Southern Lady Magazine

Sweet Tidings: Christmas Cookies to Make and Bake

From seasonal décor to edible gifts to simply delicious sweets, this collection of Christmas cookies brims with flavor and fun.

By Elizabeth Bonner

Of all the traditions that come with the holidays, making Christmas cookies may just be the sweetest. From childhood memories of preparing treats with parents and grandparents to growing up and passing along festive favorites to the next generation, there’s something about baking goodies that adds to the magic of the season.

That’s what the writers of Christmas Cookies to Make and Bake seek to capture in their compilation of more than 25 creative confections to add to your December repertoire. Divided into four distinctive sections—Decorations, Festive Fun, Edible Gifts, and Traditions—this cookbook has something for every baker: the novice and the expert, the innovator and the traditionalist, and even those who are just in it for the fellowship and the tasty final products.

Clever novelties mix with classics like delectable sugar cookies and gingerbread, but many of these customary concoctions are presented in new ways. Along with familiar flavors, readers will find intriguing twists with international roots in recipes like British Christmas Puddings, Scottish Cardamom Shortbread, German Lebkuchen, and Italian Florentines. Amid the global assemblage, Southern influence can be seen in selections like Chestnut-Choc-Chip Cookies, Spiced Brown Sugar & Clementine Stars, and even a chocolate gingerbread sweetened with molasses.

The book offers helpful tutorials for packaging cookies as pretty gifts, and inspiration abounds for incorporating the confections into holiday décor. Stained Glass Cookies are perfect for hanging in window displays, with their intricate snowflake shape and jewellike centers made from crushed hard candies. Holly Jolly Wreaths add a hospitable touch to place settings when tied to napkins with red ribbon.

Continue the ornamentation with fun for little ones, and let their imaginations run wild with Super-Simple Tree Decorations, basic sugar cookies to adorn and lend a spotlight on the tree. Children will also enjoy crafting iconic Christmas symbols—from a gingerbread family and smiling Santas to snowmen, shooting stars, and even a trio of Russian dolls. And families can focus on the reason for the season with an edible Advent calendar made from chocolate and vanilla shortbread.

As flour starts flying and the aroma of Christmases past begins to fill the air, the kitchen is sure to become the gathering ground of your home. With its plethora of sweet goodness, the creators of this compilation hope the baking it inspires will be done in the true spirit of the holiday.

“Giving and receiving are such an important part of the Christmas tradition,” write the authors. “And home-baked cookies and other sweet treats packaged in cellophane bags or boxes and tied with ribbons are guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of all those lucky enough to receive them, whether it’s much-loved grandparents, thoughtful neighbours, or a favourite teacher.”

Visit Southern Lady’s 2016 Merry Days of Christmas Giveaways webpage for a chance to win a copy of Christmas Cookies to Make and Bake, and continue reading for a couple recipes from the book!

From Southern Lady November/December 2016

Crunchy Christmas Trees
Makes 20 to 25
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  1. 1/2 cup (125 grams) butter
  2. 2/3 cup (125 grams) caster/granulated sugar
  3. 1 whole egg
  4. 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  6. 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  7. 3/4 cup (100 grams) finely chopped pistachios
  8. Icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
  9. 2 prepared baking sheets
  10. Christmas tree-shaped cookie cutters in assorted sizes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the whole egg and beat until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour and bring the mixture together to make a soft, but not sticky dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out Christmas trees using the cookie cutters. Lay them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space for spreading between each one. Bring the trimmed dough together and roll out again to cut as many cookies out of the dough as possible. Arrange on the baking sheets with the other cookies.
  4. Brush the top of each cookie with the lightly beaten egg white, leaving the trunk of the tree without the egg white wash. Scatter the chopped pistachios over the branch part of the tree.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden and firm. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing/confectioners’ sugar to emulate freshly fallen snow, if liked.
  1. Tip from our Test Kitchen: Try adding ½ teaspoon vanilla extract for a little extra flavor.
Southern Lady Magazine
Coconut Snowballs
Makes 25 to 30 cookies
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  1. 6 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  5. 1 generous teaspoon baking powder
  6. Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  8. Scant 1/2 cup seedless orange marmalade
  9. 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
  10. 2 prepared baking sheets
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the egg, and continue to beat until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour, baking powder and orange zest and bring the mixture together to form a stiff dough.
  3. Roll the mixture into small balls the size of walnuts and lay on the prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space for spreading between each one. Pat down lightly for a flat finish (as pictured) or leave ball-shaped for a snowball bite.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until light golden and firm.
  5. Leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes or so to cool slightly, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Put the dessicated/shredded coconut in a wide, shallow dish and set aside.
  7. When the snowballs are cold, gently warm the marmalade in a small saucepan set over a low heat and brush it over the entire surface of the snowballs. Press or roll the cookies in the coconut to coat and leave to set. Store in an airtight container or cookie jar and eat within 1 week.
Southern Lady Magazine
Recipes reprinted from Christmas Cookies to Make and Bake with permission from Ryland Peters & Small. Published by Ryland Peters & Small, Christmas Cookies to Make and Bake retails for $16.95 and is available at booksellers nationwide.

Photography Credit: Ryland Peters & Small