Friday, February 11, 2011

Christmas Cookies

My mom makes wonderful cookies, and I have been using her recipe for a long time.  The frosting, however, is mine, although I am sure many people use it, if not something similar, since it is simple and straightforward.  Beautiful cookies, a lot of fun, and something to do with the kids!

Mama's Cookie Recipe
1 C. butter
1 C. sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 C. flour
2 T. orange juice
1 T. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder

Note: When doubling recipe, double everything, except use 4 - 4 1/2 C. flour. 

Mix all ingredients together, refrigerate overnight.

Use any of your favorite cookie cut-outs!  Roll out at 1/4 of an inch or less.  This all depends on your favorite thickness of cookies.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

Leave overnight to cool before frosting.

Powdered Sugar

Pour some powdered sugar in a bowl.  Add a little milk, mix together.  Add a little more, mix, until you get the consistency you want (which should be enough to be a liquid, but not too liquidy to constantly fall off the cookies when they are sitting on the cookie racks).  It does take time to figure out the consistency you like.  Usually, my first cookie is my test, and I modify the frosting consistency from there.  Remember, if you are looking to add

Dip the cookie in the frosting.  Move around a little bit.  Flip, let the frosting move around while you are still holding it.  If all is good, place and leave on a cookie rack.  Repeat with the rest of the cookies.

Leave overnight to make sure the frosting sets.

Chocolate Piping
Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Melt the chocolate in the double boiler.  If you decide to add butter or anything, understand the chocolate will probably never set well.  Even after a week, it broke and got smooshed.
Use flavors and colors as you desire.  I have been using almond flavoring for my base, then piping with chocolate for the bells and stars.  Or, I used peppermint flavoring for my stockings (red), then regular for the white tip portion (use a piping sleeve and experiment with shapes).  I have used raspberry flavoring for the stockings in the past, but have found more people like the peppermint.  I used no flavoring for the Christmas trees. 

I use the wide piping attachment for the stocking top and pour it in 2 layers (one above the next).  I can give more detailed steps if the request is there. 

So I made 4 different types of cookies this year:

Christmas Stockings: Peppermint flavoring (taste with every dollop of is all to taste) for the red (red food coloring: add a few drops at a time until the color turns the shade of red you want).  No flavor for the white.  Piping for the white was the wide shape, starting at the top, drawing longways in rows, 2 rows for the size of my cookie.

Bells: Yellow food coloring, same as above.  I have used banana flavoring, but I have found the almond is most popular.  Use single dot piping attachment, thin lines around the bell, with a thick dollop of chocolate for the bottom if you want.  I ran out of chocolate, or I would have :-)

Stars: No food coloring.  I used almond flavoring.  Use single dot piping attachment, thin lines around the star, with a thick dollop of chocolate at each tip.

Christmas Trees:  Green food coloring.  No flavor.  Yellow food coloring for the strings across the tree using the single piping attachment.  Red hots for the "ornaments".

This is a long process.  I love it, but it takes a long time...minimum of three days, with all the overnights you have to wait for!  But I love it, it is a Christmas tradition; I hope it becomes one for you, too!


The most popular and most common food made is the varenyk, or perogi, as most of you know them.  The varenyk is actually from the root to boil, or "varyty", hence, varenyky.  This dish is very common in the Ukrainian community, and very common during the holidays.  I found my recipe from a blog that I received from Facebook: 

It was similar to what my mother would make.  It was fantastic, easy (as easy as varenyky could be :-)), and fun!  Most all of the recipe would be in your pantry, except maybe the potato? 

This was the first holiday we invited my in-laws to, and it was great...yes, I am late...too many recipes, not enough time!!!

Varenyky Dough

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix everything in a KitchenAid.  Roll it out as you would cookie dough.  It may be difficult...actually it will probably be difficult, as it likes to snap back while you are rolling...stay with it, you are doing well!  Once you have rolled it out to about 1/4 inch, if not less, take a round cookie cutter or large glass and create round pieces.

Varenyky Filling

Mashed Potatoes (only the potatoes, nothing else)
1 T. butter
1 T. milk
Salt and Pepper

Take the dough, put approximately 1 T. of filling in the middle and pinch the edges to make a half moon shape.  Make sure they are as well put together as possible.  It is possible that you will have a few that open up in the water when they are boiling...don't be sad, it happens...I was happy that it only happened for about 10% of the total that I made...that was FANTASTIC!!!

Once you make the varenyk, place them in a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper...this is very important...otherwise, they can stick, and then you lose a lot more than 10%...if it is cold, put them outside until they are frozen...otherwise, put them in the freezer.  Once frozen, you can keep them on a freezer bag and keep for weeks...