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A simple recipe for Christmas cookies, plus an award-winning novel

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting lots of recipes to try out in the holidays, along with details of books from a few of my favourite authors. So, reading, baking, and trying out delicious new recipes – what better way to celebrate holiday season?

Today’s recipe comes from Ken and Anne Hicks, who live in New York. Theirs is a fun and easy recipe for cookies (“biscuits” to my British friends :) ) that children will love to help decorate.

Thanks for dropping in, Ken and Anne!

* * *

In advance of Christmas, Ken’s mother did a lot of baking. In addition to two or three different kinds of fruitcake she made at least a dozen different kinds of cookies. Ken’s job was to crack the nuts that went into these various masterpieces and, of course, to help with the eating.

Ken continued the Holiday cookie tradition in our house, but branched out to include Hanukah as well as Christmas cookies. When our daughter Alice was big enough to wield a cookie cutter, she got involved and showed us all what can be done with a little bit of colored sugar.

helena fairfax, ken and anne hicks

 

So here is the recipe Ken’s mother used to make decorated Christmas cookies. We have the 3 by 5 card on which she wrote out the recipe many years ago. The card is starting to yellow a bit and now has Ken’s printed reminder on the front: “Cut recipe in half” which we have done in the recipe below.

 

1 Cups (200gsm) granulated sugar

1/2 Cup (100gsm) vegetable shortening (or butter; guess which we use)

1 Eggs beaten

1 Tsps. Vanilla

1/2 Cup (120ml) milk

2 Tsps. baking powder

1 Tsps. baking soda

3 Cups (300gsm) flour (UK – plain flour)

¼ Tsp. salt

Mix ingredients in order given. Roll out on floured surface to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes.

Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/gas mark 4) for 7 to 10 minutes. Makes 4 dozen cookies. This cookie is particularly good for decorated Christmas Cookies and stays moist indefinitely.”

One of the tricks of making good cut-out cookies is to reduce flour to the extent possible. You can do this by putting the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours before rolling and cutting. This allows you to roll the dough thin without extra flour. Also, remove the dough from the refrigerator in small batches and roll it between two sheets of wax paper.

When I tested the recipe, I still had to use some flour on the board in the rolling process. It did not affect the flavor. But you might want to use a bit less mild than ½ cup.

We have lots of cookie cutters. However, we always end up cutting a few new shapes every year with a knife. We also roll up the last bits of dough and tie them together in a circle like a wreath.

This year we made some colored icing and Alice helped me paint a few cookies.

helena fairfax, ken and anne hicks

 

And if you would like a heart-warming novel to go with your cookies, read KATE AND THE KID, which Anne and I wrote. It is the winner of a silver medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards for social fiction.

kate and the kid, ken and anne hicks KATE AND THE KID is about a young woman who has just lost her job and had a major fight with her boyfriend (also arising from the trauma of being fired). At this very low point in her life, Kate is tricked into taking care of a sweet but emotionally damaged six-year-old girl (Jenny) who only communicates with adults through a doll she calls “Miranda.”  As a result of an eventful night of babysitting, Kate begins to bond with Jenny, which causes a whole new set of complications with the people in Kate’s and Jenny’s lives.  This book tells the story of how Kate and Jenny help each other to heal, grow, and navigate the difficult and sometimes dangerous world of New York City.

Our contact information is as follows:

Ken Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks

Facebook Author Page
Our website

Kate and the Kid buy links

Amazon 

Wings ePress

* * *

Thanks so much for dropping in, Ken and Anne. Baking with children is great fun. I loved your colourful biscuits!

And congratulations on your award for Kate and the Kid. Tea, biscuits and a heartwarming book are some of my absolute favourite things.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about Ken’s traditional Christmas recipe. Do you have a recipe you always make for the holidays? And do you ever let your children loose in the kitchen? If you have any comments at all, we’d love to hear from you!

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25 thoughts on “A simple recipe for Christmas cookies, plus an award-winning novel

  1. I love the novel Kate and the Kid and I love your Christmas cookies, Ken and Anne and family. And I loved that the cookies were a family project. Kate and the Kid is one of the three best novels I’ve read this year. I can’t say enough about it. A definite must read.

    I make cutout cookies every Christmas. It is a big job. The decorating takes much more time than making the cookies. We also had it as a family project when my kids were home. Now just my husband and myself decorate the cookies.

    I enjoyed reading about Ken’s mother’s baking at Christmas. My Mom also baked about a dozen different kinds of cookies. We would keep them in our unheated back hall and would always have a huge plate of cookies ready to go when holiday visitors arrived. We had a lot of company over and also visited others every evening starting on Christmas Day through New Years.

    Thank you, Helena, Ken and Anne for this post. It brought up a lot of fond memories of Christmas for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting that cookies (biscuits) are such a big part of both your holiday traditions. With us in the UK it’s usually mince pies (made with a sweet filling of currants, sultanas, etc.) You can buy the mincemeat ready made in the jar, and all you have to do is make the pastry and fill it with the mincemeat. My mum made dozens and dozens of mince pies every Christmas. They’re also great for children to help with, as they can cut out the pasty shape and fill with the mincemeat themselves.
      I enjoyed reading about your traditions. It’s really put me in the Christmas spirit!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Helena, This was such a great idea! My mother made a mince meat pie at Thanksgiving along with a pumpkin. My father would have a slice of each. Why choose? He was a smart guy. (I may have had two slices on occasion myself.)

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks, Susan! Anne and I are very glad you enjoyed Kate and the Kid. We have as soft spot in our hearts for that story. We seem to have had very similar mothers. Lots of baking and lots of cookies. There is one Norwegian cookie that I will post after Thanksgiving. I try to do that every year as well.

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  2. Lovely post! When asked what my favorite food is, I usually say cut-out cookies. The funny thing is, there are two different recipes circulating among my family: the thick, cake-like kind with a drizzle of icing, and the thin, crispy kind with a nice layer of thick buttercream frosting. I prefer the latter. What kind do you make, Ken and Anne?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Heather, I think our recipe could be done thick or thin, depending on how you roll them. We tend to roll them fairly thin and either sprinkle on the sugar or paint on a sugar based icing that hardens. The sugar icing was new to us this year and we all really like it, but it takes much longer. They both disappear.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I like both sorts, too! In the UK, the thick, cake-like biscuits are called shortbread, and just have a sprinkling of sugar on. They are traditional to Scotland. The thinner sort we call “biscuits.” What we call cookies here are very large, round biscuits that are quite chewy in texture – not crunchy like in Ken’s recipe.
        They say Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow. I think the British have hundreds of words for biscuits :)

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Helena, I love the differences in our common language. It took me a while to figure out that a gate was actually a street in York. I was considering another cookie recipe that is a favorite of mine from my mother that she called English Toffee cookies. I don’t know how they are English or how they are toffee, but they are really good. Also, they are square!

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    1. Toffee cookies sound delicious! I wonder why your mother did call them that?
      I love anything to do with the study of language and find it really interesting how the American language has evolved in a different way to ours over the centuries.
      I lived in York when I was a child. In the dialect there, a “snicket” is a very narrow lane. I love that word. Now I’ve moved within Yorkshire, and here where I live now a narrow lane is called a “ginnel”.

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      1. I thought that perhaps some of the Yorkshire words had roots in the language or languages used by the Vikings. I agree that it is fascinating stuff. Maybe there a new series of blogs in that, Helena.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mmmm…looking forward to Christmas cookies. May I just add I love them all!! I remember making the dough, rolling it out, calling the kids to cut out the cookies, baking, calling the kids to decorate the 48 cookies. They come and decorate 6. I am left in the kitchen with 42 cookies (or maybe 36 after samples), to decorate. sigh…Then kids come back and eat more while I clean up. LOL..Good memories. Thanks Ken and Anne for sharing this delightful recipe.BTW, I make bar cookies nowadays when I do bake cookies.

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      1. Helena, the English toffee cookie is a bar cookie. I will send you the recipe. It is baked in one piece and then cut up with a knife before cooling. Tastes great!

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      2. Bar cookies eliminate dropping separate cookies on a cookie sheet. I like making brownies, blonde brownies , or chocolate chip bar cookies . Place all the cookie dough in a cake pan…I use 9×13 inch size and bake them. Cool . Then cut into 16 or 24 bars (rectangles) and pile them on a plate. So easy. Less fuss. Do you have brownie biscuits? Delicious chocolate treats.

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      3. Hi JQ, Ah, now I see. Thanks for the explanation. We don’t have brownie biscuits. When we talk of chocolate brownies, we mean small cakes (not cookies), which are a rectangle shape. I’m learning a lot, but still so much to learn. I remember a trip to a New York deli, where I understood hardly a word! I’m getting there slowly.

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    1. Hi J.Q, No question that you have to let kids be kids in the kitchen. I was very skimpy with the sugar frosting until Alice showed me to pile it on and mix the colors. Now it’s tradition.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this recipe, Ken & Ann. I have my grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe, much like this one on a card in her handwriting. So very special. Hey, Helena. What a lovely idea for a series of posts. I’ve shared. :)

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