cookie traditions

December 15, 2020

With so much focus placed on displaced traditions and all the restrictions we face this holiday season, it's especially important to brainstorm new traditions we can enjoy. I have friends who rather than having the big Christmas dinner with their children and grandchildren, are hosting a socially distant outdoor cookie exchange on Christmas Eve day. I love this idea. Another friend zoomed with her grandchildren while they baked Christmas cookies together and then had a milk and cookie tasting party. All the cousins had a blast and apparently Grandpa and at least one dad crashed the party. So adorable. Today I'm sharing four of our favorite recipes that are part of our holiday traditions. With really no one to share our cookies with this 2020 Christmas, for both the cut-out sugar cookies and sandbakkels I divided the dough by four and individually wrapped and put them for the freezer. I've been taking out a little parcel once or twice a week to bake and have fresh cookies. Every little thing helps to keep things festive around here. 

The cookie blob on the bottom left above is the dog cookie. The last bit of dough that is too small to gather up and re-roll is formed into a blob shape and is given to the dog. Everyone in the family gets to join in the fun! 

Crushing peppermint candy canes was a favorite job.

But then so was smooshing the crushed peppermint into the shortbread.

Poking the shortbread with fork tines is also fun.

I love my recipe for cut-out sugar cookies. It's a classic Christmas cookie and many American households, such as the family Knitionary, cannot imagine celebrating Christmas without them. I decorate ours with a light sprinkle of sugar.  My husband and I differ on the best way to eat these; he is Team Milk and Cookies and I am Team Coffee and Cookies. In the pictures you can see that we like ours to be over baked and on the crunchy side. If children are helping you with these, make sure you have plenty of colored sprinkles on hand! Cut-out Sugar Cookies recipe.

Every Christmas I make a few Scandinavian cookies as a homage to my heritage, but this year made only one--Sandbakkel, the Norwegian sugar cookie. They're baked with beautiful sandbakkel molds and are crumbly with a distinct almond flavor. Sandbakkels recipe.

Shortbread and is an ideal baking activity to do with children. Skills required are counting, scooping, leveling off, mixing, and patting and pricking the dough, so even the youngest can lend a helping hand. Shortbread recipe.

Finally there's a candy recipe that I make only two times a year: once before Thanksgiving and again before Christmas. It is a highlight of the holidays and when the last of it is consumed, everyone sheds a wee tear knowing that they won't see it again for a very long time. I make this recipe when I am home alone; molten sugar boiling away on the stove needs undivided attention. Candy making may appear to be difficult but it's not really and your family and friends will think you are amazing.  And you are. Toffee recipe.

Are you baking this year?

The Recipes

Classic Shortbread

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies


Chocolate Toffee

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  1. This all looks wonderful. It takes me back to baking with my grandson, who is now in college! Thank you for sharing.

    1. What a sweet memory. I'll bet he treasures the memory too!
      xo Kristen

  2. This was lovely. Your opening sentence said it all: Yes, we are all adjusting and it is a challenge. But we can do it! We are creative, adaptable people! Nothing like a few special cookies and twinkle lights to cheer us all right up.

    1. Hello Claire. I'm with you all the way. This is the time to prove to ourselves that we can make lemonade out of lemons. Not very long ago the generations before us collected metal and grew victory gardens and lived without and managed just fine and in fact probably came out the stonger for it. Thank you for your comment. xo Kristen

  3. Dear Kristen,
    This is a lovely post. I agree with Claire above, your first sentence says it all. We are also having a quiet Christmas. I like it in a way because there is no rushing around. We zoom with our family who live in different states so there is no question that we will be staying home. We are going to celebrate Easter, or maybe July 4, in a BIG way! Love your blog and am so happy when you arrive in my in box.
    Merry Christmas to you. Nina

    1. Hello Nina. I agree with you in that this December there is ZERO rushing around and that I do like very much. I love your idea of celebrating big time with family this spring and summer. Won't that be FUN? Thank you for your comment and Merry Christmas to you too. Kristen


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