School’s officially out for the holidays, which means my kiddo is home all day, needs a lot of entertainment to keep her busy and in desperate need of something fun to do all the time. To keep her out of boredom — and provide a much-needed alternative to binge-watching YouTube Kids — I asked her to help me in the kitchen and we got busy baking. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without baking some fun holiday goodies. Freshly baked cookies are the stuff of childhood dreams, and with Kiki being at this sweet age, I wanted to do something fun and memorable. So I let go of my type A tendencies and perfection, and embraced the mess. I let the chaos happen, and messy it was…sprinkles, icing, flour everywhere. Needless to say, the sous chef was in heaven!
We made simple sugar cookies and raspberry almond shortbread thumbprints…the only mistake I made was not reading the instructions carefully before we began baking as both recipes required cooling off the dough for one hour before we rolled it into little balls and baked for only about 8 minutes. I must admit they were undeniably, mouth-wateringly delicious and worth the wait.
I learned a few lessons along the way, like read the instructions before you embark on the adventure, Kiki has no patience; let her do the work and don’t constantly say “let me help you with this”; don’t wear black as you will have flour all over you; set the rules about not touching the oven or any other “equipment”; let her play Santa’s helper and help you with cleaning the mess, and most importantly, eat cookies together as soon as they have cooled off…after all, she only wants the icing anyway!
Baking cookies with Kiki made an ordinary afternoon into extraordinary. It was an opportunity to share time, make delicious cookies and created memories, and lots of mess. But every bite of the cookie and a smile on Kiki’s face, was worth the mess.
I always forget how busy the holiday season gets…but in these moments of togetherness and through the eyes of a child, I find myself discovering the joy and charm of Christmas!
- For the dough:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
- pinch of salt
- For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons water (more or less as needed for drizzling consistency)
- 1½ teaspoons almond extract
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon almond extract.
- Beat at medium speed until the butter mixture is creamy.
- Scrape sides of mixing bowl as needed.
- Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour and a pinch of salt.
- Mix until well blended.
- Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared pan.
- Make an indentation in the center of each cookie with your smallest finger (or thumb if you want a larger pocket).
- The edges of the dough may crack slightly. Fill each with a heaping ¼ teaspoon jam.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let the cookies stand 1 minute before removing to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
- Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cookies and allow them to set.