You guys! We’re now on the serious Christmas countdown. One week left until Christmas Eve. I’m psyched. Actually, double psyched because I finally feel like I’m with the holiday program. It took a while. Our Christmas tree is finally up. I’ve been meaning to get it up/decorated since the 1st, but just couldn’t get it done.
I finally realized what was happening was that I was waiting for the perfect peaceful moment, when my children were well rested, when I had a batch of fresh baked cookies on hand, and my husband was home and available, to do the tree. I think I wanted to re-create some of my awesome childhood Christmas memories for my kids. My Mom (and Dad!) was amazing about Christmas. We certainly got spoiled completely rotten, which every kid loves; but we also had a lot of fun family traditions that truly made the holiday feel special. We always went to a beautiful Christmas Eve service together. Read the Christmas story. We baked. We went for a drive with hot chocolate to look at Christmas lights. And we always decorated the tree together, looking at the favorite family ornaments that we had acquired or made over the years. And my Mom totally always had cookies for the tree decorating. It was like a mini party. I always loved it.
I was talking to my Mom about all this, and she actually reminded me that she too felt crazy and harried around Christmas when I was a kid, and everything wasn’t always perfect either. She pointed out that many a time she picked up cookies form the store rather then baking them for our ‘tree party’ and it didn’t lessen anybody’s enjoyment of our time together one bit. She did carry on our traditions, but not with a dogged precision. The point was that it was our time together, celebrating an event that was deeply important, together that counted; not doing things perfectly. I finally realized that perfectly well rested children, fresh baked cookies, and a husband who is home from work at a reasonable hour, all at the same time is just not often part of my reality right now; and that I needed to chill out. And as my Mom pointed out, I didn’t have to do everything just so to create great Christmas memories for my boys. I guess I knew that all along. But sometimes you forget these things until your Mom reminds you.
So obviously I chilled out. I used my tiny tree that does not require assembly, rather then the giant one that is a jig saw puzzle to put together. And one evening, entirely too close to the kids bedtime, we pulled down the big container of (shatterproof) ornaments and let the boys have at it. They totally went to town and had a blast. My little one, Tristan, was incredibly pleased with himself when he managed to get a few ornaments hung all by himself. Of course, we all clapped for him when he succeeded. He now claps every time he walks by the Christmas tree. Too cute! Conclusion: I think the kids will grow up with plenty of happy Christmas memories. And I have a Christmas tree up before Christmas.
Speaking of chilling out, lets talk Christmas baking with the kids. As is probably the case with many of you, I love baking with my kids. Especially for Christmas. But, lets be honest: it’s extra messy with the kids, extra tiring, and depending on the recipe the kids get kinda board with the steps they can’t do, or when they have to wait. For example, sugar cookies where you have to chill the dough. Sugar cookies are pretty much the perfect kid cookie, they all love em’, you can cut our shapes, they are a wonderful vehicle for sprinkles or frosting… but the chilling thing? Ugh. My boys get all excited making the dough, and then it goes into the fridge. Serious cookie let down. They’re rearing to break out the sprinkles by the time the dough is done.
All of this to say, I’ve come up with an awesome no-chill sugar cookie recipe. Make the dough (it’s speedy) and grab those cookie cutters! I should also mention, equally important to the instant gratification factor for the kids, these cookies taste amazing. I’m not usually a sugar cookie girl, but these are delicious. Deeply vanilla, with a little bit of something you can’t quite put your finger on, but whatever it is just adds some sumptin-sumptin. (The secret ingredient is actually a little bit of almond flour. Seriously amazing. I’m telling you.) The photos pictured are from a batch of cookies Aiden and I made together yesterday. (We actually made cut out stars in addition to the “extra thick round cookies” both turned out great!) The recipe is totally kid tested and approved, in addition to the normal me tested and approved. Winner! Happy baking.
Best Ever No Chill Sugar Cookies
Adapted From: In Katrina’s Kitchen
- 2 sticks of salted butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Int the bowl of a large stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar.
2. Add in the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl sift together the almond flour, all purpose flour, and baking powder. Add to the mixing bowl. Mix at the lowest speed. At first the dough will be crumbly, this is ok, do not add additional moisture Continue mixing until a smooth dough is formed.
4. No chilling required. Immediately roll out the dough (about 1/8 inch thick) and cut into desired shapes. Place on and un-greased cookie sheet 1/4 inch apart. Bake at 350* for 6-10 minutes depending on the size of the shapes. For extra thick round cookies, use hands to form dough into a log shape about 3 inches diameter. Cut into 1/2 thick rounds. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-16 minutes.