Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Cookie Countdown

**With this December even nuttier than usual, I'm going to give myself a break and do a few posts that share a little link love with Christmas past. Enjoy!**

Once, when I was in high school, my best friend's mother invited my mom and me to their house for tea and cookies around Christmas time. I remember her tray of cookies must have had two-dozen different varieties. The only ones I remember distinctly had a granular texture and she told us the texture derived from browned butter, and their name translated from German as "sandy moors"  (I've been on the lookout for them ever since--the closest I've found is sevilles). But I do remember being amazed by the array. 

I also remember my own mother making several different kinds of rolled refrigerator cookies and pressed cookies and cutout cookies every Christmas. I'm sure my grandmother made dozens of cookies as well, but what I remember most was the candy tray on her sideboard--fudge and nut clusters and rum balls and peanut butter balls (I believe my grandfather played a role in making the candy).

When C and I first lived together, I would make tins of cookies and candies for his many extended relatives, at the time believing it was easier and or less expensive than buying them all gifts––I soon found out it was neither, and I also found out that it takes an awful lot of cookies and candies to fill one of those tins.

Nowadays, I try to keep things simple and minimal: three kinds of cookies, one batch made per weekend in the month of December and nibbled on throughout the month. If there are any left on Christmas Day, we'll put them out on a plate. If not, no big whoop. And now, instead of tins of sweets for extended (and extensive) in-laws, I give out socks.

Here are my three standard holiday cookies:

Spekulatius. Okay, maybe this cookie doesn't exactly count as simple, but now I've got the technique down, it's not hard, either. I make the dough the night before (as I do with all the cookies), and then I make a few St. Nicholases here and there throughout the day, keeping the cookie trays in the fridge until it's time to bake them (this year I started right after breakfast and took them out of the oven right before bedtime, but in-between, we got the tree and decorated the house).

Chocolate Ginger Bread. This is a Martha Stewart recipe, and while I often find MS recipes a lot of work with kind of meh results, this isn't one of them. It's a tad more work than traditional gingerbread, what with the fresh ginger and all, but oh so worth it.

Sugar Cookies. I know, everyone has their standby, but this recipe is so good, I've used it for 20 years and I love it so.

What are your favorite Christmas cookies (to make or to receive)? And do you have any idea what a sandy moor is?


  1. Thanks for the info about the cookie molds! I'm wondering if there is still time to get my letter to Santa. :)

  2. There's always time...Santa's magic, right?


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