Tis the season for cookies, and baking, and warm spices and the list goes on! I simply love this season, because it involves my most favorite thing to do – BAKING! All the decorations all over town are beginning to show up now, along with christmas trees all over town. We recently saw the huge Christmas Tree at Union Square over the Thanksgiving weekend, and it is absolutely beautiful! The whole place is buzzing with lights, holiday music and cheer, hot toddies, hot chocolate, gifts all around for people to shop, and people in the holiday spirit! There is a winter chill in the air, which is wonderful too. I can finally remove my sweaters, jackets, scarves, and boots! 🙂
I have been wanting to do 12 days of Christmas Cookies/Treats since the past 2 years, where I post a recipe every day, beginning Dec 1st. Well, it has not been possible in the past 2 years, and I have been bummed out. So this year, I took a very proactive approach and planned what cookies/treats I wanted to bake a month in advance, so that I could start prepping, and revising my recipes in advance and have them all ready to go starting December 1st! So all my thorough planning worked, and I will be doing a new blog post every day for the next 12 days including today! OK well, I will be doing 11 blog posts, because I will be reusing a favorite recipe of mine as the 12th recipe! 🙂
A little insight into my process of choosing the cookies/treats I wanted to do, and the various lists that I made to come up with my list and the final outcome! I used 10 of the recipes for my ULTIMATE COOKIE BOX! For any cookie box, you need a sugar cookie, an eggnog based cookie, a peppermint cookie, a fudge, a gingerbread cookie, cookies from round the world like macarons, linzer and/or rugelach, a shortbread. These are the ones I feel are essential for a cookie box and the rest could vary depending upon your taste and fancy! I do love adding seasonal flavor pairings in my sweet treats, so you will see cranberry, or gingerbread flavors, orange and lemon add bright flavors to cookies, and warm spices are essential for cookies too, keeping in tune with the time of the year.
I really wanted to add a few recipes from cookbooks that have been released this year from 3 of my favorite bakers : Rebecca from Displaced Housewife, Jessie from Jessie Bakes, and Fanny from Oh Sweet Day. All of them have released 3 fantastic cookbooks, which I am really in love with. They are all different, and have different styles, but they all speak to me with their desserts/bakes. So with their permission, I have included one recipe from each of these authors as well as part of my 12 days of Christmas Cookies/Treats. I will be sharing their recipe here on my blog.
To start off with, I go with the simple sugar cookie! They are simple to make, and the fun part is making the different holiday shapes, and decorating them with royal icing! I used the royal icing recipe from Sweet Ambs, who has the most exquisite beautiful, mind blowing cookie videos of how she does the royal icing, and I was so inspired with her work! I used stiff royal icing to outline the cookie and medium consistency royal icing for the flooding. I decorated the snowflake cookie with sprinkles that I bought from Fancy Sprinkles, and they worked out great and look super pretty in my opinion! 🙂
I got my kids involved and we made the dough together. Then they helped me pipe the cookies as well, and they had fun decorating them with sprinkles! 🙂 Holidays are a time to bake with your family, kids and get them involved in the kitchen. It is a time to reflect and spend with your families, bond together and cherish the memories. So use this time to get in the kitchen with your loved ones, and bake away! 🙂
I hope you enjoy this cookie decorating as much as we did, and if you do try this recipe, please do not forget to tag me #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave me a comment below on this blog post.
Day 2 is one of my favorite cookies with one spice that I use every single day of my life! 🙂
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground star anise
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted room temperature butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 orange
- Royal Icing:
- (Recipe from SweetAmbs)
- 3 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup meringue powder(available at Michael's or Amazon)
- 90ml water at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Sugar Cookie Recipe:
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, star, star anise and whisk it all together.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Cream it together at high speed for about 3 minutes. Scrap down the bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla extract and orange zest, and whisk at medium speed until combined.
- Now add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix at low speed until well combined. Scrap down the sides of the bowl.
- Remove the mixture and divide it equally into 2 plastic wraps. Cover it and mold it into a round disk neatly. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Once the dough is chilled, remove one from the fridge. Dust a clean surface with flour. Put the disk on the flour surface, and flour it again. With a rolling pin, start rolling the dough gently until it is about 1/4 inch flat, and even all around. Use a snowflake cutter and start cutting out shapes.
- On a cookie sheet with parchment paper, gently lift the cut shapes with a small offset spatula, and plate it on the cookie sheet. Leave about 1 inch gap between the cookies. Put it in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill.
- Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the sheet. Once cooled for about 15 minutes, let them rest on a wired rack. They are ready to pipe and decorate after about half an hour.
- Decorate with royal icing, recipe follows. Make sure to create a thicker icing for the outline of the cookie first. Then use a slightly thinner icing to flood the inside of the cookie. Use the thicker white icing to make the snowflake design. You can use sparkling sprinkles to decorate the rest of the cookie however you like it.
- Royal Icing:
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the confectioner's sugar, meringue powder on low speed until combined.
- On low speed, slowly add the water and let it combine. Add in the vanilla extract. Scrap the bowl.
- Continue to mix the icing on low speed until the icing is light in color and holds a stiff peak, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overmix the icing.
- Use the stiff consistency as-is for the outline of the cookie. Separate the icing into 2 different bowls for the white and the blue color. For the blue color, add 1 tsp of water first to create a medium consistency(flood consistency). Add in the color and mix.
- Put the colors in a 12 inch pastry bag with a very tiny pipping tip. Scrap the icing down with a bench scraper. Secure the top tight. Use the pipping bags to decorate the cookies with royal icing.
- The bags can be kept in the refrigerator for 10 days. Keep the tips well secured, so as not to dry out the icing.