This post is a part of the 31 Days to a Handmade Christmas series.
Christmas is a time of the year that is rich with tradition. The simple traditions and rhythms of the season connect each year to the ones before like pearls on a string. From the same stockings hung with care to the same jazzy clarinet serenading us with carols to the same cookies that we bake for friends and family.
As kids, there are traditions that you just know you will carry on into your adulthood and carry on with your own children. Every year there will be shaking of presents, sleuthing to guess the hidden contents. There will be aimless drives through beautiful neighborhoods bedecked with garlands of lights and gaudy inflated holiday characters.
Then there are also the traditions you swear you will not carry on when you are a kid. How frustrating it used to be to wake up on Christmas morning and have to wait hours until the grown-ups had finished blowing out their hair and prepping their faces for the barrage of gift-opening photographs. To be fair, as an adult now, I do my share of face-prepping too. But I have not yet forgotten the eager impatience to get the festivities started and so I try to temper my desire to not look like the ghost of Christmas past with the very real childhood urgency of the morning.
One tradition I am very happy to pass on is making multiple batches of frosted tea cakes.
As a child we did this every year without fail. And only at Christmastime. Rows upon rows of cookies lined the counter as they cooled, while my brothers and I set up stations at the kitchen table for icing and sprinkling. Admittedly, we often wanted to quit because after icing the fiftieth cookie, we were on the third time through listening to Charlie Brown Christmas and the fun had long worn off. But we were not allowed to quit. The cookies needed to be ready to be gifted to family and neighbors.
My kids aren’t quite ready to be enlisted to the very end, but I did let them practice their icing skills this weekend after we baked cookies. And our cookies look a little different than they did growing up. No longer pink, yellow, and blue, we stuck to the natural white color of the icing since I don’t have any food coloring in the house.Print
Frosted Tea Cakes
- Category: cookie
- 1 C butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 C sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 – 2 C powdered sugar
1. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed for two to three minutes until well-incorporated and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour. Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
2. Cover mixing bowl and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. Roll a rounded tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Flatten slightly.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies begin to darken. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Repeat rolling, flattening, and baking the remaining dough.
5. Make the icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese on medium speed. Turn the speed down to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. (Taste the icing and adjust the amount of powdered sugar based on desired sweetness). Once the powdered sugar is added, return the speed to medium and blend until the icing is smooth and creamy. If you want colored icing, divide the icing into bowls and add food coloring.
6. Once the cookies are cooled, ice the cookies. If you want sprinkles, add the sprinkles right away while the icing is wet. The icing will harden after a few hours.