In Austria, Santa does not deliver presents. They are delivered on Christmas Eve by Christkind (Baby Jesus). He flies in through the window and delivers presents - AND, get this! - your decorated Christmas tree too. My in-laws tell me of their trees decorated with nuts, apples, oranges and real candles! (Oh my fire hazard!) When we visited them last Christmas, my mother in law had Evie help us make candies wrapped in shiny foil paper to use as ornaments on the tree. It was fun to do and nice to be a part of a tradition from my husbands past. As you know, things are done a little differently here in the US.Nonna Tell Me A Story. It was written by acclaimed chef and author, Lidia Bastianich. In it, Nonna Lidia gathers with her 5 grandkids and tells them about her Christmases as a child. How they would decorate a small juniper bush with items they would save throughout the year for holiday decorating. Apples and oranges tied onto the tree. Wreaths made of figs and bay leaves. Candies wrapped in shiny paper, glimmering in place of modern lights. The book is really very special and we've been reading it since Halloween.
These cookies are super quick and easy to make. As with all our cookies this month, Evie enjoyed measuring the flour and cutting the cookies. I loved how the cookies kept their shape. Maybe in the new year, I'll try my hand at a decorate sugar cookie and use this recipe. It seems to hold up well.
And they are delicious, too. Liam was very quick to run to the tree and grab and ornament off to eat it. Part of the fun with a tree decorated with treats is eating it, right? Even Lidia talks about sneaking chocolates off the tree and putting small pebbles inside the shiny papers, so as not to be caught!
I've longed for a way to incorporate my husbands traditions with my own. But not wanting to wait until Christmas Eve to put up our tree, I haven't known how to do that. I really love going as a family to get our tree and decorating it together. This might be a great new tradition that allows all of us to get a little taste of Christmases past. (Without having to hide a 6 foot tree from two kids before they see it on Christmas Eve! I give a lot of credit to my husband's family and friends who pull this trick off every year!)
Simple Sugar Cookie Ornaments
recipe courtesy of Nonna Tell Me A Story, by Lidia Bastianich
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well, scraping the sides. Add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. It may be crumbly, but it will come together once chilled. Divide into 4 parts, shape into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll one disk of dough out at a time on a well floured work surface to 1/8"thick. Cut out circles with a 2" round cutter and place them on baking sheets. Use a 1" round cutter to cut the centers out, so that they can be tied with ribbon to hang on the tree. Decorate with colored sanding sugar. I had bought multi-colored non-pariels to use, but they didn't stick to the cookies that well. The sanding sugar worked best. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes until they are golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and cook on a wire rack.