Parenting Win of the Week: Bring On the Holiday Cookies

Messy? Sure, but these memories will last a lifetime!

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Family mixing cookie dough at home


Family mixing cookie dough at home

Photo by: MoMo Productions

MoMo Productions

'Tis the season for our plates to be overloaded! Yes, the holiday season can certainly be joyful but as parents, it also comes with a whole lot more responsibility. With school events to attend, teacher gifts to buy, and family events to plan, it can be downright daunting.

So, take a minute.

Yes, you may need to take a minute for yourself, but I am also asking you to take a minute with your kids. Holiday time can also be a great excuse to bake with the family. I know that I have bookmarked just about everything chocolate peppermint to bake. My kids and I generally make something that we will drop off for a few friends and neighbors.

Now, baking with kids can be super fun, but it can also be messy and stressful if you don't plan a little in advance. So, we chatted with our friend Felicia Mayden, who happens to not only be a mom, but also the amazing executive pastry chef at the Ace Hotel in Chicago. She gave us a few pointers on how to make this experience a parenting win and NOT a parenting disaster.

Read the Directions in Advance

It may seem simple, but I bet a few of you read the ingredient list for shopping purposes and don’t read through the whole recipe before you get started. "Knowing what to expect from your cookie baking experience will not only ensure you have all the ingredients and tools necessary but that you’re able to confidently guide your child through the process," says Mayden.

Bless This Mess

Baking can be downright messy, even when kids aren’t involved (but especially when they are). Here are a few of Mayden’s tips to make it a little less messy:

  • Lay down a sheet of parchment on your work surface before starting.
  • Transfer sprinkles and other small decorations into bowls for easy grabbing.
  • Secure piping bags with a rubber band or piece of string to avoid icing spillage out of the back end.

Let Your Kids Do as Much as Possible

Take a step back and let your kids take the lead. Yes, we know it may be hard to do that as you watch ingredients fly everywhere, but trust us.

"A little spilled flour or dribble of icing is nothing compared to how proud kids feel when they’re able to help from start to finish. Holiday baking doesn’t have to be perfect — it just has to be fun!" says Mayden.

Of course, we couldn’t let Felicia go until she shared one of her favorite holiday baking recipes. We can’t wait to make it!

Spiced Brown Butter Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
By Executive Pastry Chef Felicia Mayden of Ace Hotel Chicago (makes about 40 cookies)


For Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • Sparkling sugar sprinkles — for decoration

For Frosting:

  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


Prepare Brown Butter:

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, heat butter slowly until brown bits form on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool — do not strain.

Prepare Cookies:

  1. Cream together brown butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  4. Combine dry and wet ingredients.
  5. Portion dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (about 2 Tbsp of dough).
  6. Dip the balls of cookie dough into sparkling sugar sprinkles.
  7. Bake cookies at 325 F for about 14 minutes — let cool.

Prepare Frosting and Decorate Cookies:

  1. Using a mixer, paddle butter and sifted powdered sugar until well blended.
  2. Slowly add in milk and vanilla, scraping bowl periodically.
  3. Top cookies with icing and a dusting of the spices used in the dough.


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