Baking and cooking are not on the list of my talents...Martha Stewart of the kitchen I am not! In fact, my husband does almost all of the holiday cooking. I do the house-fluffing, tree-trimming, gift-buying and wrapping...basically everything EXCEPT the cooking.
Years ago, though, I came across a recipe for "Night Before Christmas Mice" cookies in a magazine. Our kids weren't young at that point, but these cookies really appealed to me because my daughter danced annually in The Nutcracker ballet. If you are familiar with the story line, you know that the Prince battles the Mouse King, along with his corps of mice. So, in my daughter's and my mind, the "Night Before Christmas" mice quickly became Nutcracker mice...and a tradition began.
These cookies are not only fun to make, but also delicious! Here is the recipe if you'd like to add them to your holiday festivities. (Actually, they'd be fun to make any time throughout the year.)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1/4 tsp salt
Decorations: sliced almonds, shoestring licorice, cinnamon red-hot candies, prepared icing
1. Preheat oven to 325F. In medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, cream first 3 ingredients. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa and salt; sift over butter mixture. Reduce speed to low; beat until incorporated.
2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; form balls into elongated egg shapes. Pinch 1 end of each into a slight point for mice heads. Place on ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Carefully insert 2 sliced almonds per mouse in the pointy end for ears. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until just set. Do not overbake.
3. While cookies bake, cut licorice into desired length for tails. Immediately after baking, insert tails at the rounded ends of mice. Remove to wire racks to cool. Then attach red-hot candies with icing for noses and pipe dots of icing for eyes.
My daughter is 26 and married now, but that hasn't stopped her from wanting to make these cookies. In fact, this year I put together a gift of mouse cookie ingredients and the recipe so that she can carry this fun tradition into her new family. Maybe someday my (hoped-for) grandchildren will help their mom in the kitchen...while nibbling on mouse ears and tails :)
Sharing with: Cozy Little House, StoneGable, A Stroll Thru Life, Domestically Speaking, Ivy and Elephants, French Country Cottage, Shabby Art Boutique, Rustic & Refined, Between Naps on the Porch, Dwellings the Heart of Your Home, Lamberts Lately