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Legends & cookies of Christmas 4: The nutcracker and snowflake cookies

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This is the fourth in a series of articles regarding some of the Legends of Christmas, each of which will be accompanied with a Christmas cookie recipe. Share these legends with your family as you make your cookies for special family times.

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The Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffman, was first performed in 1892. The story was considered to be too morbid for children; therefore, Alexander Dumas Pere rewrote it to inject more optimism and happiness into it.

The story centers around a young girl named Clara. Her doting uncle presents her with a magical and mysterious nutcracker that she constantly keeps by her side. One night, while Clara was sleeping, the evil Mouse King entered her room and tried to take her to his kingdom.

Suddenly, the Nutcracker Prince sprang to life, fought the Mouse King and rescued Clara. Following the Nutcracker’s victory, he and Clara go to the land of magic and dreams. She visits the land of dolls as well as that of the Snow Queen where she met snowflakes of all types. Clara also goes through the candy land – children love to hear about the sweets from all over the world she met there. In particular, their imagination is captured by the images of the beautiful flowers and the sugar plum fairy. Clara does not find herself back home until Christmas Day, where she wakes up with her family surrounding her.

Tchaikovsky was asked to compose the music for the ballet by Marius Petipa, the first ballet master to the Tsar of Russia. Tchaikovsky used many different and unusual instruments for this ballet and kept all of them secret until its first performance. Since then, the Nutcracker’s Ballet has become one of the most famous ballets of all time.

As you make the snowflake cookies, remember the land of the Snow Queen. Why not plan a viewing of the ballet, also, to bring the legend and the cookies together.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups flour

salt (pinch)

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup shortening

13 ounces cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ᵒF.
  2. Sift flour, salt, and cinnamon together, then add shortening, cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and orange rind. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Put through cookie press and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Kids can decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar.
  4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until set.
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