I love to bake. I don’t do it much anymore because whatever I bake ends up in my mouth and then around my middle, but every year around Christmas I get the urge to make Christmas cookies. I used to invite groups of friends over and we would spend the day baking and then divide the cookies up. The last few years I have been a solitary baker. But this year I have the joy of baking Christmas cookies with my mom.
When we are in Ohio, we try to spend time with my mom and dad at least once a week. On Friday my mom and I spent the day baking five kinds of Christmas cookies. We made Grandma Clymer’s Ginger Cookies, Mom’s Famous Chocolate Chips, Super-Duper Chocolate Crinkles, Toll House Caramel Bars, and Reese’s Chewy Chocolate cookies. Each kind of cookie has a story and special memories.
Mom’s Famous Chocolate Chips are chewy, soft chocolate chip cookies that are the best ever. Everyone loves them and no one can duplicate them (without her secret recipe). Some of my best memories from my school years are coming home to a fresh-baked batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were a great excuse to sit at the kitchen counter and talk about our day at school. In high school we would often have friends come home with us after school in hopes of nabbing some cc’s. In college we anticipated receiving packages that contained the taste of home. And they are still my dad’s preferred cookie even after 57 years of marriage.
Grandma Clymer’s Ginger cookies smell like Christmas. Grandma would come and stay with us kids when Mom and Dad would go away to medical conferences. She and I would always bake while they were gone, and this was one of my favorites. They are a soft and chewy gingerbread rolled in sugar that make the whole house smell wonderful. Just one bite and it feels like Grandma is beside me again. I especially like them because they are one of the few non-chocolate cookies I bake, which means they last longer!
Super-Duper Chocolate Crinkles are another of my mom’s recipes. They are like bites of brownie rolled in powdered sugar. I think most people don’t include the Super-Duper in the name, but it got added because someone in the family always referred to them that way when the cookies were baked.
Reese’s Chewy Chocolate cookies are Tom and John’s favorite. They are the kind of cookie they ask for when I give them the choice and they are always the first of the Christmas cookies to disappear. They are a little tricky because you want them to come out of the oven just a tad underdone so that they will finish baking on the sheet and stay chewy. The first tray always comes out just plain underdone, but I think that is Tom’s favorite way to enjoy them – a gooey but delicious mess. They were the first cookies I baked in the RV convection oven (see previous post).
The Toll House Caramel Bars are a more recent “healthy” addition to my Christmas baking. Kerrol Graham gave me the recipe after making them for one of her United Methodist Women Christmas parties. They are baked as a bar instead of dropped so they don’t take as long to make. Because they have oatmeal in them, Tom likes to eat them for breakfast. Here is the recipe for the Caramel Bars:
Combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups old-fashioned oats, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl. Stir in 1 cup melted butter. Reserve (take out) 1 cup of this mixture. Press the remaining mix into an ungreased 13×9 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Sprinkle 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts on top. Drizzle with 1 cup caramel ice cream topping blended with 1/3 cup of flour. Sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and cut.
Mom and I had a great time baking together. Tom and my dad stayed busy with some tasks around the house, including putting a new window in the shed out back. And, of course, they served as taste testers for each batch of cookies. All were pronounced delicious! Baking Christmas cookies together was so much fun that we are going to do it again tomorrow. You can never have too many Christmas cookies!