Holidays are the best time to gather family in the kitchen and create traditions. Now that I have a family of my own I have been contemplating traditions a lot and reminiscing back to my childhood and what memories and traditions I want to cherish and share with my kiddos.
One tradition that most people can agree on is Baking! Who doesn't love a good cookie or treat?! Not only are cookies fun for all ages to make, they are a perfect heartfelt gift to share with friends & neighbors and delicious to eat! Since the Holidays can be busy (that's an understatement) make it easy on your self but preparing 1 Sugar Cookie dough and make it into 3 different cookies. The variety of flavor and colors will be appealing and impress the recipient of your little bundle. Target and the Dollar Store have adorable tins for $1-$3 that will help make your gift extra special.
Start with your Sugar Cookie Dough. I had my 2 year old daughter help measure the ingredients. Practicing scooping with measuring cups and spoons is great for fine motor skill practice and a practice in patience and being present for moms. Remember to let your kids smell the ingredients and observe the colors and textures too. I also let A crack the egg on the counter then watch as I break it open into the bowl. She can then pour the ingredients into the mixing bowl and turn the mixer on and off.
Baking is a great lesson in patience for kiddos. We made the dough, then it had to chill, then we rolled it into 1 inch balls, then chilled it again, then we have to wait longer while it bakes. So it's a great activity to start in the morning and then have a cookie as a treat in the afternoon after nap.
If you have a favorite Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe go ahead and use it. The one I posted below is pretty delicious and fool proof. Make 1-3 batches depending on how many cookies you want. 1 batch yields 2 dozen 1 inch balls. MAke you dough and roll out your 1 inch balls. Then you can store the dough in an airtight container for up to 3 days or the freezer for 1 month so you can make them as needed.
Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe:
- 1cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 21/4 cups flour
1. Beat butter in a large bowl for 30 seconds on medium speed.
2. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla mixing well. Gradually add the flour and blend until combined.
3. Continue as directed in individual recipes.
Now for the fun part… Once you have the basic dough made you can make any variation of the 3 following recipes to add variety to your cookie platter this year.
The first cookie is a Salted Caramel thumbprint. The perfect combination of sweet & salty will leave your family's palates happy. There is a pretty interesting history about the introduce of salted caramel to the States via France if you care to read on. If you feeling extra daring, drizzle some melted chocolate across the top.
Salted Carmel Cookie
- Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
- 8 Caramels cut into thirds
- Sea Salt
Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, press a well into the center.
Bake for 4 minutes. Fill the well with caramel piece and place bake in the oven for an additional 4-6minutes. Remove and sprinkle with Sea Salt. Let cool and serve.
The second recipe is one my mom has made since I was little girl and brings me right back to my childhood. If I had to think of my mom as a cookie, this is the cookie.. A little nutty, a little sweet but overall a powerhouse of bold & tasty flavors. I use chopped Pecans (and a little secret, I bought them pre-chopped from Wal-Mart, the extra $2 dollars was worth the time saved). I also love to use Raspberry preserves but of course you can experiment with your favorite flavors. If you have a nut allergy in the house, you can roll the dough in crushed graham crackers instead.
My Mom's Nutty Fruit Cookies
- Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
- 1 cup chopped nuts (I used Pecans today)
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 cup fruit preserves (Raspberry is my favorite)
Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Submerge dough in egg wash then dip into bowl of chopped nuts to cover completely. Place on cookie sheet and press thumb into center.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until Golden Brown. Remove from the oven and fill hole with 1 tsp Fruit Preserves. The warm cookies will help the preserves to settle in.
(If the cookie rose in oven, use the back of a rounded measuring spoon to press a well into the center of the cookie)
The third cookie is a favorite amongst the kiddos. Visually it "sparkles" as my daughter said. Peppermint kisses are fun addition because of the color but of course you can use chocolate kisses too.
Peppermint Kiss Cookie
- Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
- Peppermint Kisses
Roll Dough into 1 inch balls, place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Press thumb into center to create a well. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (until golden).
Remove from oven and press a Kiss into the center.
If you would like to watch a video tutorial, check out this clip from ABC30. Please keep in mind this was filmed between the hours of 5am and 6am.. NOT my favorite time of day. Today was a special day because Amanda Venegas came to visit to film the segment which always makes for a good time in the kitchen no matter what time of day.