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Christmas cookies

December 22nd, 2003 · No Comments

Wow, it’s two days ’til Christmas, and so far I’ve only made two kinds of Christmas cookies. On Friday the girls and I made candy cane crisps, and I also made my chocolate chip cookies with holiday MnMs. In years past, I’ve prepared platters of Christmas treats – by the 15th of December too!

My cookie cookbook is the Sunset one . It’s an oldie but goodie….I’ve had it so long that the binding has broken. But we love many of the recipes and they have become family favorites. (At one cent – the price according to Amazon – it’s a steal!)

Sunset is where I got my chocolate chip cookie recipe (now I’m giving away secrets….!) (well, I did tweak it a bit…) and for Christmas I’ve made many of the recipes in the back, including the candy cane crisps, gingerbread and even one year I made the almond-paste based partridges and pears.

One recipe not in the book is our family springerle. Passed down through generations, this German anise cookie has become tradition. As a girl, I ate it at my grandparents home. I’ll probably make a batch tomorrow night. It’s a bit unusual: the cookies dry overnight before baking. I like to have holiday food that represents our family heritage if possible. Sometimes I also make almond cookies, although I also make other Chinese dishes during the season, including starting the New Year with won ton soup.

Last year on Christmas Eve, the girls cut out and frosted cookies with their aunt and uncle. We will probably do it again this year. It brings back memories of years we decorated cookies with our dad and with our mom. Plates filled with brightly colored shapes. I still remember Dad mixing the food colors all together to get reindeer brown frosting.

The girls are getting more involved with cookie making. This year Abigail and Michaela had fun unwrapping and hammering the candy canes for the crisps. We used a hammer from a nut bowl given to us as a wedding gift. They also liked flattening the balls of dough and sprinkling more crushed candy on top. And they liked to stir. If I had let them, they probably would have made them all by themselves! Candy cane crisps are fun too because the dough doesn’t have eggs, so we can safely sample a spoonful or two 🙂

I don’t know how many more batches of cookies I’ll make this year. Christmas is coming close and I don’t see myself slaving away over the oven. This year is different because we weren’t invited to any parties that required cookies. I also decided to make inedible presents; I’ve found that often it’s too tricky trying to time the delivery of perishable goods! Ah, but a couple generous neighbors hae already blessed us with cookies, and by Christmas Day, the springerle and frosted creations will have added plenty of goodies to our home. And in a few years, I’ll have a few more helpers to crank out batches of cookies too….

A couple weeks ago I enjoyed this Seattle Times article Generations recall ‘Papa Henry’ with cookies by the hundreds Here’s one family who gathers together each holiday season to continue an old family tradition – and they still use the same recipe and original molds to make 800 cookies in a commercial kitchen…..

In an annual family tradition begun more than a century ago, the fifth generation of Verploegens mashed cookie dough into rosewood molds yesterday, filling a commercial kitchen in Bellevue with the same aroma that filled their great-great-grandfather’s kitchen in Holland.

Kathy Doyle, of Redmond, scooped about 800 golden-brown Dutch speculas Christmas cookies onto parchment paper while her children and grandchildren formed and baked the dough at a professional kitchen they borrowed for the day. The family gathering happens every year — for the past five on the weekend that is the anniversary of Doyle’s mother’s death….

…The family recipe traveled to America from Holland in 1910 with Doyle’s grandfather, a professional baker. He scrawled it on a piece of paper — half in English, half in Dutch — and passed it down. The amounts indicate he, too, made the cookies 800 at a time: 12 pounds of flour, 8 pounds of butter, 6 pounds of sugar and 12 eggs make up the base, along with baking soda, sour cream and spices.

I like how the whole family gets involved, what a picture, children and adults working together….

The family got together the Saturday after Thanksgiving to dump those ingredients in the middle of a plastic-lined kitchen table and take to the messy task by hand, mixing the dough for about 40 minutes into a giant mound.

…Even with three boards, making the cookies by hand is a big job. With practiced ease, about 20 family members chit-chatted as they worked, tossing stray pieces of dough in their mouths. Children too young to help make cookies stayed out of the way in an adjacent room, working on Christmas crafts. The adults took shifts pressing and cutting cookies because mashing the dough into molds is not only tiring, but difficult….

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