Who doesn’t love cookies? There is something for everyone – simple shortbread, fudgy chocolate Crackle Cookies, spicy ginger cookies– all conveniently portioned so you can enjoy one or three. Unlike making a cake that requires a commitment, a few minutes of spinning ingredients in a food processor can yield cookie dough that can be scooped, frozen, and baked when the mood strikes. If you are lucky, your son and husband haven’t eaten them straight from the freezer before you have a chance to bake them for yourself!
When my kids were little, I found plenty of holidays or special occasions to bake cookies – to use fun shapes and decorate with colorful frostings: big sugar cookie mittens with their names piped on them; animal-shaped cookies with colorful hair and dots for eyes; ginger cookies decorated to hang on the Christmas tree or to eat.
My kids are no longer little, so when I was recently inspired to bake some ginger cookies, I pulled out my bins of cookie cutters to find maple and oak leaves to make it feel more holiday-like. Rather than pipe-on too-sweet icing, I decided to get creative and painted-on a thin lemon glaze.
My favorite lemon bars
I adore lemon and some of my favorite cookies are flavored with lemon: lemon shortbread cookies, lemon sables, lemon sandwich cookies! At Christmas, our cookie platters always hold lemon bars – shortbread with a tart lemon curd and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Or if you are at my mom’s, the lemon bars have a lemon glaze just like Grandma’s.
There are plenty of lemon bar recipes out there but I always use my Grandma’s recipe in the Maple Hill Lutheran Church cookbook. It brings back memories to look through the book and see names of family members and neighbors that contributed recipes. It also reminds me of being at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. My mom recently told me that she got the recipe from her friend in town and it was my mom who then shared it with Grandma.
Too much of a good thing?
As I was digging through my 3 bins of cookie cutters, most that I haven’t used in years, I was thinking that I should probably pare down my collection. But then what to toss? I haven’t actually used many of them – how many times do you need to bake a cookie in the shape of Minnesota? A foot? – maybe not! I did make lemon sables in the shape of saws and hammers for a contractor friend. Some cutters were souvenirs and some from special events like the teacup from my daughter’s tea-party-themed birthday when she turned four. I will leave the decision of what to toss for another time. In the meantime, I decided to put some cookie-cutters to use:
Sometimes a simple round cookie – sliced from a log and rolled in crystal sugar – is as elegant as it gets. We’re not always whipping up specially decorated cookies, but it’s a fun challenge and sometimes satisfies my creativity or helps me recall fond memories.
One of my favorite sources for cookie recipes is by Dorie Greenspan in Dori’s Cookies. I bake many holiday favorites from Rose’s Christmas Cookies.
Do you enjoy baking? What are your favorite holiday cookie memories? Please share your favorite recipes and images with us! One can never have too many recipes – or cookie cutters!