Skip the Cookie Cutter This Year, All You Need Is a Cookie Stamp
As a concept, I love making Christmas cookies. In practice, the traditional cut-out and frosted holiday sugar cookies are a total nightmare on every level. The dough is easy enough to make, sure, but the rolling-out process is fussy. The cutting process is even worse. (I have always struggled to get the dough cold enough to maintain its shape when it's cut.) I always end up with edges that aren't quite crisp enough, which results in unrecognizable shapes on the other side of baking. If I do manage to get a nicely shaped cookie, the decorating process is also not in my wheelhouse. I have neither the taste nor the patience to create the gorgeous, colorful cookies that I dream of. Instead, I end up with messy frosted cookies that resemble the handiwork of a third grader.
Because of this, I typically skip those types of cookies in favor of less-glamorous options like biscotti and simple shortbread, both of which I love. I've gotten really good at making toffee in the last few years, and I'm always interested in something that combines chocolate and peppermint. But there's something about an elegant plate of decorated, obviously Christmas-themed cookies that calls me back every few years.
Last year was one of those years. I was spending so much time alone in my home, I knew I wanted to make cookie boxes for my nearest and dearest, and I knew I wanted them to be distinctly festive. I was flirting with the idea of buying some cookie cutters, which I would have surely come to regret, when I came across these cookie stamps. They seemed to promise everything I was seeking in a holiday cookie: a beautiful design without any actual work on my part, the ability to make cut-out cookies without it being a complete pain, and even the appearance that I had decorated the cookies without actually having to do so. I bought them immediately.
They are, in fact, everything I dreamed of. Firstly, they're appealing out of the package, with wooden handles and metal bases. They feel like something that you'd use at Christmas in Norway, or maybe in Denmark. But most importantly, they're easy to use. It takes a bit of practice to learn exactly how hard to push them into your dough to get all the details in the stamps, and you'll need to keep a bowl of flour nearby to prevent sticking; however, I find them to be, on the whole, significantly easier to manage than a normal cut-out cookie set-up.
While I opted for the "Starry Night" collection of designs, there are a few other equally beautiful Christmas pattern options to choose from. Perhaps the "Snowflake" designs are more your taste, or maybe the more classic "Yuletide" images? You could always start out with one set and build your collection up for next year by adding the others to your list for Santa.
I've used them on any dough that calls to be rolled out. Because the stamps are round, it's easier to punch out a bunch of cookies, peel away the excess dough, and then re-roll. If they're too sticky, put the rolled out dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes, and tip the stamp in flour, tapping off any excess. Once baked, the pattern on the stamps turns three different patterns into textural images, creating that elegant holiday cookie look that I've been seeking. Last year, I sent a lot of them out into the world bare. I also glazed some of them with a simple mixture of powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, for a frosted effect that doesn't give away the fact that I'm atrocious at any and all crafts. Instead, I seem like the type of person who easily makes beautiful things without breaking a sweat. And isn't that what we all aim for around the holidays? I think so.
This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com