We’re getting into the season of Holiday baking. Where everything seems to be red, green, shaped like a Christmas tree or looks like an elf decorated it with their tiny little hands because there’s no way in hell a real sized human could have actually made it. I grew up never decorating anything. Well I’ll rephrase, anything food related. I got to decorate Easter Eggs probably because that didn’t involve eating artificial dyes because it was just the shells. My mom even went so far as to poke a hole into the eggs and drain them (for later to eat), and then we’d just dye the hollow shells. Maybe because she thought the artificial colors would seep in through the shells, haha! So, maybe not decorating things as a kid made me not want to decorate things now?
I do have a few decorated recipes on the blog, but it’s only because I collaborated with someone else on them. I used to have a best friend and baker that worked here that loved to decorate. So she was always influencing me to be more festive around the Holidays. We made the Lemon Rosemary Tree Shortbreads together. As in I created the recipe, made the dough, and then handed it off to her. She rolled them out, cut them out and decorated them. Because rolling out cookie dough is my least favorite thing in the world! It makes me want to throw my rolling pin across the kitchen and watch it shatter into a million pieces. But, then I’d be needing it to bake pie… Yet, I struggled through every single tree cookie I cut out when I baked the Tree Sugar Cookies last year for ColorKitchen. If I hadn’t agreed to do that recipe for them I would have ditched the rolling pin, cookie cutter and colored frosting all together, and just baked the cookie dough in balls and dipped them in frosting like Dunk-A-Roos! Because that is a seriously good cookie recipe. But, I soldiered on because I made a commitment, and I do have to say they turned out really cute. But, they definitely were not worth all the work to me, because I just ate them all in a few days! But, if decorating is the fun part for you and something you love doing, then it’s totally worth it. But, for me I’ve just never got the hinkering to decorate on my own. I will admit I’ve been swayed over the years by friends, and other people in the food industry to try to get into the decorating spirit. And, trust me - I’ve tried. Because part of the joy of baking is sharing what you’ve made with others, and you want them to be happy. So pleasing other people is a huge part of the industry that I’m in. And I’ve made a lot of decorated things, and I’ve tried to share better ways of decorating that are free of artificial colors and dyes. And, I’ll even admit that sometimes things look better with a little bit of color. But, that’s where I’m drawing the line. Because to be honest - decorating just isn’t for me. And I’m finally okay with admitting it after seven years of owning my business. My name is Mimi and I'm a baker that does not decorate. Baking should bring you joy - not anxiety and frustration, and that’s all I feel when I’m commissioned or talked into baking something that’s decorated.
Growing up our Holidays were always about enjoying seasonal and flavorful things. I waited all year long for YiaYia Cookies to finally be around during Christmas time. So I wasn’t interested in any of the red and green oddly shaped cookies I saw at the market that just tasted plain. I didn’t see the allure then, and I still don’t now. So if you’re wondering why you rarely see a decorated cookie or cake from me, this is why. It’s because it’s not the kind of baking I grew up doing or was even introduced to. I don’t understand the need to color everything red, green or add sparkle. It doesn’t make it taste any better, and most of the time it usually just makes it taste worse with all the artificial colors and chalky sprinkles. I’d rather eat something ugly as hell that tastes amazing, than something beautiful that doesn’t taste as good. But I know I’m probably the minority in our country, and that’s really sad that it has to be covered in Christmas Tree Sprinkles or shaped like Santa for people to think it’s festive. Christmas isn’t just a color or a shape, it’s a flavor and a feeling too. It’s warm, it’s spicy, and it makes you feel loved. That’s the kind of Christmas cookie I want to eat.
So if you feel the need to go wild and decorate cut out cookies, I don’t want to stop you because you gotta do what makes you happy and what brings you nostalgia for this beautiful time of year. But I do want to point you to better versions of Sprinkles and dyes that are free of artificial colors and things that are bad for you. So click here to find my top picks for decorating. And go wild and make the Lemon Rosemary Tree Shortbreads or my Tree Sugar Cookies. But, if I’ve swooned you to think beyond red and green this year then find a recipe for these Christmas Sandwich Cookies below. These are what I feel Christmas embodies, they are pure, flavorful, and something you want to share with your family and friends. And that is what Christmas is all about.
Christmas Sandwich Cookies
2 sticks (226 grams) organic salted butter, softened
142 grams (1 cup) organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon all natural almond flavor (like Frontier Co-Op)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
255 grams (2 cups) organic all purpose flour
57 grams (1/4 cup) organic cane sugar for rolling the cookie dough
1 stick (113 grams) organic salted butter, softened
226 grams (Heaping 1 1/2 cups) organic powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon organic cloves
1/8 teaspoon organic Chinese Five Spice (like Frontier Co-Op)
Method Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
To make the cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, almond flavor and vanilla extract. Mix on low until you don’t see powdered sugar anymore, there will still be butter chunks and that’s okay. Add the flour and mix on low until combined into a smooth dough, it should feel like play dough in your hands.
In a small dish, add the extra sugar for rolling. Using your hands, form cookie dough into a small ball, roll in the sugar and place on the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten just slightly so they are about 1 3/4 inches in diameter and look like a round disk. Space at least 1 inch apart.
Bake for 13 minutes, edges will be golden brown. Allow to cool completely on cookie sheets.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, cloves and Chinese five spice. Mix on low until combined, then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy. Put in a piping bag with no tip.
Flip over every other cookie and pair them so they are all paired. Pipe filling onto all the turned over cookies and sandwich them together.
Store in a cool dry place, or in an airtight container if you live in a humid climate for up to 7 days.
Gluten Free – Replace the organic flour with 226 grams (scant 1 1/2 cups) organic gluten free flour blend and 57 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) organic coconut flour.
High Altitude– Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes, edges will be golden brown.