This post is inspired by Carolyn Astfalk and her Virtual Cookie Swap!
When I was growing up, we set up a Nativity scene at the start of Advent. Closer to Christmas, we put up our Christmas tree and we baked Christmas cookies–same ones every year. We also went to Midnight Mass, which I think was actually at midnight, unlike now when it’s at 10:00 PM around here. These were our traditions!
The older I get, the more I appreciate the way family traditions connect us to loved ones who live far away or who are no longer with us.
So in honor of my family, I post our traditional Christmas cookie recipes!
Warning: the temperatures and times might not work for your oven. Our oven was a bit odd and we were always adjusting the temperature/time for recipes. So keep an eye on your cookies as they bake!
Swedish Tea Cakes
(makes 60 cookies if you are precise with your cookie sizes)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- more powdered sugar (sorry that’s not a precise amount)
Combine the butter and sugar first, then add the rest. Shape into 1″ balls and place 1″ apart on a foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely. Roll in more powdered sugar!
Lemon Cherry Cookies
(Makes 48 if you are precise with your cookie sizes)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (use a real lemon)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (from above mentioned real lemon)
- 2 cups flour
- 48 maraschino cherries
- 2 cups chopped nuts (recipe says pecans but we’ve used walnut too, with equally delightful results)
Combine butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Stir in the flour. Chill for 3 hours then divide the dough into 8. Divide each 8th into 6. Make into balls (if you don’t like to be that precise, just aim for consistent sized dough balls). Roll in egg whites, then in the chopped nuts. Place on foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and press a cherry into the center. Space cookies 2″ apart. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.
Molasses Drop Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 -1/4 cup flour (note: Mom was always trying to make things healthier and used to add 1/4 cup of wheat germ instead of the extra 1/4 cup of flour. It’s good that way too)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 heaping cup raisins
- 1 cup nuts (I use whatever nuts are cheapest this time of year!)
- note: Mom also added 1/2 cup powdered milk, but I never have powdered milk on hand. We used to drink it growing up–ack–so we always had it on hand back then.
Cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the wet ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients together to avoid a lump of nutmeg or baking powder in one cookie! Stir it all together and drop by rounded teaspoons, 1/2″ apart on foil- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.
Note: I end up doing this recipe a little differently every year, whether it’s the spices or nuts, or the amounts of the flour and molasses, or whether I throw something new into the cookies. They are always delicious!
Gluten free alternative: Since we have a family member with gluten intolerance, I have also made batches of all these cookies using gluten free flour (usually Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix–my favorite).
We also make Magic Cookie Bars, cut out cookies, and peanut butter cookies (gluten free are the best), and we are open to adding cookie recipes to our list so please share your favorites!