The tests are taken, the bags are packed, and the holiday season is just beginning. Amid the chaos of ugly sweater parties and last-minute shopping, there is always time for baking. Baking Christmas cookies is my favorite tradition of the season. Of course my mom makes the best peanut butter, chocolate chip, ginger crackle, shortbread and no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookies. But isn’t that how we all feel? To me, chocolate chip cookies, even though they’re the same recipe, taste better at Christmas. Maybe it’s because the calories don’t count over the holidays? Or maybe there’s just something about this time of year when your kitchen turns into a bakery with sheet upon sheet of freshly baked cookies, bowls of soft cookie dough and and an assortment of sprinkles and sanding sugars. When it’s okay to eat cookies for breakfast – the ones with oatmeal obviously – and when there never seems to be enough to go around.
If you’re looking for a cookie that will knock the sprinkles off every cookie in the kitchen, try these Roly-Poly Santas, They are perhaps the cutest cookies I have ever made. They are puffy, three-dimensional Santas made of basic butter cookie dough (calories still don’t count, right?).
I found the recipe back in middle school when I entered a cookie contest … I really wanted to win. The Santas require a lot of patience and an eye for uniformity because each part of Santa’s body must be shaped, then attached to the others. While they take a while to make, they’re actually really easy and the recipe is simple. The great thing about this recipe is that once you’ve got Santa down, you can form your own Easter bunnies, jack-o-lanterns and virtually any holiday mascot. (Cupid might be a little difficult though with the bow and arrow.) So whether you’re trying to outdo your mom’s baking or avoiding the family altogether, these Roly-Poly Santas are a jolly good time.
Roly-Poly Santa Cookies
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes 12 cookies
For the cookies:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
red paste food coloring
miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
For the frosting:
1 tablespoon milk
red cinnamon candies
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in milk and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. With a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Remove 1 cup of the dough. Stir red paste food coloring into remaining dough to make desired color.
Shape each Santa by making one 3/4-inch ball and four 1/4-inch balls from plain dough. From red dough, shape one 1-inch ball and five 1/2-inch balls. Flatten the 1-inch red ball on an ungreased cookie sheet until 1/2 inch thick. Attach plain 3/4-inch ball for head and flatten until 1/2 inch thick. Attach four 1/2-inch red balls for arms and legs. Shape remaining 1/2-inch red ball into a hat. Place plain 1/4-inch balls at ends of arms and legs for hands and feet. Add chocolate pieces for eyes and buttons.
Bake in a 325° F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.
For frosting, in a small mixing bowl beat the shortening and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Gradually add 1-1/3 cups of the powdered sugar, mixing well. Add 1 tablespoon milk. Gradually beat in remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and enough milk (3 to 4 teaspoons) to make a frosting of piping consistency.
Spoon frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe mustache, beard, band on hat, and pompom. For nose, attach a cinnamon candy with a small dab of frosting. Makes 12 cookies.
Make-Ahead Tip: Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or store undecorated cookies in freezer up to 1 month. Thaw and decorate as above.
Alexia Detweiler lives in Lancaster, PA. She ended up winning the cookie contest, granted she was the oldest one in the competition.