Since I moved to the city, I've only had a Christmas tree once. We bought it from a seller outside the YMCA. It was a small, scraggly tree, both what we could afford and what would fit inside our tiny living room. We brought it home, decorated it with Mardi Gras beads and the few ornaments we could scrounge up.
We loved it, but it was a far cry from the Christmas tree excursions I remember from growing up. We'd get all suited up in our snowsuits, load the whole family (and dog) up in the car, and drive to the Christmas tree farm up the street. We'd pour over hundreds of still living trees, searching for the perfect shape and height for our living room. A bird's nest was a bonus; we knew it would bring us good luck.
Finally, the tree would be spotted, my parents would both agree, and we'd saw it down to bring it home. It would take a few of us to drag the tree down the road back to the car. We'd get it strapped on and we'd head home for hot chocolate.
My dad was always in charge of the lights, and he'd regret the years when we got the prickly pine tree. Last night he sent me a picture of their tree, lights on.
This recipe is certainly a tribute to Christmas. These wreath cookies, from the kitchen of my Grandma Clements, are a little fussy but certainly worth the trouble. Several may break in the process, but do not fret. They taste just as good.
Betty's Wreath Cookies
from the kitchen of Grandma Clements
Note: You do need a cookie press for this recipe. I use the small tip that looks like a star to make these cookies.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt (Grandma warns to go light on the salt!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 jar of maraschino cherries, with a few drained and sliced into very tiny pieces for the bows on the wreath
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat the mixture well. Add dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly until combined.
Load cookie dough into the cookie press fitted with the star tip. Slowly pipe cookies out into circles, overlapping and pinching the edges if necessary to be sure they stay. Add two to four tiny slices of Maraschino cherry to each cookie to make it look like a wreath.
Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until light brown. Remove CAREFULLY from the tray and let cool. Enjoy! These cookies freeze very well.