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The Edible Canvas of Holiday Cookies

A look at a fun and time-honored tradition of decorating holiday cookies for family gatherings or holiday parties.

One of my favorite childhood holiday traditions decorating cookies; the possibilities were endless. In the world of holiday cookies, you could have a purple reindeer with an orange Reese's Piece nose to guide Santa's sleigh. You could have a blue Christmas tree with red hots and chocolate chips for lights. In the imaginative world of the holiday cookie, anything is possible. Here are some to remember when decorating holiday cookies either at a party with friends or at home with family.

If you choose to decorate your cookies before baking them, use decorations that are able to withstand the heat of baking. This includes nuts, dried fruits, colored/natural sugars and sprinkles. 

If you choose to decorate your cookies after baking them, first apply a base that will enable your decoration to adhere to the cookies, such as cake frosting. Frosting is thick and holds designs effectively.

Provided you use a white, vanilla or butter cream frosting, you can create and combine colors–via food coloring–to produce almost any color desired. Alternatively, melted chocolate is a wonderful option for dipping cookies in or drizzling on top. 

The best part about holiday cookies is the range of possibility. If it is edible–within reason of course–it is a potential decoration for a holiday cookie.

Below is my family recipe for basic sugar cookies.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup of butter

1 cup of sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 teaspoons of baking powder

3 cups of all-purpose flour

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add the baking powder to the flour and mix. Add the combined baking powder and flour to the egg, butter, sugar and vanilla mixture a little bit at a time and mix together slowly.  The dough will be stiff, but do not chill it. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about ¼ of an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to create the desired shapes. Bake the cookies on parchment paper on a baking sheet about two inches apart.

Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 8-9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool 10-15 minutes before decorating with frosting. Enjoy!

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