Cookie Day!

Here’s a really easy riddle for you: what can you make with 6 1/2 pounds of butter, 12 pounds of flour, 29 eggs, and 3 pounds of sugar? Answer: A hell of a lot of cookies and a lot of happy friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

Who wants a cookie?

In case that wasn’t clue enough, this past weekend was Cookie Day (or really, Cookie Weekend), which has been an annual tradition since before I can remember. When I was growing up, my mom and her friend Connie would pick a day in December and there would be Baking-with-a-capital-B. Over the past 20 years, Cookie Day has seen 6 homes and pretty much every major life milestone–and I couldn’t be happier that I brought at least a small part of it with me when I moved to Chicago.

Recipes and lists
Lists are essential

Now, let me be clear: this is no two- or three-hour deal with one or two batches of your holiday cookie standards. I don’t say that out of some kind of misplaced pride or egotism, but to set the stage for the sheer amount of baking that is involved. During Cookie Day’s heyday, there had to have been more than 3 dozen kinds (that’s not 36 cookies, but 36 kinds of cookies) at the end of the day. And since nearly every recipe was at least doubled, if not tripled…I can’t even guess how many cookies that would be.

Fig-date swirlsPistachio-orange crescents

But oh, does it make for the best memories. There was the time trays of cookies were being shoved, hot, into trunks of cars because a) there was probably no other flat surface on which to cool them, and b) it was so late and everyone was so tired that it was unimaginable to do more than that. There was the year that we opened tins to start boxing up cooled cookies only to discover cookies leftover from the year before (thankfully well-preserved, if very stale). Or the year of the unfortunate reindeer turd cookies–at least they tasted good!–or the year of the florentine mishap.


Some things have never changed with Cookie Day with my mom and Connie: mimosas always start the day, with a break for sandwiches and chips for lunch. Someone will always choose an overly-complicated new cookie recipe for the end of the day and end up swearing up a storm. Someone will inevitably put a dough in the refrigerator to chill, thinking “Oh, I’ll remember what cookie that’s for” and will have no idea three hours later which of the now five chilled doughs belonged to which cookie.

My mom will always make butter horns, Connie will always make rugelach, my sister Laura will always decorate the “pizza” cookies, and my sister Erica will show up at the end of the day to eat the butter horns and ask what she can take (but we love her anyways). And I will always be the pecan-tassie-maker and the unwrapper of Hersey’s Kisses and chocolate balls for peanut butter blossoms and “surprise inside”s–three tasks that I now happily pass off to my unwitting, yet very patient, friends. There have to be perks to hosting my own Cookie Day, you know.

Helping hands are essential
Helping hands are essential

But beyond the masses and masses of sugar and flour and butter and chocolate and nuts, I love my friends who have joined me over the past few years for the baking extravanganza, and helped me create my own version of this tradition.

Treat box

Mulled wine or glogg has been the beverage of choice for the past three years, cheese and crackers for snacks. I still choose at least one overly complicated recipe, forget which cookie dough is which, and swear at midnight on Sunday that next year I’ll make two cookies and that’s all! (I’ve said that for 6 years, hasn’t happened yet.)

Boxed and ready to give away

What are your holiday baking traditions? Any other baking over-achievers–do we need to start a support group?

Cookie Day 2012 Recap

Types of cookies: 14, plus hot chocolate mix and marshmallows

  • Anise-almond biscotti
  • Fig-walnut biscotti
  • Peanut butter blossoms
  • Thumbprints (raspberry, grape, and apple-lemon)
  • Pecan tassies (a double-batch, god help me)
  • Chocolate-espresso crinkles
  • Rugelach
  • Raspberry meringue bars
  • Grasshopper bars

New this year:

  • Fig-date swirls
  • Pistachio-orange crescents (Cut-outs, filling, AND fussy timing? What was I thinking? They were delicious and quite popular though)
  • Chocolate-orange biscotti
  • Spice buttons (Never would have done the frosting and sprinkles, thank god for friends and co-bakers!)

Total number of cookies: 660, not including bar cookies or ones sacrificed for “taste-testing”

Best new recipe: Tie between adding espresso powder to my usual standard snowcap/crinkle recipe and a totally new pistachio-orange crescent (which I will never again make for Cookie Day, as they broke several of my cardinal rules, not least of which is no cutouts, complicated fillings, or overly fussy timing).

13 thoughts on “Cookie Day!

  1. I knew right away who asked the above question. That’s his favorite and I make a double batch of that one because it’s my brother’s favorites also.
    We didn’t do our crazy cookie day this year but Aunt Sue came over on two Fridays and you would think that all of us were here. She’s a demon with a mixer. Aunt Sandy sent me cookies and although we said we weren’t going to make so many, we did. Still have a couple favorits and of course, pizzelles.
    Nut and poppyseed kuchens will be the last. Keep it up Christina, it’s love and fun and you’d miss it if you stopped.!!!!!


  2. Christina, I forgot to tell you that Swirls are made with a yeast dough you roll very thin and spread with a chocalate filling then slice and bake. The filling is egg whites, cocoa, nuts and vanilla.


  3. I laugh hard every year at the trunk cookies, the tins from prior years and the reindeer pooh cookies. I’m so glad you are carrying the gauntlet and continuing the tradition and documenting it. Connie and I would always swear at the end of a baking session that we will come prepared the next year with a list of only a dozen types of our favorite cookies and only those ingredients. But it always ended up that we were preparing our lists the day of cookie day and Connie would come to the house with 3 shipping boxes of ingredients, tins and cooling racks and we’d have no idea what were were going to prepare outside of rugalagh, butter horns, surprise inside and pizza short breads. We always baked too many types. It is a memory I will savor and I’m so happy that you have good memories of it too.


  4. I never thought of starting my cookie baking with a drink!!! We all have some obsessive tendancies since we cannot do anything in small quantities. I love to make cookies like the linzer, cut outs and fancy cookies…..I love the challenge! Good job Christina…..


  5. I feel quite honored to have made “blog status”. And thanks for not mentioning that it was me who had the tins with year-old cookies – still has to be one of the funniest moments.
    It took a move to Hamilton NY for me to finally get my coveted “second bowl” for the Kitchen Aid mixer. You remember, Christina – how every cookie day I would say “I need another one of those” – and this year Anna finally bought me one for Christmas.
    I’m eyeing the picture with those fig-date swirls and want to just get out a pound of butter, throw some flour on my face (you know it will eventually happen) and start baking.
    Anna and I made some old favorites this year and although I bought a ton of cream cheese – I never did get to my Dad’s favorite – his beloved kaflicki’s a.k.a. rugelach. Tough to grind up nuts and raisins without a food processor. My next purchase (and mother of god those things are pricey)!
    Thanks for sharing the stories and cookie treasures. Cookie Day was and is a very special event!


    1. We all bear the shame of the year old cookies, don’t worry. And that’s a perfect christmas gift! It would be terrible for me, though, I’d use it as an excuse to let the other one stay dirty.

      Ha! The one thing I left out was how someone at least once would turn the mixer on too fast and we’d have our own indoor snow.

      Could you send me and/or mom the recipe for the rugelach? We were both trying to replicate the filling this year and failed terribly.


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