By Robin Mull
The sweet aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon is common throughout our homes leading up to Christmas. These magical scents bring us back to the memories of our childhood or put us in the mood to bake delicious new memories.
It’s an important holiday tradition for Monsignor Raymond E. Riffle, Vicar General and rector of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg. He gathered his beloved great-nephews and great-niece into the kitchen at the rectory for a memorable Christmas cookie-baking session.
The faces of 8-year-olds Joseph Carpenter and Tommy Boyer, 7-year-old Anna Carpenter, and 5-year-old Jesse Boyer reflected the joy of the season as they spent a cold December morning in the warmth of the rectory kitchen.
The room was full of smiles and giggles as they rolled cookie dough and cut out heart-shaped cookies, then decorated with icing and chocolate morsels. All four anxiously waited for the oven timer to signal that they were able to sample a few of the sweet treats.
Cookies symbolize the spirit of giving and are a bitesize emblem for generosity, solidarity and seasonal joy.
Baking Christmas cookies is a long-standing holiday tradition that many take on weeks or months before the hustle and bustle of parties, meal preparation and more.
As you spend time celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior, with your family and friends this Christmas season, take a moment to enjoy the scents, smiles, laughter and joy the days and nights bring … creating memories that last a lifetime.
(Scroll down for recipes)
Heavenly Father, thank You for all we have in our lives. We are especially grateful this time of year, as we reflect on Your provision, all You have given us – and the love You have placed in our lives.
Thank You for Your love and guidance. In the name of Your son Jesus,
Peanut Butter Christmas Mice
Total Time: Prep, 35 minutes plus chilling; bake, 10 minutes/batch plus cooling
Yield: About 5 dozen
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- Peanuts, split in half
- Brown m&m’s minis
- Miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- Black shoestring licorice, cut into 2-inch pieces
Beat peanut butter, butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda; graduallybeat into peanut butter mixture (dough will be soft).
Refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; taper one side to resemble a mouse. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Add peanuts for ears, m&m’s for noses and chocolate chips for eyes.
Bake until set, 8-10 minutes. Immediately insert licorice pieces into warm cookies for tails. Remove from pan to wire racks to cool.
Santa Sugar Cookies
Total Time: Prep, 1 hour plus chilling;bake, 10 minutes/batch plus cooling
Yield: About 4 dozen
Ingredients for cookies:
- 1½ cups butter, softened
- 1½ cups shortening
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 4½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 6¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- 1½ tsp. cream of tartar
- 1½ tsp. salt
Ingredients for frosting:
- 2 cans (12 ounces each) whipped vanilla frosting
- 2 tbsp. butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Brown and red m&m’s minis
- Red colored sugar
- Red jimmies
Cream first four ingredients until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Divide dough in half; shape into disks. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate until firm enough to roll, 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3½-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until firm, 8-10 minutes (do not overbake). Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.
For frosting, beat canned frosting, butter and confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Cut a hole in the tip of a pastry bag or corner of a food-safe plastic bag; insert 16 star tip and fill with frosting. Placing hearts point side up, use a small amount of frosting to attach brown m&m’s for eyes and red m&m’s for noses. Use remaining frosting to pipe hats, beards and mustaches. Sprinkle hats with red sugar; add jimmies for mouths.