Christmas Cheer Cookies

Kennedy Eller, Staff Writer

The holidays have always had a special spot in my heart. From baking with my mom and grandmother to gift-giving and holiday parties, it is my favorite tradition. However, during COVID-19 the holidays were especially hard because we could not fly back to North Carolina for Christmas with our family. We did a family Zoom and opened presents there and after spent Christmas with my best friend and his family. There was nothing wrong with that of course but one thing my mom and I refused to let go of was our tradition of baking. When I was younger my grandmother started baking with me and slowly but surely I became an avid baker. My mom and I eventually also made it a tradition and those are some of my favorite memories. With us not going back home again this holiday season, I decided to still bake and just give them out at school. So, if you want to bake with your family, this is the article for you.

The best recipe out of the ones I tried were definitely Taylor Swift’s Chai Cookies. These cookies were extremely easy to bake and decorate. They made the entire house smell like chai and cinnamon as they baked. Now I have made these cookies before and through trial and error, I realized two things. One is that with these cookies, you want them to be a bit bigger. Make sure to flatten them with the bottom of a glass. Do not flatten it too much but do flatten it. If you do not you’ll spill glaze everywhere when you add the glaze. The second thing I learned is not to use parchment paper. I do not care what the recipe says. Do not use parchment paper and do not just throw them on the pan with nothing. Use wax paper. Wax paper is thin which provides a more crisp bottom but a fluffy cookie. Beyond that, I used double the amount of eggnog for a more workable glaze. One tablespoon does not mix with one cup of powdered sugar. The glaze is a very measure with your heart situation. While making these cookies, you should most definitely listen to Christmas Tree Farm by Taylor Swift. Sophomore Ella Sharrers says they want to marry the chai cookie and rates it a 10/10. Critiques of the glaze were that it didn’t mix well so if that is important to you, mix using an electric whisk. These cookies earned an average of 8.5/10, not including the changes in ratings.

Decorations are one of the best parts of Christmas, hands down. So if you want your cookies to be aesthetically pleasing, these Christmas Light Cookies are the cookies for you. While on the sweet side, as well as more time-consuming than the chai ones, they turn out gorgeous and are fun to decorate. I made these after school and work in hopes that they would be less time-consuming due to the quick freezing time. However, after making these, I suggest putting the dough in the fridge and then the freezer, even though it takes longer. Not only does it supply time to clean up the kitchen and prep for manipulating the dough, but it also makes the dough easier to work with. Throughout the decorating process, there were multiple issues. One is the mini M&Ms. Do not try to cut these with a knife because you will cut yourself and it will hurt. Instead, use a pill halver. They are super easy to use, there is no risk, and they cut the M&Ms perfectly. If you do not have a pill halver, that is no issue. Put the M&Ms in the microwave for five seconds then cut normally so they are easier to cut. As for the string for the lights, you have to wing it, so have a steady hand. Getting the sparkly black decorating gel adds emphasis on the lights. These are a lot of fun to make and are perfect for a Christmas party.

The ones that required the least amount of work was the vegan fudge, which I made multiple batches of. Being a family recipe I switched it up this year. One thing I did was use pink Himalayan salt instead of the kosher sea salt. The Himalayan salt allowed for the sweeter chocolate flavors to come through while the kosher sea salt brought up a more savory than sweet flavor. Junior Megan Gillaspie says she preferred the kosher sea salt version due to its more savory flavor profile. Another thing I found to be a good choice is doubling the amount of vanilla extract. Beyond that, the fudge is easy to make and is hard to mess up. The entire process took around 10 minutes and then I just put it in the fridge.

Overall, making these was a lot of fun. I got to listen to music, bake, and then make my friends happy with the food. If you still do not have gifts for others this holiday season, you can always bake them something.