Giving the gift of cookies

Fair warning–if I know you, you probably have a box of cookies heading your way right now (honestly, you may get a box even if I don’t know you). This past weekend was my annual Cookie Day, and as usual my apartment is absolutely overflowing with sweets and treats of all kinds (16 kinds, actually, all told). For the sake of brevity and my poor sleep-deprived eyes, I’ll keep this short and say how much I admire my family and family friends who can manage to pull off massive cookie-baking extravanganzas and keep their kitchens and sanity in any state of not-chaos. This is what I ended up making, along with recipe links where I could find them:

Boxed up

Pecan tassies

Pecan Tassies (from my Grandma Bello)

Biscotti three ways

Anise-Almond Biscotti, Anise Biscotti (from my Grandma Bello), and Chocolate-Orange-Almond Biscotti (adapted from David Lebovitz)

Fig-date swirls

Fig-Date Swirls (from Lottie and Doof)

Rye pretzels

Rye Pretzels (from Smitten Kitchen) *My favorite new cookie recipe. Not too sweet, nice and crispy, and the rye flour adds a nice nutty flavor without the nuts.

Spice cookeis

Spice Cookies (from The Wednesday Chef) *This is the latest in a long line of attempts to find the perfect spice cookie. I rolled my eyes when the recipe called for “1/2 a free-range egg,” instructed that the dough be rolled into “perfect” balls, and called for candied orange peel to top (I left it out as I couldn’t find it at any store and figured making my own toffee was quite enough this season) but they sounded delicious. They were good, but still not what I’m looking for. The search continues…

Suprise Insides

Surprise Insides (from my mom)

The surprise

The surprise

Raspberry almond meringues

Raspberry-Almond Meringue Bars (from my mom)

Thumbprints

Thumbprints (from The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook) with homemade blueberry-orange jam

Peanut butter blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms (from The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, with some tweaks from my dad)

Snowcaps

Chocolate Snowcaps (from my mom)

Chocolate crinkles

Chocolate Crinkles (from my mom)

And finally, not pictured, nut roll and poppyseed roll (from my Grandma Connie).

This is the first year I haven’t made rugelach, marshmallows, or hot chocolate mix. I kind of missed all three at the end of the day, but I was happy I discovered the new rye cookies, which I think will be added to my list of staples (I don’t think I’ll do them as pretzel shapes next year though). And of course I can’t forget biggest thanks to my most reliable cookie helper for the past 6 (??!! really??!!) years! Thank you as always Andrea for covering yourself in powdered sugar so I don’t have to.

With that, I’m signing off until after the New Year. I hope you all have wonderful, relaxing fabulous holiday(s) with all your loved ones! (And if anyone has a favorite spice cookie I should try next year, please share!)

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10 thoughts on “Giving the gift of cookies

  1. Darling daughter, you have made me so proud and I’m grateful that Andrea helped you. Baking this enormous amount of cookies in your tiny kitchen is hard to imagine. And yet they always look so beautiful and packaged so nicely, I envy Chicago for having you. I miss the massive cookie baking days and I love that you are carrying on this tradition and the recipies of your grandmothers, Dad and me and exploring new things. I hope that your cookie recipients truly appreciate the love and hard work you put into those delicacies. Sweet dreams after a very incredible effort!

  2. Christina, you do all of us proud. (I have to say that most of the recipes that were from your mom were probably from me to start with but with a few exceptions.) You mom’s reply is so correct, all your friends in Chicago should be thankful you’re there. We all would wish you were closer to us.
    Love and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    • Haha, I love your comment on the recipes, you are probably right. Mom did say she’d show me the chocolate swirls Uncle Dave is so crazy about when I come home, I’ve never had them. I saw the pictures mom sent me of the cookies you made, they all looked so pretty. Even if we rarely get to see each other in person this time of year, I think traditions like this keep us close (and maybe if I can get my act together after the holidays, another box of jams might be headed your way). Love you too and merry Christmas!

    • Kim, those are both two of my favorites too. My mom likes the surprise insides “stale” after a few days, but I think they’re best when the chocolate is still warm and soft when you bite into it. Yum.

  3. I’m stealing your recipe for coffee, toffee, chocolate short bread…it looks WONDERFUL.
    In exchange, here’s my favorite spice cookie recipe. I admit it’s originally from America’s Test Kitchen, but I tweaked it a bit because I like mine a little spicier and a little less sweet. They’re amazing.
    Molasses Spice Cookies
    Ingredients
    1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar (double the first to 1/2 cup if you want them sweeter)
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1 large egg yolk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 dark molasses (dark as it comes blackstrap )
    Instructions
    1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar on a plate or shallow baking dish.
    2. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
    3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and add egg yolk and vanilla, beat until incorporated. On medium-low speed add molasses and beat until combined, about 20 seconds scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a final stir to ensure that no flour pockets remain. Dough will be soft. (this is a VERY stiff dough, my hand-me-down mixer always has a tough time with it)
    4. Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls. Roll half of dough balls in sugar and toss to coat. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. I usually use a fork to make a cross-hatch pattern in the tops, like peanut butter cookies. Adds a little flair, IMO.
    5. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw in between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes. Do not over bake. (I like my cookies a bit bigger than they suggest, so I up the time to 13-15 minutes)
    6. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
    I hope you like them, they’re my absolute favorite spice cookies.

      • You’re welcome! I’m pretty picky about my spice cookies, I like them dark and very strong…which is why I upped the cloves in this one
        I’m excited to try the shortbread and I’ll let you know how it goes once I get around to it

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