It’s easy to get swept up in the bustle of the holiday season. We have checklists of presents to buy, parties to attend, cookies to bake, cards to send… the list goes on. Advertisers do their best to convince us that the season is about Santa, Rudolph, and the Grinch. We listen to holiday music as we sip hot chocolate and decorate our Christmas trees. But amidst all these activities, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of the season.
I received a gentle reminder when I opened an email from my mom with a link to an Advent plan that her church was using this month. It’s called Rediscovering the Christmas Season, and it features reflection questions and action steps that help you focus on Christ every day between December 1 and Christmas. The nifty thing about this program is that you can have it send emails directly to your inbox each day, which is what I’ve opted to do. It’s a nice way to stay grounded throughout December and not let yourself get swept completely away into the world of sugarplum fairies.
For most of us Christmas is probably a mixture of celebrating the birth of Christ intermingled with other things that make the season special for us. Things like gifts under the tree, lights in the windows, snow in the yard, and turkey dinners with family and friends. Holiday cookies have always been something that signaled the Christmas season for me. Enjoy making these sugar cookies with jam featured for the fourth day of Christmas, and take a little time to think about what the meaning of the season is for you.
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peach preserves
Sliced almonds, for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Use your finger or an instrument of similar size to make a well in the center of each cookie. Fill the hole with 1/2 teaspoon of preserves.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks. Once cooled, garnish with sliced almond and confectioners’ sugar.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
Getting the perfectly baked sugar cookie is an art in itself. Rotate your baking sheets 180 degrees, halfway through the baking time. Baking on the center rack is best, but if you are using multiple oven racks, switch the position of the sheets, moving top to bottom, bottom to top. Both steps will help the cookies brown evenly and help to prevent over-browned edges.