I don't do a lot of baking during the year, apart from the occasional pan of Ghirardelli brownies for a party. But at Christmas, I set aside one day for the annual Baking of the Cookies. This has been a tradition since time immemorial--or at least for the last fifteen years or so.
Chocolate chip cookies are always a must. We always baked them when my brother was home so he could eat them hot from the oven with a glass of very cold milk. Mom liked them too, but without the chips, so we'd make a couple of "bald" cookies for her. I also have a fondness for Snickerdoodles, so they became part of the repertoire sometime in the late 90s.
Now that I'm married, I haven't given up the traditional cookie day. My brother still comes over to get his hot from the oven. We make chocolate chips and 'doodles, and occasionally a third or even fourth cookie. My brother has a fondness for amaretti, the chewy Italian macaroon topped with sliced almonds. (Personally, I like the pignoli version better, topped with pine nuts, but my brother has severe nut allergies so they are a no-no.) They are a little spendy to make, plus they get stale almost instantaneously, so we only make them every other year or so.
A few years back I tried a tea cookie made with finely ground Earl Grey tea. They were an odd blue color, tasted strongly of tea, but they didn't stay fresh very long. Last year we made chocolate cookies, but it was hard to tell when they were done or when they were burnt. Many got burnt, so we saved them for Dad (who seems to enjoy burnt things, or at least he's been pretending to for the last 40 years or so).
This year, we made the standard two varieties. Chocolate chips were made with the old standby Toll House recipe, and Snickerdoodles from The Joy of Cooking. Nothing earth-shattering, I'm afraid, but they were very tasty as they came out of the oven!
I would love to find a recipe for a chewy Snickerdoodle, but every one I've tried (even those purporting to be chewy) have produced profoundly crisp results. If any of my readers have a chewy recipe they would care to share with me, I'd be grateful!
Want a cookie? We have plenty!
I didn't grow up with a Christmas cookie tradition -- my mom preferred to make various quick breads such as cranberry-nut and pumpkin -- but this year I made almond biscotti, ginger snaps, peanut butter cookies, and best of all, chocolate chip cookies. They're actually oatmeal chocolate chip with pecans. I got the recipe from the then-girlfriend (now wife) of a former coworker. I haven't seen or talked with either of them in years, but I still enjoy her cookies.
I use this recipe for snickerdoodles and it results in a nice chewy cookie. I don't do crisp cookies.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.
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