Does the word Christmas elicit warm feelings of love and laughter? Or are you instantly reminded of stressful holiday chores and feelings of inadequacy? For many years, I wondered why I couldn’t pull it all off with joy.
I’m still working on it, to be frank. But I have discovered some tricks which have really helped me maintain my sanity. One of my secrets is the Present Box. Another of the best ideas I’ve tried is “a sweet of the season”.
What is a Sweet of the Season
Homemade treats are always popular during the holidays. Whether you get hit up for a last-minute bake sale or receive unexpected visitors, having a pre-decided sweet of the season can save you from bitterness. Simply purchase one set of ingredients and put them together on one day to be prepared the whole season long.
My recipe for Crock Pot Candy is perfect! It makes a ton and saves for a long time. A couple of hours at the beginning of the season and you’ll be prepared for whatever arises.
Another recipe I often use for my sweet of the season is Slice and Bake Butter Shortbread. I double or even triple this recipe, which has been passed down through through generations of my family. The dough can be made into cookie cutter shapes, pressed designs or slice and bake logs, as in the instructions below.
Slice and Bake Butter Shortbread
- 1 and 1/2 cups butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup of sprinkles
- plastic wrap
- Thoroughly cream butter and sugar.
- Add egg, vanilla and/or almond extract.
- Add flour and baking powder (sift if you like)
- Mix until smooth. Do not chill.
- Roll dough into a log approximately 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter.
- Spread sprinkles on a cutting board and roll log over them, starting at one edge of the cutting board and rolling to the other edge.
- Roll back and forth until the entire log is coated with sprinkles.
- Wrap sprinkled dough log in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. This log will easily keep for a couple of weeks, or can be frozen and kept longer.
- You now have festive, homemade slice and bake cookies ready to be served fresh and warm at a moment’s notice.
- They can be baked, as needed, in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
- These cookies are not overly sweet. If you prefer more sweetness, sugar the surface of the cookies before baking or frost them when they come out of the oven.
- I make this frosting (below) when I make the dough and keep it at the ready alongside my slice and bake log:
- 3 Cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons milk, approximately (Using an alternative milk might extend the fridge-life of the frosting. Make sure to check the date on the carton)
- Mix powdered sugar and softened butter until it forms a powdery paste. Add vanilla and then milk. Stir to a spreadable consistency. Add milk a tiny bit at a time, if you need more, to make the frosting to your desired thickness.
- This frosting can be colored but be aware that liquid food coloring will add moisture and you might need less milk.
If you’re too busy and/or not the baker type, by all means, purchase the cookie dough. Whether you buy it or make it, whatever you don’t use can also be frozen for a few months, if it is wrapped well.
Pro-tip: If you make the Slice and Bake Butter Shortbread, consider rolling some in red sprinkles only. That way, anything unused can be frozen and on-hand for Valentine’s Day.
“Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”Psalm 32:11
I appreciate any workable ideas that simplify my Christmas chores and give me time to celebrate joy. A sweet of the season has helped me avoid last-minute holiday stress for many years. Have you ever done something similar?
Let’s brainstorm together! What recipe would you use if you were to try this idea? Or what pre-made item would you buy to have on hand?