This time of the year the one thing I miss the most is baking Christmas cookies with my Mom. Every holiday season our baking was something akin to an Olympic event involving painstaking preparation and powerful tests of endurance. We would line up our ingredients, crank the Loretta Lynn Christmas album and get to work.
The first recipe on the docket was always the one for rolled sugar cookies because the dough had to chill in our “Polish Refrigerator” aka the un-insulated back porch, for a couple of hours to firm up to make the cut outs.
Everything was done from scratch from the fragrant smooth dough to the decadent icing tinted every color of the rainbow. Mom would pull open the stubborn bottom drawer of her kitchen cabinet, the one that always smelled of the brown sugar stored in the drawer above, and retrieve an ice cream pail full of cookie cutters as old as time.
In the yellow glow of the kitchen light the aluminim cutters reflected warmly on the worn Formica countertop. I would eagerly dig through the pile to find Santa with his gift bag, the snowflake, and my favorite leaping reindeer cutters, relieved that they survived another year.
With the table liberally dusted in flour, Mom would roll out sections of dough with a 50 year old rolling pin that creaked with each push. Silken dough, perfectly chilled, was rolled to 1/4 inch thickness before cutting into the cheerful shapes of the season. Hearts, diamonds, spades, Santa’s, reindeer, snowflakes, clubs, and stars covered well seasoned cookie sheets lined in parchment.
The cozy house soon filled with the scent of warm sugar, butter, and of home at Christmas. I would eagerly watch through the amber tinted glass of the oven door for the cookies to finish baking and then hours were spent in decoration. Mom would whip up a large batch of basic powdered sugar icing with just enough Watkins vanilla to turn simple into spectacular and set me to work with bowls for mixing colors.
Red for Santa was the most important and drop by drop from a tear shaped bottle of coloring would be added to achieve the correct hue. Containers of sprinkles emerged from the battered spice drawer perfumed with the exotic scents of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. The icing was applied and quickly after the dusting of sprinkles, silver and gold baubles, and colored sugar that dyed fingers red and green.
Sheets of waxed paper spread across the dining room table like red carpets awaiting special guests. Soon, row upon colorful row of cookies littered the table painstakingly decorated by clumsy yet determined 7 year old hands. A Christmas mosaic of sugar laden artwork.
The memories of our special baking days sits neatly in the part of my heart reserved for that which I hold most dear. I cannot stir flour, butter, and sugar together without picturing Mom in her calico apron piped in peach fabric, her work worn hands gently guiding my soft childish ones in the making of so many recipes. Yes, one could say, the golden glow of a mother’s love never fades even when she is no longer capable of expressing it.
With this post from Christmas Past I wish to share with you our favorite rolled sugar cookie recipe so that you too can create memories to cherish like mine.
Corn Syrup Cookies
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter at room temp
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup corn syrup
Beat sugar and eggs until lemon yellow. Add syrup and vanilla, stir in dry ingredients to make a smooth dough. Chill 2 hours. Roll out on floured surface and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
And at 350° on parchment lined cookie sheets until the edges are slightly golden. When cool, ice with your favorite icing.