Baking cookies is a seasonal treat for the senses

One of the best sensory treats of the holiday season is aromas of spice and citrus and chocolate baking.

Now that we’re in celebration distance, let’s turn the oven on and get making some of the traditional cookie treats from grandma and mom. It’s not too late to create some for gifts as well as family treats.

We have a tradition of baking plain old cut-out sugar cookies with the kids who visit. My collection of ancient cookie cutters adds to the fun and memories.

I’m going to offer some simple ideas that children can help with, as well as a few more complicated treats. Each one has been tested by time and Santa, who always gets an offering of cookies. And he loves eggnog. Did you know that?

The first cookie is fun because of its name as well as the hands-on sensation which children can enjoy while rolling. Aunt Alice shared.


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat together butter, sugar and eggs one at a time.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, salt and baking soda. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until a soft dough is formed.

In a separate bowl prepare a mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves. Substitutions: allspice, nutmeg.

Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in spices. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. Makes five dozen. Cookies will spread and crinkle while baking.

Cookie cutters needed.

Best Ever Butter Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add egg and beat till combined. Add juice and vanilla and gradually beat in flour and baking powder till all is absorbed. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least 30 minutes. May be refrigerated for a few days if necessary.

Lightly flour a board and rolling pin. Cut dough into quarters keeping unused portions wrapped. Roll one quarter to 1/4” thick and cut with various cookie cutters. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Using a spatula, remove to ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400º for 6-10 minutes. or till crisp and lightly browned on edges. Continue with remaining dough and store in an airtight container when completely cooled.

From McCall’s Magazine
Apricot Shortbread

1/3 cup soft butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sifted, all purpose flour

3/4 cup dried apricots
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. At low speed, beat in flour. Pat mixture evenly over bottom of 8x8x2-inch pan. Bake 12 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool completely on wire rack.

For the filling, place apricots in small saucepan. Add just enough water to cover and bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain apricots reserving 3 tablespoons cooking liquid.

Chop apricots finely. Combine in a saucepan with reserved liquid, lemon peel, sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and boil one minute to absorb all liquid. Let filling cool 10 minutes. Spread evenly over cooled shortbread crust. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

The next isn’t a cookie but a must-have for the holidays and all year from Beth Merritt.

Microwave peanut brittle

1 1/2 cups raw shelled peanuts (I used unsalted dry-roasted.)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a deep microwaveable bowl, mix peanuts, sugar, corn syrup and salt.

Cook on high for four minutes. Stir and cook for four minutes more.

Stir in butter and vanilla and cook two minutes more.

Carefully remove from microwave and stir in baking soda. Will foam up. Quickly pour onto warmed, lightly buttered baking sheet. Cool and break into pieces. Takes about 15 minutes for delicious treat.

Moravian spice cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup light molasses

1/3 cup egg whites, 3 1/4-4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar.

Sift dry ingredients and set aside.

In large bowl, beat sugar, butter and molasses until well combined. Using wooden spoon and hands, mix dry ingredients to combine. Form dough into a flattened ball. Wrap in waxed paper or cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Next day, preheat oven to 375º and lightly grease cookie sheets or use parchment. Roll one quarter of dough to 1/8-inch and using cookie cutters make shapes of choice. Bake 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Make frosting:
Beat egg whites at medium speed with 3-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, adding more to thicken if needed. Cover bowl with damp cloth. Decorate by piping with a No. 4 tip for writing in pastry bag. Outline cookies or make designs of your choosing.