This week Mom and I had the opportunity to bake Christmas cookies together again. We did it last year for the first time in many years and had a wonderful time. This year we compiled our list, Dad went grocery shopping, and then we picked the five cookies we would start with. The list is similar to last years, but not the same. And we didn’t start with the same cookies. This year I asked John and Jackie if they had any favorites so they named some cookies they wanted and those are what we started with. Of course, Tom and Dad are willing to help in any way and are always available for taste testing.
We started with Tom’s favorite cookie – Reese’s Chewy Chocolate cookies. I don’t know when I will learn and just make a double batch to start with. They are pretty irresistible. This year I used unbleached flour and I think they turned out even better than usual. Instead of being flat, they were mounded and just a little crisp on the outside. Inside they were chewy and soft.
Then on to Peanut Butter Blossoms. These turned out very well and I always love how the kiss on top is soft and melty when they first come out of the oven. We used to call these Star Cookies because you could get bags of chocolate stars and put those in the middle, but you have to go to a specialty chocolate shop for them now and we didn’t have time for a trip to Daffin’s in Sharon, PA.
We made Marble Squares, which is a recipe that Mom used to make a lot and that she hasn’t made in years. They are a wonderful, cake-like brownie with a cream cheese filling marbled in, but they are fussy and take a little more time. So we fussed over them and they turned out delicious! Jackie had requested these, even though she has never had any of my mom’s. I hope they are as good as the ones she remembers.
A first-time cookie in our baking was Mary Elma cookies. This is a recipe given to me by Gerry Hanna, a Wedgewood church member, and she got the recipe from Mary Elma. Gerry would make them for me every year and give them to me before the 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service. I would send them home with John and Tom after the service and if I didn’t have one while they were in my office, they were often gone before I got home after the 11 p.m. service. Mary Elma cookies are a soft sugar cookie with icing.
The cookie part went well, but I had a little trouble with the icing. I’ve always liked this icing because it hardens just enough so that it doesn’t get smooshed into other things but it is still soft. The icing is simple: powdered sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and food coloring. The recipe calls for three cups of powdered sugar, but when I mixed all the ingredients, the icing was very runny. So I added more powdered sugar. And more. And more. I used up every bit of powdered sugar I had in the house. Dad was washing dishes and he started “helping” by suggesting other ingredients to add: cream of tartar, baking soda, Wondra flour (great for thickening gravy). When I had mixed in all the powdered sugar I had, the icing was just barely thick enough to stay on the cookie. I didn’t add any food coloring because I was afraid one more drop of fluid would push it over the edge. Dad tasted a drop of the icing and said, “that will put you in a sugar coma!” Definitely not a diabetic cookie. Despite the problems with the icing the cookies were delicious. But next time I start with half the milk!
The final cookies of the day were a request from John – Candy Cane cookies. I made these once for an open house and I guess he always remembered them as being really good. They are peppermint flavored and shaped by rolling a red-colored rope and uncolored rope of dough and then twisting them together. Even though we refrigerated the dough for several hours, it was still sticky and hard to work, so the candy canes came out a little ragged.
We still have another four or five batches of cookies to make. Mom is making her chocolate chips, and we will make Tollhouse Caramel Bars and Grandma’s Ginger Cookies next time we get together. So the fun and deliciousness will continue.
What are your favorite “Christmas” cookies? Who do you like to bake them with?