|Christmas Cookies 2011|
|Krumkake filled with Strawberry Ice Cream|
|Lars Sucking Ice Cream out of his Krumkake|
My krumkake were not as crispy as I would have liked, but my internet research suggests that the mild North Carolina weather was to blame. I found an ex-Minnesotan/Norwegian baker in Texas online who claims that crispy krumkake perfection requires baking on a cold, dry day (and when they talk about a cold winter day in Minnesota, they mean zero temperatures or below) yet it was a balmy 68 degrees in Charlotte the day I was baking mine. My cookies came out somewhere in between crisp and al dente, like pasta that isn't quite done yet, but doesn't break your teeth. Not terrible, but not sublime either. I'll have to try another batch of krumkake in January or February, when we get a cold snap. Although I've always thought of krumkake as a Christmas and New Year's cookie, it would be perfect for Valentine's Day with the strawberry ice cream. Also, nothing says I Love You like burning off your fingerprints on blistering-hot cookies, don't you think?
|Christmas Cookie Decorating, Wayzata, MN, 1981|
When I have attempted to perpetuate this family tradition with my sons in prior years, we've been frustrated by the difficulty of squeezing the thick tubes of frosting from the grocery store. Looking at the old picture, I see that the store-bought frosting used to come in a different container that was probably easier for little hands to use. I also have a terrible time whenever I attempt to roll out any kind of dough, whether it's for pie crust or cookies. The rolling pins and I are not the best of friends. Finally, after so much effort is put into these shaped and decorated cookies, most of them are pretty ugly and I never really liked the taste. Not making any cookies to decorate would be sacrilege, because it's a Family Christmas Tradition and I can't have my children growing up frosting deprived!
|The Package from King Arthur Flour has Arrived|
|Anders drew a tuxedo on a gingerbread man with FooDoodler markers|
Then I spent a bit too much time trolling the internet for decorating inspiration -- you can see my favorite OPC (Other People's Cookies) here on my Pinterest board. I got a couple of new cookie cutters this year, a large tree with a star on top, and a set of three Ninjabread men. Lars and Anders were very excited about the Ninjabread men. It would be impossible to exaggerate their level of Ninjabread men excitement, in fact. They were downright giddy about the Ninjabread men. If you have little boys in your kitchen, I strongly recommend the Ninjabread men -- and you can get the cookie cutters right here.
|Lars Cutting Out Ninjabread Cookies|
|Anders and Grammy Rolling Out Sugar Cookie Dough|
|Royal Icing, tinted Yellow with AmeriColor Gel Food Coloring|
|Frosting Tubes Filled & Ready to Go|
There's a wonderful tutorial on decorating with Royal Icing on the King Arthur Flour blog here, and an even better updated tutorial by the same author that I just found right here (wish I'd seen these pictures of what the icing consistency should be before I made mine). I decided that the cookie shapes we most enjoy decorating are the simplest ones, like snowflakes, bells, candy canes, and stars. I liked the reindeer in gingerbread because they only needed a red nose, a black eye, and a white tail and then they were perfect. Next year I'm going to get a mitten and an ornament cookie cutter, because I enjoyed making patterns on cookies more than fussing with multicolored Santas and angels that seldom come out looking as good as the cookies you envisioned in your mind. Oh, and I think I'll limit frosting to two or three colors at a time next year, so I can do a thick and thin (for flooding) version of each frosting color. This year I mixed up red, white, green, blue, yellow, orange, black, and brown, all at once, in an in-between consistency. The frosting went on too thickly in large areas that we were trying to fill in, but was still too runny to get really sharp detail.
|My Best Efforts: Rebecca's Christmas Cookies|
Oh, and all those sugars and sprinkles I bought? We hardly made a dent in them. My favorite was the white sugar that I sprinkled on the edges of my snowman. I also flocked a blue snowman scarf with glitter. And I love how my Ninja Santa came out.
|Grammy and Bernie Decorating Cookies|
Well, you'd think that by noon on Christmas Eve, I'd be done baking cookies. You'd be wrong. I have a whole batch of crackled molasses sugar cookie dough in the fridge, ready to be shaped into balls and rolled in sugar for baking. I am also in my bathrobe, and -- horror of horrors! -- I have been so obsessed with cookie baking that I am NOT DONE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING YET!!! I have to hop in the shower, get dressed, and then go to the mall, yes, the MALL on CHRISTMAS EVE, to get a couple of last-minute gifts for a certain difficult-to-shop-for husband of mine.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Wish me luck at the mall!