Over the weekend I participated in a longstanding family tradition - baking Christmas cookies, using a recipe that my dad's sister Betty (Auntie B as I called her) used and passed down to us. Ever since I was a young girl I have looked forward to this tradition every year. I have many fond memories of baking these cookies, especially with my "Auntie" - my father's other sister (Sr. Camilla) when she came home to Pittsburgh from Texas during the holidays. Here are a few photos of one of our baking sessions during Christmas 1972. I still have the same cookie cutter too! Great memories!
If you like to bake and are looking for a new recipe for cut-out cookies (you can make these for any holiday using the appropriate cookie cutters), here's the recipe. The secret to their great flavor is the almond extract. This recipe, along with many others can be found in my book, Baba's Kitchen Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes and Traditions (Gateway Press).
Auntie B’s Christmas (Cut-Out) Cookies
Ever since I was a young girl these cookies have been a “must-bake” at Christmas! The almond extract provides a unique flavor.
1 c. butter or oleo 4 c. flour
1-½ c. sugar ½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
Cream together butter (or oleo) and sugar. Beat in eggs; add vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. Mix together flour and baking soda. Add to mixture and mix well.
Let stand in refrigerator for about 30 min. Roll out dough with rolling pin on floured board. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
Bake at 350 °F for 15 minutes. Using parchment paper helps to prevent cookies from sticking to pan (or you can use non-stick cooking spray—lightly coat pans).
Frosting and Decorating
1 egg white
1 c. powdered sugar
Few grains salt
Beat egg white with electric mixer and add 1 tsp. cold water; beat again. Gradually add powdered sugar to beaten egg white and beat until smooth, with a consistency to pour slightly. For colored icing, divide into small bowls and add few drops of food coloring of desired color.
You can make these cookies for any holiday (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, etc.) using the appropriate cookie cutters.