It all started with this book, circa 1975, and this ONE picture….
Growing up, my Mama made ‘Old Lady’ Christmas cookies. Do you know what I mean? Date Pinwheels. Pecan Tassies. Cornflake Cookies.
We had one cookbook in the house that I guess has stuck with me. That picture. The mom and daughter happily baking those Christmas cookies. Every start tip point perfectly placed. That fabulous yellow floor!!! (wink)! I was SO impressed by these cookies year after year when we took out the book.
Amongst those old lady coffee time cookies was that picture (above). Don’t you love the mom’s ‘do? Me too 😉 That picture gave me glorious dreams of learning how to decorate cookies like that! The piping bags and bright colors! My mom always said she had no idea even where to start when it came to decorating cookies like that….and she loved her old lady cookies, so year after year, we made those. Mind you, Google and Pinterest were oh so far away!
Slowly but surely I discovered Wilton products and that started my love for cake and cookie decorating. The monster inside that adolescent girl is still alive today! Ha! Well, sorta. After lots of babies…there is rarely time or money to decorate…here’s a post about my passed projects.
Now, I cannot remember where my mom and I ran across this cookie design. Over the years, we altered it a bit. Sometimes I throw in a green holly leaf on his hat as well. I do know this, EVERYONE asks for ‘Santa Stars’ in our family! It’s become a tradition and they just scream Holiday Cheer!
The cookie recipe and icing recipe are ones that I use over and over. This sugar cookie recipe is so BASIC, but also so tasty! The icing is a basic buttercream that is foolproof and goes perfect with the not-too-sweet cookie underneath!
The Hesitant Housewife’s Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe
1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Dash of salt
Preheat over to 325 degrees. NOT A DEGREE OVER. Combine eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla use mixer or by hand. Do not over beat. Sift dry ingredient and add to egg/sugar mixture until combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1-3 hours before rolling for cookies. Dough can also be frozen for up to a month.
I like thick cookies. I like soft cookies. It’s a personal preference. So, if you’d like a thinner, crunchier cookies, roll your dough about 1/4 an inch thick. I like mine to be at LEAST 1/2 an inch thick if not a little chunkier 🙂 Dust your work surface with flour and roll your dough, then start with the STARS! (Other shapes are welcome too :))
Use ANY size start cookies cutter with five points Making different sizes always makes for an adorable presentation!
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. This is a must for a softer cookie that is nice and white when finished and not over-browned. Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes depending on your oven settings and how crunchy you’d like your cookie. I always bake one for good measure, then follow suit with the rest of the dough.
Basic Buttercream Icing
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract (optional)
12 tablespoons milk
6-8 cups powdered sugar depending on consistency and sweetness level you’d like
Beat the butter, shortening, vanilla, almond extract, and milk in a durable stand mixer for about 3-4 minutes until light, fluffy, and creamy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar on a setting of 2-3. Once all the sugar is added, turn up the POWER!!!! Beat for about 2-3 minutes on high speed until frosting is fluffy. VERY IMPORTANT: Dip the back of a spoon into the icing and see if the icing ‘sticks’ well to the spoon. If it doesn’t coat the spoon, add 1 tablespoon at a time of milk and continue to mix until icing is a softer consistency. This will ensure your piping bags easily release the icing and they stick to your cookie.
You’ll also need piping bags (available at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or Wal Mart in the Cake Decorating Aisle). I use the Wilton 12″ ones.
4 size 16 Star Piping Tips. Also available at a craft store.
1 size 3 tip
Couplers for your icing bags. Again, these are easy to find at any craft store.
Red, yellow, and black food coloring. Gel colors are best.
Separate your icing into separate bowls to color. You’ll need 2 cups of red (use a size 16 star tip), 2 cups of white (use a size 16 star tip), 1/2 cup yellow (use a size 16 star tip), and 1/2 cup black (use the size 3 tip). Adjust recipe as needed depending on how many cookies you are making and the size of stars.
Below are pictures of how I follow an ‘assembly line’ when making these cookies. It starts to go really fast and everyone loves to join in! My husband can’t even resist making a few of his own 🙂
SANTA PHOTO SHOOT AHEAD!!!!!
I hope these become a part of your Christmas cookie recipe box and you and your family adore them like we do!