Whipping up a batch of cookies is one of my favorite activities at any time of the year but it is especially near to my heart at Christmas time.
I love taking raw ingredients, throwing them together (I don’t actually throw but you get the idea), dropping dollops of thick dough onto cookie sheets. Presto! cake bar thc 10 minutes later, a delicious, beautiful treat comes out of the oven as the entire kitchen is filled with a sweet aroma.
Yes, baking from scratch takes extra effort but it doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Some people like to make an event out of it. I love days dedicated to baking- it is so much fun. However, when the holiday activities gear up, there isn’t always multiple hours at a time to devote to baking. What to do when the hours are few but you really want to taste and share the joy of home made Christmas cookies?
You can make your cookies in about 33 minutes a night. It works ideally for gingerbread men and sugar cookies. I’ve also used it for chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies with happy results. Here is what the flow looks like:
Day 1: Make the batter. This will probably take less than 33 minutes. Take half of the batter, form it into a ball and place it in a Ziploc bag. Put this bag into the freezer. The other half of the batter goes into a bowl covered with plastic wrap (or placed in a plastic zipper-able bag). Gingerbread men and sugar cookies have to chill in the fridge anyways, so this ends the kitchen time for today. Make sure the bowl is wrapped tightly so air cannot seep in. Oxygen tends to dry things out and we want to keep our batter cold but soft and pliable!
Finish up the 33 minutes with a few dishes. The kitchen is clean and the batter will be ready for tomorrow night.
Day 2: The batter has been in the fridge for nearly 24 hours and needs to de-chill for just a bit. Take half of the dough out of the bowl and leave it on the counter for an hour. Then, preheat the oven and get your rolling pin ready.
Many cookie recipes call for a little extra flour on the chopping board and on the batter so the batter won’t stick to the rolling pin (or the counter). There is a cleaner alternative: parchment or wax paper. By placing the dough between two sheets of paper and rolling it out the cookies don’t absorb too much flour (causing dryness) or make a mess.
Roll out as many batches of dough as you have time for. Since we are sticking to our 33 minutes a night; you have time to make approximately two to three batches of gingerbread men. They take approximately 9 minutes in the oven. If we were quite quick with the initial rolling, we could get three dozen cookies made.
The other half of the dough can be made on night three or the following week. It can last in the freezer for up to two weeks. Be sure to give it a couple of hours of thaw time on the day you want to make them.
After the cookies cool, carefully place them in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer.
Day 3: On the day you want to serve the cookies, pull them out and let them thaw. If you want to apply an icing to the cookies, this is the day to do it. Make your icing and get out any sprinkles.
For easy application, put the frosting in a plastic bag and cut the edge of the end. Be careful to cut only a small hole. Otherwise the frosting will come out like piping for a cake- too much and too thick.