I love traditions and rituals, especially if they’re connected to food.
One of my favorites is gathering as many family members as possible for a day of making Christmas Cookies in my home. But not just any cookies. The ones my grandmother–who was from a small town in Germany–used to make. We crank on the Christmas songs, sing along, have a glass of wine, and celebrate the holiday season.
As a child, I remember seeing my grandmother and her sisters (those who had also made the trip to New York from Germany to build their new lives) laugh, tease, and talk in German (much to the chagrin of my grandfather who understood not a word). But, they were also making the most delicious Christmas cookies I’ve ever had, from a recipe that had been passed down from generations.
For many years, I have been the host of these gatherings, never deviating from the original recipe EXCEPT I do use my food processor to mix the batch of dough. Otherwise, the following, which I hope you will try, is the exact recipe my grandmother, great-grandmother , and great-great-grandmother used to make Christmas cookies for their own families. Enjoy!
- Pre-heat oven to 375
- 1 lb. sweet butter (unsalted), softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (mix white and brown sugars together)
- 5 egg yolks (save the egg whites for some other use, like an omelet)
- 4 1/2 cups sifted flour
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Then . . .
- Mix it all in the food processor
- separate into three or four balls and wrap each one in plastic wrap
- Put in refrigerator for at least four hours (it should be very cold)
- Using one ball at a time: Roll out very very thin on counter top (I use wax paper underneath) adding flour as needed, to keep the dough from sticking (NOTE: if the cookie dough is a bit too sticky and not rolling out easily, add a bit more flour and knead it in until it’s right)
- Use festive cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheets, one inch apart
- Beat two (or more, if needed) egg yolks and brush on tops of cookies (this gives cookies a nice sheen and helps the sprinkles to stick!) . . . then apply sprinkles in holiday colors
- Bake 7 – 12 minutes, or until the edges start to turn slightly brown
You will LOVE these cookies! Try to save a few for Santa . . . and yourself!