Rita’s Recipe: Star of Wonder Cutout Cookies
About the Magi
The passage in Matthew 2:11 says that the magi came to “His house,” which leads us to believe that they came after the birth and when Mary and Joseph were settled in Bethlehem.
So who were the magi? Where did they come from?
They were called wise men, and developed distinct characteristics in medieval times. They are often depicted as representing three races, three ages of adult men and three different geographic areas. There are lots of different accounts as to who’s who, but I take my description from St. Bede, an 8th century saint, who described the kings this way:
The first was called Melchior, and according to tradition, he was king of Persia. He was an old man, with white hair and long beard; He offered gold to the Lord as to his king. He looks very Middle Eastern to me.
The second, Gaspar/Caspar by name, was fairly young. Around 40, beardless and of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense, the homage due to Divinity. In my nativity set he looks like he comes from India.
The third, of black complexion, with heavy beard, was the youngest, about 20, and was called Balthazar. The myrrh he held in his hands prefigured the death of the Son of Man. He is depicted as coming from Africa. The myrrh he brought was obtained around Yemen.
We know shepherds were on the scene, too and were told about Jesus’ birth by angels.
They didn’t bring gifts, but represented how Jesus came for everybody, not just the rich. They also symbolize the fact that Jesus himself became a shepherd and we are His flock.
Star of Wonder Cutout Cookies
What makes these different is the flavoring (almond, since it’s mentioned in the Bible) and the fact that the icing is so yummy and so easy: melted white chocolate!!!! Let the little ones help, forming free-form cookies with their hands if they like.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Blend butter, sugar and extract together until well mixed and somewhat fluffy. Pour flour mixture slowly into butter mixture and blend. Dough will be soft. Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/4” thickness. I do this between 2 pieces of parchment. Put in refrigerator to firm up, about 30 minutes or up to a day.
Cut out as desired (we made stars but animal shapes would be appropriate too) and bake on parchment paper or permanent baking mat for 15-20 minutes. Don’t overbake. Makes about 2 dozen or so. Ice if desired with white chocolate glaze or your favorite icing.
White Chocolate Glaze
Are you ready for easy? And shiny? And delish? OK, then just melt 1 bag of white chocolate chips over very low heat in nonstick skillet. Or in microwave or double boiler. BE CAREFUL OF OVERHEATING AND MAKING THE CHOCOLATE SEIZE. Remove from heat source while a few lumps remain – as you stir it the mixture will become silky smooth. Extra icing can be store in fridge.
Sprinkle any toppings on while icing is still tacky.
Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist, the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.
Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!
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