Yuletide cookies for the tree

My mum and I used to bake yuletide cookies every december, and every year they came out burnt. As a child I was convinced they should be baked until the bottom part was nice and dark, after all, my mother made them that way.
When I asked her for the recipe last week, to make them in my own home for the first time, she added after listing the ingredients - don't let them burn like we always did.
So here I was, making dough with a house full of foodie friends who were visiting to have an early christmas feast. Yet another excuse to eat well and be merry. To celebrate, in times where there is so much sorrow.
I bought my first christmas tree, named him Marcus and the plan is to plant him in the garden for next years christmas feast. On sunday morning we decorated Marcus with the cookies and he filled the living room with the scent of butter cookies and pine.

Marcus the tree. Why not use the cookie cutter as an ornament as well?

Yuletide is the twelve day midwinter festival celebrated from december 21 to 22. Later christianity adapted it to the 'Twelve days of Christmas'.
It is the celebration of light - the beginning of shortening nights and lengthening days- and the rebirth of the world. Yulefires were lit - just like fires were lit at Samhain - but this time to transport the flame from the passed year to the fire of the new year. The Yule log which originally was an entire tree and not just a log, was brought into the house with a ceremony and decorated with edibles like apples and nuts before being burnt in the fire hearth. The tradition of burning the Yule log is derived from custom in 6th to 7th century Anglo-Saxon paganism which was practiced across northern Europe prior to Christianization. But I recently discovered from my friend Giulia that in Italy 'the log' is celebrated as well.

These cookies are so simple to make and fun, so the perfect thing to do with children... and bigger children because us girls sure had some fun decorating the tree with them!

Preheat your oven to 160°C
Combine the butter and sugar and whisk until creamy
Add the egg yolks
Add the vanilla and Kirsh or Whisky
Add the flour
Combine and create a solid ball
Roll out the pastry until it's just under 5 mm thick
Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes
Use a toothpick to create a hole in each cookie, make it large enough 
Arrange the cookies on a baking paper lined baking plate
Bake for about 15 minutes, don't let them burn, the back should be golden not black ;)
Let them cool before using them to create decoration as they need to harden first


Beware, cats like these cookies as well it seems...

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