Shelley Gabert, HER Magazine
My mother, Judy Bochard, is a great cook and baker, which spoiled me for life. As I grew up, I learned that sadly not all mothers have this gift. Living far away from home, I always looked forward to returning to California, Missouri for the holidays to eat her stuffing recipe and all her other seasonal goodies.
My brother, sister and I love her drop sugar cookies. These light, cake-like delights were so addictive and tasty. My mom used to ship an entire batch of the cookies to my brother when he lived in Rome, Italy, and Cairo, Egypt and he couldn’t be home for the holidays.
My mom also made these delicious, melt-in-your-mouth pastries on Christmas morning. The aroma of these coffee cakes baking in the oven makes my heart warm and my mouth water. The recipe came from my Grandma Opal Zimmerman, then to my mother and now to me, making them extra special.
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water for 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and beat with mixer. Dough will be soft. Cover with damp cloth and refrigerate overnight.
In morning, punch down dough and roll immediately into large circle. Cover with crumb mixture and divide into four triangles. Roll from long end to center, keeping crumbs tucked into roll. Place the four crescents on greased cookie sheets. Slit diagonally through tops. Let rise 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Bake at 350 degrees for ½ hour or until golden brown.
Make icing by beating all ingredients until smooth. Spread on icing while warm.
Joan Fairfax, Chez Monet
Whatever you call them—snowballs, Mexican wedding cakes or Italian wedding cookies—these pecan shortbread cookies are light but tasty. Made with coarsely chopped hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts or pecans, they can be served warm or cold.
Joan Fairfax, owner of Chez Monet Bakery, lost her mother when she was only 6 years old so she doesn’t have many memories of her. Fairfax, who worked at Gerbes in Tipton and then at the East bakery in in Columbia for 7 and a half years, eventually opened her own bakery Chez Monet on High Street. During one holiday around 20 years ago, she was at her sister-in-law Pat’s house who served these Russian Tea Cakes, a pecan shortbread also known as “snowballs.”
“I remembered my mother making these delights and started making them for my customers,” she said.
While she receives orders for them throughout the year, they’re especially popular during the holidays.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Cara and Mike Carel, Rocky Hill Cakes
Mike’s grandmother, Hilda Carel, would spend an entire day making these German spice cookies, and his mother, Betty, 87, followed the tradition. The recipe calls for a glaze, but his children enjoy the cookies with a buttercream frosting.
Before his father, Bud, died, Mike wrote down family recipes such as his father’s BBQ sauce and these “leb” cookies, a traditional German treat for the holidays. Their recipe made 240 cookies, but the one used here makes 100 cookies.
Combine molasses, brown sugar and shortening until creamy. Add egg. Sift dry ingredients together. Sift a little of the dry ingredients over the combined raisins and nuts to keep them from sticking together. Add remaining dry ingredients alternately with the milk and creamed mixture until well blended. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Roll out on a lightly floured board, cut into strips or use a cookie cutter. Bake until done. Cool. Frost with a glaze of powdered sugar, maple flavoring and a little water. Brush on slightly cooled cookies. Store in a cool place.
Becky Schaefer, The Sugar Tree Cupcakery & Bakery
Becky Schaefer’s grandmother, Lavern “Neda” Grothoff, passed away two years ago, but she had already put most of her recipes into a book for her female grandchildren and great grandchildren, including this one.
“I grew up next door to my grandma and she made cinnamon rolls every Sunday and for as long as I remember, every year we would get together and make these wreaths before Christmas,” she said. “They are simple, but that’s always my favorite.
Schaefer made these wreaths in a muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray. They always use red hots for the decorations.
Schaefer, too, started baking for friends and family and then through word-of-mouth her side business just snowballed.
Measure butter, corn syrup, food coloring and sugar into saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Boil 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cornflakes, stir until well-coated.
Using a dry, well-buttered ¼ size measuring cup immediately portion all of mixture onto wax paper or buttered baking sheets. With buttered fingers, shape each portion to resemble a wreath. Decorate with colored candies.
Angela Bax, HER Magazine
Angela Bax’s mother, Donna Schmitz, started making gingerbread houses 20 years ago. Angela and her brother, Joe, were both in 4-H then and a group of them would gather at her parent’s home in Argyle.
“We had so many kids in the kitchen with their shoes off that their socks stuck to the sticky floor because of all the flour, sugar and candy involved,” said Schmitz.
As she grew up and out of 4-H, Angela and her best friend, Michelle, continued making gingerbread houses and Schmitz would prepare the kitchen for the girls to spend a day decorating the gingerbread houses.
Michelle is expecting her first child and Schmitz hopes it could be the start of a tradition for the new mother and also Schmitz’s son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Christine, and their future family.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill a minimum of 30 minutes or until firm.
Roll gingerbread dough out on large cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the dough. Cut around each of the patterns, leaving only the cutout pieces on the pan.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until dough is firm.
Let the pieces sit on the pan for no more than 5 minutes so they are easily removable with a metal spatula.
To assemble requires:
Using a mixer, mix all of the ingredients together until the icing is smooth. Add more powered sugar or vanilla if necessary for a sticky consistency.
Using a pastry bag, cut a small hole in the corner. Roll the top of bang around your hand and with a rubber spatula, scoop the incing into the pastry bag until filled half way. When finished, roll the sides of the bag up and twist to secure icing form coming up. (You can use a binder clip, clothes pin, etc. to help secure the bag)
Wrap a stiff board with foil. Squeeze icing on the bottom of a wall and also on the bottom and one side of a side piece. Place these together on the board ensuring the corners are together and icing is touching both surfaces. Place an object (cup, etc.) to hold the pieces up while you add icing to another bottom and side of the 2 remaining wall pieces. Once all four walls are standing, they should uphold themselves. Let these dry for 15 minutes.
While waiting, separate your candies and accessories in to contains for easy access and less mess when decorating your house.
Once your walls have had time to set, you can attach the roof pieces. Squeeze icing onto the top edges of each of the walls and place both roof pieces onto them. When the top ridge of the roofs are touching, squeeze a small amount of icing between the crack to secure the tops together. You will need to hold these there for 5 to 10 minutes. Again, let them set. During this time you can start decorating the lower half of the house. Once the lower half is as desired then you can decorate the roof. Make sure that you do not put too heavy of items on the roof so they roof does not give in.
Food ideas to use on your house: