Dec 02, 2020


By MaryAnn Miano

The holiday season is often filled with hustle and bustle. If you’re caught up in the business of it all, remember that part of the spirit and magic of the holiday season are the scents and sensations brought about by baking. The spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice are staples in many cookie recipes. Family baking customs live on during the Christmas season. The tradition of homespun goodness keeps loving connections between grandparents, parents and children. Many people will bake batches of cookies to give away as made-from-the-heart hostess gifts.

It wasn’t until the Great Depression that baking Christmas cookies took on meaning for most families. During the Depression, children were encouraged to share with others during hard times. The idea of leaving cookies for a hungry Santa to gobble up during his long, arduous journey on Christmas Eve was born.

Many of our Christmas cutout tools originated from Germany. With the advent of cookie cutters, cookie shapes became a thing. The cookies would hang on the Christmas tree. There were now more than square or round cookies. Bells, Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, turkeys, wreaths and crimpled cookie shapes became sort after as a form of decoration. Animal crackers (really animal “cookies”) were the first Christmas ornaments.

The most famous Christmas cookie of all is the spritz cookie. Spritz cookies originated from Scandinavian countries. The word “spritzen” in German means “to squirt.” This is because the cookie dough for spritz cookies is pushed and “squirted” through a cookie press. Use your favorite Christmas shapes, such as trees, stars, Santa or bells, from the cookie press kit. Decorate with powdered sugar, sprinkles or red and green cherries. Happy holidays!




2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup almonds, ground fine

1 cup vegetable shortening

½ cup powdered sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon almond extract



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  2. Combine the flour and almonds.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the vegetable shortening and powdered sugar. Beat in the egg yolk and almond extract. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
  4. Place the dough in a cookie press or pastry bag fitted with a star tip and press or pipe out small rings onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly colored. Transfer to wire rack to cool.


If you don’t care for cookies and prefer cake, here’s a nice Christmas Coffee Cake for you to try:


8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup plain low fat yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup raisins


Topping ingredients:

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg



  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.
  3. Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan over low heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Add sugar and eggs to the butter and whisk to mix.
  5. Add yogurt and vanilla, whisking thoroughly.
  6. Stir in raisins.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients.
  8. Add butter mixture to flour mixture until well combined.
  9. Spread half the mixture in the batter into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with half the topping mixture.
  10. Cover with remaining batter and then sprinkle remaining topping.
  11. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out almost clean.
  12. Place on a wire rack to cool 20 minutes.
  13. Loosen edges of cake near pan with a knife, invert onto rack, then place a plate onto bottom of cake to turn right side up onto plate.