I first published this post a year ago but it was kinda late for the information I wanted to share. I only realized now is the time for this again because my daughter Jena made me aware of how close my magic date of November 1st is!
So, I am re-posting it, a teeny bit later than I would start. Most of you probably won't be making 10-12 kinds of cookies, so there is still plenty of time to accomplish it all.
The first week of November is when I start baking my Christmas cookies. Yup, you read that right!
With the right preparation you can bake all your Christmas cookies in November, tuck them away in the freezer and have the whole month of December to enjoy the season.
I have been doing it for 30+ years and I make 10-12 kinds of cookies every year!
There is some prep work and leg work to do ahead of time to make sure all goes smoothly when that first week rolls around just after Halloween.
The idea is to plan, buy, bake, freeze, relax!
Here is a list of my tips:
1. In mid to late October (NOW!), make a list of all the ingredients you will need for all the cookies you want to bake. Buy a few of your ingredients every week up to the first week of November with your regular groceries. Your budget won't feel it as much when done a little at a time. It is also a good time to start saving the nicer plastic containers that store bought foods come in for giving cookies away in....more on that later. Dig out your Christmas cookie tins too! I will have a tip on how to get those returned back to you.
2. Choose a few kinds of cookies to bake each week. I do 2-3 kinds a week because I make so many. Bake in the morning if possible which gives a great sense of accomplishment for the rest of the day! Cool the cookies and DO NOT frost them.
3. Make sure to have plenty of wax paper, foil, and foil pans to freeze in. Put the cookies in layers with wax paper in between in the foil pans, cover with foil and write the name on the outside with marker. FREEZE! This step avoids disappearing cookies at the hands of husbands, little ones or teenage appetites before it's time to really indulge!
4. In mid-December on up to Christmas Day I defrost a variety of cookies as I need them to give away. I frost and decorate the cookies the day I will be delivering them. I always get comments on how fresh they are!
I defrost and decorate cookies for the Post Office clerks, the Town Clerk's office, and those that I mail out of town first and package them in a plastic container with wax paper and a bow. All those people are in my life all year and I like to give them a treat. I use the plastic containers for them so that I don't have to worry about getting them back.
Closer to Christmas I defrost, frost and decorate the cookies I will give to my Pastor's and their families, for holiday gatherings, special friends and my family. I layer, with wax paper in between, a variety of cookies and present them in one of my large collection of Christmas tins. I get those tins returned to me every year so that I don't have to keep buying them. They are getting pricey!
Wanna know how I do it?
I hand write this little note on sticky paper and put it on the inside of the cover. I have never NOT gotten a tin back. Maybe because I DO fill them again the next year for those nice people! I have had people panic when they have forgotten to get the tin back to me by January, so worried that I wouldn't give them cookies again. Somehow that makes me feel good!
Most of my recipes are either my grandmother's or the ones I have been making since the 80's. They are mostly Italian Christmas cookies. I add one or two new ones a year along with a different kind of chocolate bark or Christmas candies.
I make the traditional cut outs, gingerbread men and coconut macaroons. The other cookies I make have names like Cuccidari (Italian fig cookies), Chocolate Meatballs and Biscot.
Starting with the first picture at the top of this post and the others of the stages of baking are pictures of the Cuccidari's. They are full of figs, dates, walnuts, raisins, orange marmalade and a touch of rum wrapped up in a wonderful cookie dough.
Click on the name to get the recipe and tutorial I did a few years ago. In my house it is NOT Christmas without the Cuccidari's. Of course they have the most ingredients, the most pricey ingredients and are the most labor intensive!
It has been a labor of love for me for 30 years.
I took the Christmas cookie baking over from my mother who took it over from her mother. Still waiting for one of my daughters to take over although I am not sure I am ready it give it up...shhhh!
In December I like to finish shopping, put last minute touches on decorating, go to holiday craft shows and spend time with my girlfriends.
I can do all that and more because my cookies are done!
What kinds of cookies do you bake each year? Are you a last minute baker trying to get them all done the week before Christmas? How many varieties do you make? Do you give them away?
I would love to hear about your Christmas baking adventures!
I am linking up with these great blog parties: