Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Classic Christmas Cookie

I spent the past weekend doing some Christmas shopping, and I am not only feeling like an incredibly organized person, I am full of the holiday spirit. Embracing rampant consumerism to a soundtrack of Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald is my favorite winter activity, hands down. All jokes aside, they don’t call this the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. But more than presents and shopping, this holiday is defined for me by food. And Christmas cookies are the centerpiece of my holiday food traditions.

Ever since I was a little girl, my mom and I have been making cut-out cookies. Christmas and these cookies are inextricably entwined in my memory. We’ve been using the same cookie cutters for 20 years, and their precious, and occasionally indiscernible shapes (a bear with a top hat?) are like old friends.

The recipe itself comes from the original goddess of dessert, Alice Medrich. Medrich is responsible for bringing the chocolate truffle to America. Her Berkeley shop Cocolat is deservingly renowned. When the Joy of Cooking published their revised edition, they asked Medrich to be their baking expert. I had the immeasurable joy of getting to attend a cooking demonstration by Alice Medrich a couple of years ago, where she cooked, and we ate, several amazing desserts. Her recipes are the gold standard of classic cookies guaranteed to taste “as good as you remember them tasting.” Thin, crisp, and impossibly buttery, coated in a thin layer of sugary icing and sprinkles, these are the epitome of the Christmas cookie, and incredibly easy to adapt to a vegan diet.

Basic Butter Cookie

Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies

16 tablespoons non-dairy butter softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour


1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons water
Food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Collect into a ball and knead a couple of times until smooth. flatten into 2 round patties, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 350ยบ. Remove one circle of dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly. The dough will become softer as you work. If it becomes too sticky or difficult to work with, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper until it is 1/4” thick. Peel the top sheet of wax paper from the dough. Replace and flip the dough over and peel the wax paper from the top of the dough. Cut out the cookies from the dough, using the space as efficiently as possible. Using a spatula, transfer the shapes to a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the cookies are golden at the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack, and allow to cool thoroughly before icing. Repeat this process until you have used all the dough.

In a medium bowl, combine the water and confectioner’s sugar. Add more water or sugar as necessary, until the icing is thin enough to spread, but not drippy. Divide the icing evenly among a number of bowls. Add the food coloring and stir thoroughly. Decorate according to your whim!

1 comment:

  1. Did you know I randomly crave these delicious beautiful cookies... mmm... the memories of these cookies...