The Christmas lights are already up on the houses twinkling in the evening calm. The brisk cold wind will be coming in soon to welcome the holiday season. Besides sipping that mulled cider heating on the stove, I look forward to some holiday baking of scrumptious cookies, morsels of pastries, and heartwarming pies. I love the challenge. As the work gets on the way, the sweet aroma of pastries baking in the oven just spurs me on. The marathon has begun!
I love making cookies but it can be quite a frenzy doing all this baking while shopping and decorating for the holidays. Organization is the key to make this manageable and even simple. Here are some tips to help you enjoy making those mouth watering cookies you love. Try to spread out this process over days instead of doing it all at one time. For example, I make all the cookie dough for several recipes at one time and then refrigerate or freeze it. Freezing the dough ahead of time has been one of the biggest help in simplifying this process. You can bake cookies from this pre-made dough any day that suits you. The frozen dough is thawed by transferring it to the refrigerator overnight. It can also be softened at room temperature until pliable. This is a great method for drop cookies such as the many variations of ginger snaps, chocolate chip cookies, lace cookies, and sugar cookies. It works especially well for shaped cookies such as spritz cookies, thumbprint cookies, and Mexican wedding cookies because the cold dough is easily shaped. It also gives a chewier cookie since it isn’t over baked. With cookies and pastries using cream cheese, I freeze the cream cheese dough days or weeks ahead and later roll the dough out at room temperature for cream cheese pastry crescents (rugelach) or shape the dough into balls and pressed them in mini muffin pan as shells for pecan tartlets. For the latter, I have even shaped the dough while soft into the cups and then refrigerate or freeze the entire muffin pan. When it was time to bake, I just spoon the filling in it and bake. So easy! Some cookies are fine freezing them after they are baked. This would be my final choice however this works great for my rainbow or tricolor cookies. Making the rainbow cookies is not hard but time consuming since it requires many steps and pressing the baked cake with weights overnight. Whenever I make these, I triple the recipe and freeze the finished product after cutting into individual logs with the chocolate coating. It is available whenever we crave for it. From experience, I have had to hide them or they will be eaten all at one sitting.
I get excited just thinking about which cookie recipes I will choose to bake a colorful assortment this season. It brings back memories of baking with my boys when they were young and how much enjoyment it brought to all of us as they decorate gingerbread people with their creative wilds. So make this fun and simple by staging the process. The added benefit is to have homemade cookies whenever you want them.
Wishing all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Share your cookies!
Cookies for Christmas by Jennifer Darling
I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers
Christmas Cookies from the Whimsical Bakehouse by Kaye Hansen and Liv Hansen
The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook
The Christmas Cookie Book by Judy Knipe and Barbara Marks
Cookies to Die For! by Bev Shaffer
A Baker’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies by Dede Wilson