We get together at my mother-in-law's place in December every year so we ladies can bake cookies while the menfolk wrestle with the assembly of the Christmas tree. This year there may have been some actual wrestling with the strings of lights, because I heard some muffled cursing and then some muffled electrical engineering brainstorming to try and get them to work. They figured it out, though, because in the end there was a fabulous decorated (and lit) tree to admire over eggnog and cookies. And we ended up with a LOT of cookies!
We started by making the oatmeal chocolate chip craisin cookies I've already talked about. There is debate among us whether they should rightfully be allowed as Christmas cookies, but since everyone loves them we definitely had to make them. After that, we got down to the difficult one - the shortbread cookies. The recipe is a very old one from a Five Roses cookbook my Mom's probably had since before I was born. We always made them for Christmas, with Mom doing the dirty work of mixing and rolling and cutting, and us kids going wild with sprinkles and colored sugar. I always end up in the "Mom" role when we make them on cookie day - they say it's because I'm better at rolling them out, but I suspect they just want to play with sprinkles. :)
The first batch, though, didn't turn out quite right. The recipe instructs the baker to knead in flour until the dough "just begins to crack". Well, I learned tonight that it is a damn fine line between "beginning to crack" and "falling apart into cookie dust". Some of the first batch was salvaged and we were able to cut out shapes with the cutters, but after one cookie sheet's worth I just rolled the remaining dough into lumps and added sprinkles and hoped they'd taste better than they looked. This was the result:
Cookie fail! They taste ok, so it's not a complete loss, but considering how pretty these cookies are when we do them right, I was frustrated with myself for misjudging the flour. I started over with a second batch and they were perfect. I think I need to make these more than once a year so I can remember what "just beginning to crack" looks like.
The third cookie of the night was the peanut blossoms. I'm not a huge peanut butter fan but everyone else loves them, and there would be a riot if we skipped these. My favorite part about these cookies is eating the Hershey's Kisses that are left over.