Making Christmas cookies is a time-honored tradition in many households. Cut-out's are a particular favorite, especially among children. If you'd like to start your own tradition, there are a few things to know before you start shopping.
- Metal or plastic? They are usually made of copper, tin or plastic. Metal will be sharper than plastic, so they can cut through tough doughs easier. Plastic is less expensive, but they can warp if stored improperly, i.e. in a very warm place or near a sunny window. If you decide to buy metal, there's not really a difference between copper and tin. Copper tends to be a sturdier metal, so if you are buying very large ones, copper is a better choice although it is the most expensive option of the three. Keep in mind, if you're making small to medium-sized cookies, tin will work just as well as copper.
- With a handle or without? Some have a wooden knob on top, or a rubber hand-grip. This can be useful if you are making a big batch all at once, or have trouble gripping small objects. Handles will cost a bit more, so you may want to purchase just one and see if it makes a difference before you buy a whole set.
- Individual or a set? When you buy them you'll notice that many are sold as a complete set. For example, you may see a set of six stars which nest inside of one another or a variety of shapes. If you will use all or at least most of the those in the set, they can be a really good value.
- Tips. When you are purchasing, try to avoid one that have small areas that extend away from the main part. It's very hard to prevent the points from over-baking and they have a tendency to break when you decorate them.
- If you have young children, consider using only plastic. Although they don't cut as neatly as metal ones, they also won't cut little fingers.
- If you have some especially pretty metal ones, you can make an adorable ornament by tying a ribbon around the top edge and looping it over a tree branch.
- Where to buy. Now that you know all there is to know, here are some places in which to start your shopping.
Sugarcraft: This website sells a large variety, but specializes in metal. They also offer a wide selection of other related items, such as molds and stencils.
Foose Tinsmithing: This site offers a large array of hand-made tin cutters. They also sell miniature ones, which range in height from 1-1/2" to 2" tall.
The Cookie Cutter Shop: If variety is what you are looking for, this is the place to shop. If you can't find what you want here, you'll probably have to make it yourself!
Kitchen stores: If you prefer to see what you're buying in person, nearly all kitchen stores sell them, especially as it gets closer to the holidays. The selection may not be as extensive as an online store, but if you can't find what you're looking for, ask whether the store has a catalog. You may be able to order it.
Now that you have them, it's time to start baking. Whether you use a family recipe handed down through several generations or one that you found in a cookbook by chance, you'll soon be creating memories of your own!