This past Christmas, my sister asked, “Do you remember that time we were both drinking wine coolers and icing Christmas cookies?” I drew a complete blank. Wine coolers? Me? I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy a Zima back in the day. (Was Zima a wine cooler? Remember Zima? Yes, you do!) But my sister was talking about Bartles and Jaymes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never drank an entire one of those dudes. But her memory is better than mine, and in my family we have a pretty epic Christmas cookie tradition, so I chalked up my memory trouble to having a toddler and my brain prohibiting me from remembering drinking a wine cooler.
Our Christmas cookie tradition isn’t epic in that we go crazy with cookie cutters or fillings and sprinkles. Our cookies aren’t even that different from cookies you’d make any old day of the week. We go for chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin and there’s usually a wild card cookie, like dark chocolate espresso. There were also laborious and ill-fated attempts at making lemon curd squares once (damn you Mrs. Fields and your complicated recipe). The tradition is really about one type of cookie: the icing cookies. We ALWAYS have these cookies.
The cookie part of the icing cookie isn’t that remarkable. It’s really about the icing. The icing isn’t even that remarkable either, really. It’s a standard buttercream, as in the buttercream recipe that’s on the side of the Domino’s powdered sugar box. Icing the icing cookies is what makes these cookies so epic; it’s a big f-ing deal. Who’s going to help ice? How many knives do we need? But more importantly, what color will the icing be?! We always do two colors and for the longest time we had pink and mint green icing at Christmas since those little food coloring bottles that come in the box with the Easter eggs on it don’t have enough pigment to produce a true red and green hue. But the spirit of Christmas is infused in these cookies. At some point, however, we decided to mix it up, and now we have a family discussion about what color the icing should be. I’m not joking. This is serious business. There have been Tiffany blue cookies and plain white, there have been mint green and plain white, and sometimes we kick it old school and do the pink and mint green combination. Sure, we could get gel food coloring to get more brilliant colors, but those can make the buttercream taste weird and stain your teeth worse than red wine.
Speaking of red wine, let’s get back to the alleged wine cooler drinking incident. I know there was one time that my sister and I were icing cookies and we could. not. stop. laughing. I have no idea what we were talking about and what was so damn funny, but we were laughing our asses off. After my sister brought up the wine cooler incident and we went back and forth on the details, I realized we were remembering the same occasion, only I remember drinking wine. It was my word against her’s. Family stories like this have a way of coming back around, though, and there’s usually some shred of evidence that proves someone wasn’t drinking a wine cooler.
Cut to later in the evening when my mom and I were poking around the basement for something and we stumbled upon a box my parents had put together for me of, let’s just say, everything from my childhood, which included PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE that I wasn’t blocking a memory or suffering amnesia. There in the box of arts and crafts from elementary school, report cards that showed I wasn’t the brightest little darling in my early days, and my baby book that documented my parents giving me pureed green beans when I was just 2 months old (WTF, 1979 parents?!), there was a photo of the very occasion my sister brought up. A little gift from the Christmas gods. I took a picture of the photo and texted her: “Looks like only you were drinking a wine cooler, friend!” I’m obviously drinking WINE.
Judging by the picture, I would say it was the early 2000s. Also, as I mentioned, this is a picture of an honest-to-God, hard-copy photo. This picture was taken in olden times. My parents hadn’t updated their dining room decor from my college days. My sister and I look super young, and based on my clothing, I was probably in grad school. It was Christmas time, but clearly it was a very warm Virginia Christmas. I’m not sure what’s going on with my right hand and why it looks like I’m missing a finger, but here it is: PROOF that I wasn’t drinking a wine cooler.
Want to create your own icing cookie memories (be sure to take pictures!)? Here’s the recipe:
1 C. butter
2 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
5 C. flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract (OR might I suggest almond extract. Trust me. Yum!)
1 C. sour cream OR yogurt OR buttermilk (buttermilk, if you’re on the fence)
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, baking soda and sour cream, mix well. Add remaining ingredients gradually. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Easy Peasy.
Icing (you can choose whatever two colors you want!) (from the Domino’s Confectioners Sugar box)
3 3/4 C. – (1 lb. box) Confectioners Sugar
1/2 C. butter (1 stick), softened
3 to 4 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract (you can do almond extract, but I suggest 1/2 tsp. almond, 1/2 tsp. vanilla)
In a large bowl with electric mixer at low speed, combine sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until creamy. If desired, add more milk until frosting is spreading consistency.
Make sure the cookies are cool before you start icing! Have fun!