My grandmother was an amazing baker, and even though in the short time that I knew her she only baked at Christmas time, there were telltale signs of a lifetime past spent baking.
There was the wood-fired clay oven that sat under a tarp next to her home, and then there were the stories…
My grandmother’s baking was just a part of Christmas as the church on the hill on Christmas morning.
The smell of freshly baked loaves of cakes and bread is like a nostalgic embrace, could this perhaps be the reason I’m hooked on baking?
Baking is a cathartic exercise for me, especially around Christmas when it bears more meaning.
The first cookies I baked for the season were these Italian wedding cookies; it has many other names – Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes or polvorones, I call them Happy Christmas cookies.
Delicate, crumbly and rich, with a nutty buttery flavour, and dusted in powdered sugar, you can’t help but think of snow…
They’re truly perfect for the holidays, and smell divine while baking.
There are many variations to this cookie and perhaps why there are so many names for it. This version uses very few ingredients; ground almonds, butter, flour and powdered sugar.
Kept in an airtight container they’ll last for about a week, although they might not last that long… if you know what I mean
Happy Christmas Cookies
- 11/2 cups softened butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free Spread)
- 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (use organic, non-bone-char-filtered for vegan option)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups ground almonds (I used Trader Joe’s Just Almond Meal)
- 4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
- Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C)
- Cream butter in mixing bowl
- Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and salt, beat until light and fluffy
- Add ground almonds and vanilla extract and mix
- Blend in flour and mix until well combined
- Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
- Shape dough into balls, place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Do not let it brown
- Cool lightly, then dust with more powdered sugar