My love of baking started when I helped my Mother bake cookies at Christmas time. Since then, I’ve never stopped baking cookies for Christmas. Baking isn’t very hard, and I am always amazed when people say I don’t like to bake. What’s not to like, sugar, butter, chocolate, all those beautiful ingredients in one place. Baking is exact; you need to measure the correct ingredients and follow the recipe, especially if you’re a beginner. Once you get some experience with baking, you can add your personality. Christmas cookies make lovely personal gifts to share with family and friends. And so many beautiful boxes, bags, and tins can be used as containers for your cookie gifts.
Here are a few tips that will help novice bakers. Read all the recipes before you start and assemble everything you need. Do any preparation before you start; if the recipe calls for chopped nuts, chop and set aside; eggs separated, the same thing. This will make the flow of baking so much easier. Only use unsalted butter. I love Cabot; it’s made in Vermont by the cheddar people; I’m not sure if this butter is available outside New England. The first time you try a recipe, always bake for less time than the recipe calls and add additional minutes if needed. Unless your oven is calibrated perfectly, and even then, ovens do bake differently. Nothing is worse than over-baked cookies, cakes, etc. Dry is not good!
At Christmas, I just start baking cookies and stop when I don’t have any more time left. I have so many recipes and cookie cookbooks, and I keep buying more; I just can’t help myself. I try out one or two new cookies each year to see if I can find another favorite for my holiday tradition. The two recipes I have included below are some of the first cookies I make with my mother. These cookies are fundamental and easy to make. Out of tradition, I make them every year, and I want to share them with you.
Sandies are wonderful cookies to make a few weeks ahead of time because they keep very well.
1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons water
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup confectionery sugar- for rolling cookies after baking
Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and water. Add flour and mix well. Stir in pecans. Shape into small balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325 F for 20 minutes. Remove. Cool slightly. Roll in confectioner’s sugar
An easy way to do this is to put sugar in a plastic bag, add 3-4 cookies, and gently shake around to coat the cookies. Or you can put sugar in a bowl and roll around to coat it.