Happy Holidays! I can’t believe Christmas is already here. It will be an exciting day in our house as my boys find out if they’ve been naughty or nice (they’re on the nice list I’ve heard 🙂 ). Luca is starting to enjoy spending his time helping me in the kitchen so baking Santa’s cookies was a lot of fun this year! I wanted to tie in a bit of the boys’ heritage so we made two different kinds celebrating their Norwegian and Italian roots. John still refuses to take up counter space and buy my a stand mixer so these both can be done by hand!
The first is a classic butter cookie (which I’ve come to realize butter is a favor ingredient of the Norwegians!) that remembers their Bestemor (Grandma) Eleanor, the Serinakaker.
The second is a simplified version of a traditionally complex Italian cookie recipe. We honor the boys’ GP and Great Great Gramps with our fun twist on Rainbow Cookies.
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (sift after measuring)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup, plus 6 TBS softened unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Blend the flour, baking powder, salt, and butter by hand until it’s wet and gritty. Next, add in the sugar. Finally, add in the egg and vanilla. Combine until dough forms into a ball. It may be on the dry side. Cover with plastic and refrigerate over night.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so it can warm up a bit and become easier to work with.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Slightly “smash” each ball creating an indent in the middle. (This part is great to include the kids in!) Brush the tops with the egg whites and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
1 box white cake mix
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tsp almond extract
1 tub chocolate frosting
Red and Green food coloring
Butter and flour for greasing the pans
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the cake mix according to the package. Add the almond extract into the batter. Divide batter into three equal bowls. In the first bowl, add the red food coloring until you reach your desired color. In the second bowl, add the green food coloring until you reach your desired color. Leave the last bowl white.
Grease and flour three square baking dishes. Pour each of the batters into each individual baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick does out clean. Let cool slightly, remove from the baking dishes and finish cooling completely.
Begin assembling the “cookies” by starting with the red cake first. Trim the top to create a flat surface. Spread a thin layer of apricot preserves on top, avoiding the sides. Next, layer the white cake, trimming the top and covering with apricot preserves. Finally, top with the green cake. Trim the top and cover with wax paper. Top with a baking sheet and weigh down with pans or canned good. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Remove the cake and frost with chocolate icing. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
The boys and I had a great time baking together and preparing for Santa this year. Even my little capodost, as his GP calls him, becomes patient and cooperative when in the kitchen. We loved bringing in the heritage to a favorite family tradition and it’s a great way to stir up stories and memories to pass down through generations!
Both these recipes are simple enough for the beginning baker but tasty enough to live up to Santa standards. From our holiday home to yours, Merry Christmas 🙂
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian