En français ici.
I think the end of the year has to be one of the craziest times for many people. It certainly is for me, and all the more so this year with this being the first Christmas I'm spending in Paris instead of going home to see my family. Not only did I have to get my shopping done early and package everything off to the US (I hope it gets there in time!), but I have to organize all sorts of things I only participated in before: buying the Christmas tree, making and hanging decorations, deciding on and making the food (with Camille, yay), etc. I have to say, I have a new-found respect for the level of stress my parents always had around the holidays, and the ritual family fights over Christmas preparations. I think my youngest sister is actually wishing someone cared enough about the tree this year to fight with her over it - ah, growing older.
But now that my packages are sent, my tree is up (though I still have my salt-dough ornaments to hang), and Ella Fitzgerald is singing winter songs on my stereo, I can finally take the time to talk to you about Christmas cookies...
I've been babysitting for Louise for a year and a half now and she's like my little sister (on top of the three I already have, but who's counting?). Since her father was away on business for the first three weeks in December, we knew we'd have plenty of time every day to play. So we each came up with a project we wanted to do together. Mine was Christmas cookies.* The fun thing about kids, is that, if you let yourself, you get to be a kid again with them. And I admit, I couldn't wait to cut out fun shapes and decorate and eat half the dough to make sure it tasted good - not like a pastry chef or even like a food blogger, but like a kid.
Basic Holiday Cookies
1 cup butter, softened (in this case, stuck under my sweater while I went to pick up Louise from school in the hope that body heat would do the trick!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each and mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder and add little by little to the wet ingredients until well-combined. (I recommend you use your fingers at the end - it's more effective AND more fun.)
Divide the dough in half and roll into two balls (I think this is the hard part, but then I let Louise try and she made two amazingly round balls in no time at all - shows what I know). Refrigerate 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Roll out one half of the dough at a time, cut desired shapes with a knife, cookie cutters, or a glass (for round cookies), and bake for about 10 minutes until cookies are golden.
Decorate as desired. (Our materials were limited to chocolate icing and sprinkles, but they were quite yummy!)
*Hers was writing and performing a play together - actually a series of sketches. It's all written and rehearsed and she wants her whole family to see it... but no pressure.