Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cookie Baking Weekend

"Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King. Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King. Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We're going to see the King." (My favorite Advent song/text and music by Andrae Crouch)
Happy first day of Advent, everyone. I'm just home from another weekend in Wisconsin, this time for what we call Schlumpf Women Cookie Baking Weekend. As you can see from the above photo, a lot of cookies were baked. Over 1,800 actually. I am not kidding.

When I was growing up, my mom always baked lots of special cookies at Christmas, and my sister and I helped. We're not a family that has chocolate chip cookies at Christmas. No, we only have these seven or eight kinds that we only have at Christmas: gingerbread boys and girls, wreaths, spritz trees, creme de menthe balls, homemade toffee. When my sister and I were in our 20s, I lived in California and she lived in New York. We both tried to make the traditional Schlumpf cookies, but it was a lot of work for one person.

So, when we both moved back to the Midwest, the idea for Cookie Baking Weekend was born. We would get together at one person's house (usually mom's, as she has the largest kitchen) and bake all the cookies together (in double, triple, and quadruple batches) and be done with it in two short days. It has become one of my favorite family holiday traditions, because my sister, my mom, and I (and now my sister's daughter, Clare) and assorted guests (this year, my Aunt Pat) get to spend time together. But don't think this is any vacation. We work, work, work!

One of our best cookies is our sugar cookie cutouts. We made 535 this year (3 double batches) and had 12 different shapes, which we frosted and decorated. We do it assembly-line style in order. Even so, it took five of us almost three hours to frost and decorate all these cookies. Aren't the Santa faces cute? They have red sugar hats, two black frosting eyes, a cinnamon red hot candy for a nose, and a half a miniature marshmallow for the hat pom pom. That's one of the more putsier ones.

If you're looking for a good sugar cookie recipe, this one is awesome. The secret, my mom thinks, is that it calls for Crisco, not butter. They are crisp, not soft, but really tasty. I'll share the recipe, which we have been using for 37 years now. It came from my kindergarten teacher.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
(from Heidi's kindergarten teacher Mrs. Nancy Kumm)

3/4 c. vegetable shortening (Crisco--not butter!)
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour. Roll out to 1/8-inch thick on floured board. Cut out with cookie cutters. Put on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 375-400 degrees for 6-8 minutes until golden. May sprinkle with colored sugar before baking or frost and decorate after cooled.

I'll be posting more about CBW this week and sharing more Schlumpf family cookie recipes. I'd love to hear if anyone else still bakes Christmas cookies, and what your favorites are.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness!! GF, you were not kidding when you said you all do a cookie baking weekend!! What a fantastic job you and the girls did! Look out hips!
Thanks for the recipe looks good, and from the pics, I know they turn out scrumptious!

Thanks for sharing!!

patsy said...

Good write up,good pictures am saving my pictures for blog

Sarah and Jack said...

535 cookies????? holy smokes that is a lot of baking!

Renee said...

WOW! That's impressive! I'm glad you'll be writing more about the weekend....can't wait to hear more. Btw, some questions:
-How do you keep them tasting fresh until Christmas? Do you freeze them?
-Did you make all those different colors of frosting or did you buy that readymade?
How FUN! Now I'm feeling like I need to ramp up my holiday baking plans. :-)

jungle dream pagoda said...

Woa,that sounds yummy AND fun,we bake too but just barely!

mo said...

535 sugar cookie cutouts?!! Outrageous! You win some sort of award. We bought a box of toxic cookie dough from a neighbor kid for a fundraiser and it came in four different colors. It looks like playdough. I can't do it. I can't feed that toxic colored dough to my children! Especially when I see how good your cookies look!

Rebecca said...

WOW. I've been waiting to see the Schlumpf Women's cookies but I was not prepared for this! I'm having a baking day this weekend and I hope to come up with a quarter of your goodness! YUM

Barb said...

I still bake Christmas cookies. Actually, I bake cookies all year round. My co-workers have come to expect it, and if I wait too long between batches, one guy asks me if I've forgotten where my kitchen is. This week, he came up holding his stomach, stooped over, and asked the person I was talking to if she had any food. Ha! I laughed, said "shut up!" as he ran off laughing, and brought in cookies the next day. I like peppermint candy canes from the Betty Crocker Cookies cookbook, even though they take a bit of time to make.