to these really neat marshmallow chocolate logs. We used to have a big family Christmas party where all these cookies were served. After we moved away from our extended family, the production of cookies streamlined somewhat as it was only the four of us eating them.
As soon as I was old enough to bake, I adopted some cookies into my own repertoire. I don’t do a huge amount of cookie baking these days but there are a few that I try to make every year – sugar cookies, chocolate chip shortbread and cherry chocolate cookies. This past Monday, in fact, I took part in my first ever cookie exchange. I baked several dozen chocolate chip shortbread cookies and got dozens of cookies back – 6 each of 12 different sorts. It’s interesting to see what might be part of other people’s Christmas traditions.
Probably my favourite cookie over the years is the basic sugar cookie. I bake them all through the year – hearts for Valentine’s Day, pumpkins for Halloween, Santas and Christmas trees and stars for Christmas. It’s from the Purity Flour cookbook, published in 1967. (In more recent years, I have been known to replace the shortning with butter.)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Cream 1/2 cup shortening with 1 cup sugar
Add 1 well-beaten egg, 2 T milk or cream and 1/2 t vanilla
Beat until light and fluffy.
Blend or sift together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 t baking powder and 1/2 t salt
Add to creamed mixture and combine well.
Chill the dough.
Turn chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/8″ thickness. Cut out with floured cookie cutter.
Bake on greased baking sheets in preheated 375° oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
Yield: About 5 dozen cookies.