As our world seems to be falling down around our feet, I feel a greater need than ever to focus on what makes me smile.
Sooooooo, in preparation for Groundhog Day tomorrow—I made Punxsutawney Phil cookies to celebrate!!! Hey, it works for me!!
I drew my own template, which I've included below, and the cookie dough I used is a gingerbread recipe I posted a few weeks ago here. I thought it made a nice shade of groundhog. :) You'd probably want to considerably cut it down though, unless you want A LOT of groundhog cookies. Maybe you do. He is awfully cute.
This is my version of Punxsutawney Phil. I encourage you to try your hand at drawing your own template, though. Do your thing! Make it your own. It's quite fun.
A little background on Groundhog Day. It's essentially a celebration of the halfway point of winter. Every year, on February 2, people gather on Gobbler's Knob, a hill outside of Punxsutawney in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, to watch a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil look for his shadow, after he is removed from a (fake) tree stump by a groundhog handler. It's true.
If Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner.
The first prediction was February 2, 1886. And the ceremony itself was not public until 1966. Today, the town of Punxsutawney has a huge festival which attracts 40K people. I kind of love that.
The tradition can be credited to the Germans who settled in that area in the mid-eighteenth century. For some reason, it was thought that if an animal came out of hibernation on Candlemas, which is February 2, and saw its shadow, winter would continue for six more weeks. There you have it. Groundhogs, festivals, February 2, Candlemas, winter, Pennsylvania, Germans. The day really cover a lot of ground.
Um, and just so you know, based on a 2001 study that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducted, Phil had been right only one of three times, but shhhhh...don't tell the people in Punxsutawney!
How To Make Punxsutawney Phil Cookies
Draw your groundhog design on parchment paper. You can either trace the one I created...
...or make up your own. You can see I went a few rounds before I came up with my final design.
Then, roll out your gingerbread dough about 1/4 inch thick, between two sheets of parchment paper.
Replace the top sheet of parchment with the piece that has your sketch. Smooth it down against the dough. Then, using a sharp knife, carefully trace and pierce the outline of your sketch and cut out your cookie shape.
Peel back the parchment and remove the excess dough. Bake all your little groundhog cookies in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes or so.
Cool on a rack.
I made cookies to spell out "Punxsutawney," using a set of Wilton fondant cut-outs that I picked up at Michael's. (I can't find them online at Michael's to link to, but I see Amazon has them.) I think I will get lots of mileage out of these!
And, before you eat all the cookies, be sure to make a cute video and post it on Instagram!
So, do you think Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow tomorrow, or not?!