It’s cookie time!
December can be pretty extra, so I make sure I get a grip early in the month on which special projects we take on. If I block time in the calendar for baking - with the kids and on my own - I know I’ve made the space for it (last year I talked about how to build baking bandwidth here), and then it becomes a fun ritual, instead of something to stress about, then check off the list for the sake of getting it done.
So to be cookie - intentional and not get overloaded, I let go of other stuff. I’m trying to be cool with the bald spot on our wreath we bought from the Boy Scouts, and I’m scaling back the efforts for my Pinterest-ready Advent calendar this year (cue my own eye-roll to self). I might actually say no to a party invite here and there (JOMO, I’m into it) - in favor of making the most of the rituals we say yes to, especially ones we’ve held on to over the years. (Because as much as I’m into practicing saying no, I still want to have a festive season. And it’s not festive unless our fridge looks like a butter fortress and the kids are covered in sprinkles.)
Another thing - I appreciate how our traditions change as the kids (and I) get older - back in the preschool days, one batch of sugar cookies with the boys was all this controlling baker could take. Now I’m less controlling and they - well, they know their way around the kitchen a little better and can stay calmer for longer. The quality of togetherness is much better. ;)
This recipe, which we featured in My Kitchen Chalkboard, is one I’ve been making every Christmas for well over 10 years - its original source is the All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett. I used to bake these after bedtime so I could have the quiet kitchen to myself, and while I’ll still make time for that, this year I think we’ll be mixing, rolling, shaping, drizzling, and sprinkling our way through these cookies together.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 scant cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 drops almond extract
1/4 -1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. In a standing mixer (with the paddle) or with a large bowl and a handmixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg, lemon juice and zest, and almond extract and mix until well-blended and smooth. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix until well-incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gather it into a ball. Quarter the dough and shape each quarter into a fat round. Score each round into quarters, then cut each round into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 4 to 5 inch rope, then join the ends of the rope to form a ring. Pinch the dough to adhere the ends.
Place the rings on the baking sheet and bake, one sheet at a time, on a rack in the center of the oven, for 8 to 12 minutes. The cookies should be golden and lightly browned at the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before glazing.
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients except the almonds until the mixture in smooth and pourable. Thin with additional lemon juice if needed. Set the cooling racks over a piece of parchment or wax paper to catch the drips. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Dip 3 or 4 cookies at a time, then sprinkle with almonds and return to the cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Let sit until the glaze sets completely, about an hour.
The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks, or in the freezer for two months.
Photos by Tara Morris.