While looking out the drafty windows of our new home, I didn’t think I could get used to the warmer Christmas weather here. However, as I listen to the rain drum on the deck and the wind complain through our chimney, then laugh as I imagine my husband coming back soaked from his run, he wasn’t expecting the wet weather, I shift to glance around the inside of our walls. Our ancient pre-lit K-mart tree, gifted to us from someone who had it gifted to them, fits perfectly in the corner of our living room. The TV has Christmas movies playing. Soft music plays from the advent calendar my Grandparents sent to my kids. My oldest learns how to draw snow globes during her virtual kindergarten class. My husband walks in, drenched like I thought he’d be, from our garage where presents are hiding until Christmas morning. I find a new happiness in our new, and old, way of life.
Expectations are something I’m working on, as well as slowing down and trying to focus on Christ and the reality of his birth and life. I’ve had opportunities to have babies right around Christmas and to think on a different level of Mary’s experience and sacrifice. Comparing and contrasting my experience with hers was such a blessing and something that I try to remember each year.
Christmas doesn’t depend on a snowy morning, glitter, or gift giving. Those things are wonderful and traditions are wonderful, but it all begins with Him.
To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.—President Thomas S. Monson, “The Real Joy of Christmas“
This is a recipe from my original website. A Christmas tradition that has graduated past my childhood home and into the families of several of my siblings. My oldest younger sister decorates hers with mint chocolate and green candy canes while I do mine with white chocolate and red candy canes. Try experimenting with different kinds of decorations. Don’t like peppermint? Leave it out and decorate with caramel and nuts.
- 3/4 cup (12 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 (83 g) cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 (25 g) cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 1/3 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (126 g) mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup (90 g) white chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon shortening
- mini chocolate chips
- candy canes
- With a stand or handheld mixer, in a large bowl, beat butter until light in color. After butter is light and smooth, mix in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and peppermint extract. Scrape down sides and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Add in flour a little bit at a time. If you live at a higher elevation or dry climate, leave out a couple of tablespoons of flour or the dough might not come together.
- The mixture will look crumbly and really dry, but don’t worry. Use your hands to mix and further soften the butter enough to finish absorbing the dry ingredients. The mixture will end up in a mostly cohesive ball and your hands will be nice and messy.
- Add mini chocolate chips, and mix them in using your hands by pressing the dough against the bottom of the bowl and flipping it over repeatedly.
- Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow it to rest at room temperature for an hour to allow the flour and cocoa to hydrate and any developed gluten to relax.
- When the dough has sufficiently rested, roll out into a 9″ circle between two sheets of plastic wrap. Crimp the edges as you would a pie crust and divide the circle into 8 pieces using a fork to make pin pricks where cuts would go. The fork marks will make cutting the shortbread easier and prevent potential breakage.
- Leaving dough covered, transfer it carefully to a cookie sheet and move the dough to the refrigerator. Allow to chill and set for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
- Set oven to 300 F and prep a cookie sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. The top will look slightly blistered and the dough will puff up a bit.
- The dough will feel soft and unbaked, but remove the shortbread and allow it to rest on the baking sheet for 10 more minutes.
- After resting the shortbread, cut along the fork pricks with a sharp knife. Carefully move the cut pieces to a cooling rack with parchment paper beneath. This will catch any melted chocolate that spills during decoration.
- In a small bowl, melt white chocolate chips with shortening in microwave for bursts of 30 seconds, stirring in between until smooth.
- Put melted chocolate into a small Ziploc bag. Snip the corner (as small as possible) with some scissors. Squeeze and move in a zig-zag motion over the cookies.
- In a separate large Ziploc bag, put 2-3 unwrapped candy canes. Using a rolling pin, crush them into small pieces. Dust the pieces over the cookies and add mini chocolate chips on top. This works better if the chocolate is not set and the candies can stick to it.
- Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.