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Archive for the ‘family traditions’ Category

One of my favorite holiday memories is of my mother’s annual cookie baking. For weeks leading up to Christmas the sweet aroma of warm sugar wafted through our house as she baked batch after batch of goodies. The line-up was a predictable one consisting of recipes she had perfected over the years… sugar cookies, spritz butter cookies, magic bars, polvorones, toffee bars, and bird’s nests cookies. By the dozen she would place them in her collection of mismatched, decorative holiday tins and and then store them in the perfectly chilled uninsulated coat closet in our living room. In true mom style she strategically placed them on the top shelf where they were far out of reach of chubby little hands. As Christmas approached she would retrieve the cookie loot and with an eye for aesthetics carefully divvy them up into foil loaf pans. They were then adorned with festively foiled Hershey Kisses, wrapped in plastic, and tied with one of her signature scissor curled ribbons. The packages were proudly delivered to our teachers, bus drivers, mail carriers, dance teachers, coaches, etc. with plenty of leftovers set aside for our own family gatherings. Through my little girl eye’s there was nothing that signified my mother’s domesticated prowess more than her annual cookie creations.

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About 5 years ago, I was given a trial run at taking over as the official family holiday cookie baker. My mom was now a full time working mother who, along with my father, spent her winter weekends shuttling my 9 year old brother to and from ice hockey games, birthday parties, and play dates or making the trek upstate to support my sister’s collegiate hockey career. I was a first year teacher, newly in love, still living at home, and itching to prove my potential as a homemaker. I offered to do the baking that year and my mother (not so reluctantly) agreed. That year I scoured every “25 Days of Cookies” countdown I could find and eagerly printed a binder full of recipes. One weekend, I even traveled to Nick’s house with my mom’s KitchenAid mixer and baking sheets in tow in anticipation of being snowed in for the weekend. I baked dozens upon dozens of cookies and with each half used bag of coconut flakes or barely touched jar of jam I went in search of another recipe so as not to leave any ingredient left behind. I baked myself into exhaustion that Christmas, but earned myself the Cookie Queen title (and the William Sonoma 12 Days of Christmas apron to prove it!)

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Each year since my baking extravaganza has commenced in mid-December and in a whirlwind of confectioner’s sugar, creamed butter and eggs, and floury haze it continues through to Christmas Eve when with burn-marked hands and a rapid pulse I hastily package the goodies to present to my expectant family members at that evening’s annual soiree. I have a core group of recipes that have earned themselves a spot in the annual rotation, but always include some newbies as well. In an effort to satiate everyone’s sweet tooth and personal palate I try to vary my selections and include a balance of chocolatey, fruity, gooey, crunchy, decadent, and plain. In aspiring to emulate the nostalgia of my mom’s cookie bundles I even dotted my own packages with Hershey Kisses for the first couple of years. I have since abandoned the chocolates and still cannot hold a candle to her ribbon curling skills, but I think I’ve done my mom (and my 6 year old self) proud.

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Below is this year’s Christmas Cookie Roundup. Though most of us have moved beyond holiday baking into resolution mode it’s never too early to start bookmarking for next year! And although all of these recipes fly in the face of everything I practice and preach about healthy lifestyle choices, I do make exceptions for nostalgic and celebratory purposes and *spoiler alert* promise to provide a Martha Stoever-ized cookie recipe in my next post!

2012 Christmas Cookie Roundup

 chocolate peppermint

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (The Food Network)

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Chocolate Turtle Cookies (Pixelated Crumb)

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies (Joy of Baking)

"Perfect" Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Perfect” Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Apron Archives)

Rugelach

Rugelach (Ina Garten)

Triple Ginger Cookies

Triple Ginger Cookies (Bon Appétit)

lemon ricotta

Lemon Ricotta Cookies (Giada De Laurentiis) 

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies (Martha Stewart)

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies (Gourmet)

Not Pictured: Jam Thumbprint Cookies (Ina Garten)

 

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