Buttery cookies are dotted with bits of crushed candy canes in this holiday cookies recipe for Peppermint Sugar Cookies.
My neighbors hung a wreath on their door this weekend, a red bow and pinecones nestled in its circle of evergreen tips. Below it, they decorated their door window with the words “Happy Holidays.”
Returning home from a weekend spent with family in Connecticut, it was a sweet sight — and a welcome reminder that the holidays have arrived.
All around, signs of the season are appearing. In Bangor’s West Market Square, a 35-foot balsam fir tree was raised Tuesday. It will be lit this weekend. In Freeport, L.L. Bean’s musical tree performs a symphony of sound and lights each evening. And all over, twinkling lights, boughs of evergreen and bell ringers are the sights and sounds of the season.
At home, we’re just starting to decorate for the holidays too.
When I opened a storage box this morning, I was struck with memories of past Christmases in Connecticut and New York. On top were glittery Christmas balls strung on a ribbon to form a garland — a decoration that I made with my daughter when she was in preschool. The first few years, that garland encircled the top of a large lampshade. But last year I draped it on a vintage mannequin in our living room — and loved it there. Here in Maine, that mannequin guards the top of our stairs. The garland went right onto her neck.
A heart-shaped, hand-painted wooden Happy Holidays sign with a thin, whiskered Santa hangs inside our front door. It was a Goodwill find last November — purchased for a mere dollar or two, and spruced up with a fresh gauzy ribbon for hanging.
A Christmas Carol music box opens to reveal tiny dancers twirling to music in the theme of Mr. Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball. As a child, I watched every movie version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with my grandmother. When I open it, listening to the joyous melody, I can’t help but smile wistfully. It was a gift from my late uncle Billy — and perhaps his ex-wife. Something about it feels like inviting the Christmases of my childhood into our modern celebrations.
There’s also the Santa statue in a fuzzy coat that has seen better days — his belt needs to be reglued. Still, I smile at his nice list, which has the names of my aunt and her daughter imprinted one right after another.
There are still more boxes to open, more memories to sift through. I can’t wait.
In the meantime, there are holiday cookies to make — like these Peppermint Sugar Cookies. They taste of Christmas and childhood and memories. Sweet with whispers of vanilla, butter and — of course — peppermint, they are best made by loving hands in a cool December kitchen.
When you bake these, watch them closely. They tend to cook quickly in the last few minutes, and can burn.
Whip up a batch — perhaps with mugs of cocoa — and put on some holiday tunes. Then sit back and enjoy … it’s a perfect recipe for a little holiday magic.
And maybe pack some up as an edible gift for friends. These babies are worth sharing.
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 candy canes, crushed
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- With the oven rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat again until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the candy canes, and beat until incorporated.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. With the stand mixer running on its lowest speed, add the flour mixture by the spoonful until fully incorporated.
- Using a medium cookie scoop or two tablespoons, drop rounded mounds of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving two inches between them. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack for further cooling.
- Once cooled, these can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days -- if they last that long.