Make the holiday sweet with traditional cookies


NIOBRARA COUNTY – Everyone has family favorites when it comes to holiday confections. Often, these recipes have been passed down by generations. My family, we do Spritz cookies in all shapes. We can’t get enough of those little crispy, buttery morsels. However, as my kids got older and wanted to decorate cookies Spritz weren’t cutting it. This began my journey to find the perfect decorating cookies. Edible, pretty and easy. I don’t like long lists of ingredients or complex preparation. Simple is best, especially when you throw a decorating party. 

These recipes were easy enough that my nine-year-old and her friends can basically make the cookies themselves. 

Have fun with these. They can be decorated with royal icing or regular frosting.

Perfect Gingerbread

This is not traditional, cake-like gingerbread that you read about in Charles Dicken’s books. These are gingerbread cookies. They are a wonderful cookie that my family likes to decorate, and my husband likes to eat.

1 cup butter at room temperature (salted or unsalted)

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 egg

1 cup light or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap)

2 T white vinegar

5 cups flour

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream butter, adding sugar gradually. Beat until well combined and light and fluffy (about three minutes). Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.

Sift all dry ingredients together and then blend sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Divide the dough into two even pieces and wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 60 to 90 minutes.

When the dough is done chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Working in sections, roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Place shapes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Gather and reroll “scraps” as needed using all dough.

Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for five minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Leave plain or decorate.

Easy and quick Christmas
cutout sugar cookie

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 egg room temperature

1 cup granulated white sugar

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add butter and sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract and egg and mix until well incorporated. In a separate bowl sift together flour and baking powder. Slowly add to the wet ingredients. This will make a very stiff dough and it may need to be kneaded by hand if you mixer has difficulty. 

Finish kneading the dough by hand adding additional flour as needed until the dough resembles play-doh. Divide dough into small sections and work with one section at a time, placing other dough in the refrigerator. 

Roll onto a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes or just until golden brown on the edges. Allow to rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to cooling rack

Allow to cool completely and then decorate.

Shortbread Squares

No holiday is complete at our house without shortbread. My great-grandmother’s traditional Scottish recipe is rather time consuming and I was so happy when I found this recipe that by-passes some of the rolling and cutting but still results in soft, crumbly, buttery cookies. For holidays I often dip half the cookie in melted chocolate, but it isn’t required. If you need a quick cookie for a cookie exchange give these a try. These are my husband’s favorite with a cup of coffee.

2 cups butter softened and room temperature

1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

3.5 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

In a large bowl cream butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy. Combine flour and cornstarch. Gradually add dry to creamed mixture.

Pat into an engrossed 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Pierce several times with a fork all over the surface. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Cut while warm. This is very important because as they cool they will break if you try to cut them. One cooled I remove and dip half in chocolate.

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