Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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President shares Christmas tradition
Rasmussen, family bake cookies for board

by Jade Bolack

December 20, 2012

WALWORTH — "The green Santa was really controversial. My daughter made it. I objected."

Village President David Rasmussen has a family tradition he shares with the village board and committees.

For the past few years, he's made "Laep Kuchen," a traditional German cookie recipe, and brought the decorated treats to December meetings.

"We had so many cookies I started bringing them to meetings," Rasmussen said. "Christmas cookies just don't taste right after the fifth of January, after the 12th night. It just doesn't seem right."

Christmas wouldn't be the same without the cookies. He's been making them since he was young.

"My daughter started making them when she was 10," Rasmussen said. "I probably started at five or six. My mom made German and Scandinavian cookies. You can use this recipe to make gingerbread houses."

In previous years, Rasmussen's wife would make the cookies. This is his first Christmas since her death.

"This (cookie) is symbolic," he said, showing the plan commission a heart-shaped cookie decorated to look broken. "My mother made these cookies for years and years. She got (the recipe) from relatives. Her mother probably made them. Then my wife made them."

This year, his daughter started the cookie-making process.

"I've never made the dough," he said. "My daughter made the dough (this year). I roll out the dough and cut the cookies."

The cookies, similar to both molasses and gingerbread cookies, need a huge time commitment.

According to the recipe, the dough needs to sit at least one day in the fridge.

"My sister thought it needed to sit three or four days," Rasmussen said. "If they don't sit, I think you get more air in the cookies when they're baking. You just put (the dough) in the fridge and let it sit."

Decorating takes time, too.

"I probably spent four hours on the batch of cookies this year," he said. "I get the frosting just so. Use confectionery sugar and food coloring to make little bowls of different colors. You set up a whole assembly line and sit there and do it. I use a sharp knife. Get the frosting just right and allow it to drip on the cookie. You can't push it out of an (icing bag). It just doesn't work."

Out of his kitchen came traditional-shaped Christmas cookies like Santas, churches and ballerinas.

"When I do the Santas, I do five or six at a time," Rasmussen said. "I'll do the white first, then the red."

But some nontraditional ones, too, like a beer bottle and a Santa in hot pants.

"This is my new favorite, Santa Claus in hot pants," he said. "You have to have Santa in hot pants."

Not all cookie cutters are created equal, according to Rasmussen.

"You want to squeeze the cookie cutter a little (when cutting the dough), so it falls out when you set it down," he said. "The plastic cookie cutters don't work so well. I've been looking at antique malls for tin cookie cutters that work better. You can bend them a little. These are the things you learn the first time you make them, just by doing it."