I have a very large collection of cookie cutters. Over the years I have collected numbers and alphabets. I can make cookies in the shapes of dreidls and lambs and witches and bats, a map of the USA, scissors, cars, dinosaurs, at least 50 other shapes. I don’t always use these cutters, some I haven’t used at all. I think the pull is just the knowing that I am ready for anything cookie-wise. One year, I made 1000’s of cookies in the zip code 13209/13219 for the opening of a post office. My prize cutters, I never use. They are the old red plastic circus animals that my mother used when I was a tiny little thing. Those hang in my kitchen for memory’s sake.
I am not the constant baker I make myself seem, it’s just that these cookies mean that much to me. They’re called Moravian White Christmas Cookies. They are a delightful, soft (when made properly) sugar cookie with just a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. To me, they are magic in the making. When I was very young, my mother made them at all different times of the year in the shapes of circus animals. As I got older and she went to work, they became mainly Christmas cookies, bells and stars and trees and Santas, an occasional reindeer (if you could keep the delicate legs on when you took it off the pan). My absolute fondest Christmas memory is taking a day or two off from whatever else my young life held and making those cookies with Mom. Sometimes, it took two days to bake and then decorate them. We made dozens of other cookies together too, the time-consuming, fussy, difficult types, made only at Christmas, but the cutouts were the ones I enjoyed making the most.
When my own sons came along, we carried on the tradition. Over the years, as they got older, they went from cutting out the cookies and decorating them, to wandering into the kitchen to decorate one or two of the cookies, to just a sneak attack on the finished product. Nowadays I usually make the cookies all by myself to have them ready when they come to visit for the holidays. I’m never alone when I make them though. Mom is there in the kitchen with me and the boys all wander in and out as I work, wether they realize it or not. You’d be surprised how full and happy a roomful of Christmas cookies and memories can be. So without further ado, here is the best Christmas cookie recipe ever.
Moravian White Christmas Cookies
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups flour
These can be made ahead and frozen before frosting.
Cream the butter and the sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg and then the flour. Mix well. Chill the dough overnight. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness on a well floured board. I find that rolling out 1/2 of the dough at a time and leaving the first half in the refrigerator works best. Cut out in your favorite holiday shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. To check the cookies, gently pick one up. If the bottom is dry and just starting to turn light golden, they’re perfect. It is best not to overcook these, they get quite hard. Leave them on the pan for just a minute or two to make transferring them easier. When cool, frost with your favorite frosting and decorate to suit your fancy. Here is the buttercream recipe I use.
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Mix the sugar and cinnamon with the butter. Add the vanilla and gradually the milk. Stir until creamy with a consistency that will spread easily, but not run