Sewing went into non-existence last week in order for me to fulfill my yearly tradition of 12 kinds of cookies for my Christmas Cookie Extravaganza that I hold every year. This was the 9th year that I’ve done it, but the tradition goes back to me with my Gram, my Mom, and my Aunt in a tiny kitchen with a wonky oven and orange countertops when I was a kid. Christmas cookies are everywhere in my house right now!
I did not think to get pictures of me and my friends and kids decorating the gingerbread, assembling the alfajores, dunking pretzels in white chocolate, covering biscotti in dark chocolate, or icing the lemon love knots, but I do have photographic evidence of said cookies. This year’s dozen:
1. Alfajores–from Argentina: brandy shortbread base, dulce de leche, coconut. They’re a sandwich cookie, but I always make them open-faced because they’re prettier and you get twice as many.
2. Biscochitos–cinnamon and anise cookie with lard (I render my own because who knows what’s in the store stuff) from New Mexico. I love the cinnamon and anise, and it’s great to have a dairy-free cookie for me so I didn’t feel totally deprived.
3. Chocolate dipped orange almond biscotti
4. Checkerboard Cookies: for a slice and bake, these things took a long time between all of the chillings of the dough to make the pattern, but they are rather festive. It’s hard to beat butter sugar cookies in any form too.
5. Gingerbread: I have a love/hate relationship with cutout cookies. I love how they look, but I’m not thrilled with rolling out so many cookies or decorating them. Thankfully, everyone else enjoys decorating them, so I’m happy to pass the buck. This recipe is awesome though and I’m never giving it up because you just roll everything between parchment and peel away the excess dough. It means for more batches, but there’s zero frustration in dealing with sticking dough or having to transfer cookies from your rolling station and in the process risking distortion.
6. Jam Thumbprints: I used my leftover cranberry ginger sauce from Thanksgiving for these guys. Hopefully that didn’t taste too weird…
7. Oatmeal Scotchies with Reese’s Pieces: homey
8. Poppyseed Cookies: another dairy-free option for me. I’m new to baking with poppyseeds and I had no idea they had such a great texture and flavor on their own. This simple cookie from Nick Malgieri’s Cookies Unlimited really celebrates their crunchy nutty flavor without the lemon or orange that so often masks their glory.
9. Pecan Apricot Rugelach: from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. I love that you can make these guys up, freeze them and bake them off as you need to. If I was the stylish sort who had people who dropped in on me unexpectedly, I’d never be without these guys in my freezer.
10. Spritz: favorite all-time, this year made with my old-fashioned gun that I bought at the very fun Buffalo Hardware before I left Houston.
11. White Chocolate Covered Pretzels: I’m not sure this counts as a cookie, but they are awfully good and require zero preparation which makes them a good cookie for people to take on at a party.
12. Lemon Love Knots (pictured in the top between rugelach and white chocolate pretzels): These are little molded cookies dipped in lemon extract laced powdered sugar icing. I say “lemon”, but there’s no juice or zest as would be my preference–just lemon extract. There’s a lot of junky lemon extract out there, so I splurged and bought some quality stuff and ended up with a much less fake smelling cookie. My Mom and my husband eat these guys by the stack.
All in all, this is a homier selection than I usually do.
Most notably absent from this collection are florentines. I love their chewy crunchy chocolaty goodness spiked with candied orange, and I can eat a lot of them. Since my stomach has been not okay with chocolate for a good long while now, I decided to be kind to myself and eliminate this delicious kryptonite from this year’s cookies. But next year, I will florentine away.
I have a sweater in the works made from a beautiful crocheted Italian cotton wool knit. Hopefully I’ll finish it today!