Jesus Cookies are a highlight of Christmas for my kids. My mom bought us a Nativity Bake Set about ten years ago, and it seriously has been one of the best parts of our holidays — every year. Not only do my kids get to decorate cookies, but they get to do it while reviewing The Christmas Story.
For us it is a wonderfully easy and natural way to keep Jesus in the midst of our celebrations.
Some years, we’ve made the cookies with gingerbread cookie dough. And once we even went all out and used the cookies for a nativity display in place of a traditional gingerbread house.
The house smelled amazingly good that year as the spices from the homebaked cookies drifted throughout. Yum! This year my gingerbread was a major fail. More on that later….
So, we opted for Sugar Cookies. This recipe is one that my mom made for me and my siblings when we were children. I made it egg white-free this year by using two egg yolks instead of the whole egg. I also omitted the almond extract that she normally used in order to keep it nut free.
FishChick4 loved it when I said yes to her request to roll and cut the dough herself. I was hesitant, believe me. Efficient Mom and Yes Mom had a battle. Thankfully, the Yes Mom won — at least for one round of dough.
This is the bake set we’ve used for the past ten years. I was stunned to find it on Amazon. Yeah! I thought they had stopped making them. Our set looks like it’s from the dark ages. I’m tempted to buy six sets so that my grandchildren can someday make their own Jesus cookies.
As I’ve mentioned before, “painting” your cookies with pastry brushes is the best way to let your little people decorate. However, I dumped those during this summer’s Great Mouse Invasion and haven’t yet replaced them. So, we used knives and very thick powdered sugar icing. And lots of sprinkles.
My kids had a blast decorating Jesus Cookies this year. Here’s my mom’s cookie recipe, adapted to be nut and eggwhite free.
Recipe: Nanna’s Sugar Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar and butter. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Blend. Add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
- Heat the oven to 375°. On lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned along the edges. Cool on wire rack.
- Frost with powdered sugar icing and sprinkles. Store in an airtight container. Cookies may be frozen, layered between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.
Recipe: Powdered Sugar Icing
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- half and half
- gel food coloring
- In mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar and a tablespoon of half and half. Continue adding half and half until you reach the desired consistency.
- Divide frosting into muffin cups or small bowls. Tint with gel food coloring.