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Slice and Bake Buckwheat Chocolate Shortbread

I love the holiday season – I really do.   I keep a nested to do list on my phone to keep track of Christmas presents.  I drive out of my way to find houses with the best light displays.  And I bake a lot of cookies.   But there’s a point in the [...]

Mincemeat Rugelach

Mincemeat Rugelach Rugelach dough, of course, is very similar to a lightly sweetened pie dough, and mincemeat, with its combo of dried fruit and sugar, is not that dissimilar from traditional rugelach filling. Rugelach is a traditional Jewish cookie, of course, and Mincemeat is a traditional Christmas treat, but I have an ecumenical attitude when it comes to good food. And good these are — not too sweet, crisp on the outside with a soft center. You get an echo of mince pies, but these are lighter, despite the prodigious amounts of butter and cream cheese in the dough. And if you want lighter still, you can make smaller cookies by forming into pinwheels and slicing before baking. [...]

Baklava Bars

Baklava Bar Cookie In the midst of this maelstrom I’m always on the lookout for cookie recipes that are interesting, and special enough for the season, but that don’t take a lot of extra work. As soon as I saw these baklava bars, I knew I had hit the jackpot. A buttery cookie base with a crumbly topping of crispy phyllo and walnuts – what could be better? And you can bake a pan at a time and cut them into rich little triangles in no time flat. These taste affirmatively like baklava, but are also definitively cookies – which is a lovely half state to be in. [...]

Eggnog Rum Balls

Eggnog Rum Balls
So on to cookies. Because what is a celebration without cookies? I’ve always loved eggnog – it has been an integral part of The holiday. But as I get old(er), my tastes have changed, and drinking what is essentially a glass of custard has become less appealing. Enter these no bake cookies. Vanilla, nutmeg and rum, but in a convenient bite sized form. Now that’s something to celebrate! [...]

S’Mores Krispie Treats: the Bake Sale Sweet Spot

0abb29d4d1b2ce105e72479e0b5e684be94e6a4b These S’Mores Krispie Treats were my contribution to the bake sale. They are easy to make. They are big. They have visible chocolate AND marshmallows. They recall not one but two favorite childhood treats — S’Mores and Rice Krispie Treats. And they are sweet. They are very sweet. My husband called them diabetic shock in a convenient bar form. In other words — PERFECT bake sale fodder. And they got snapped up (though not as fast as those little ghost pops, but I don’t have the patience to make those.) [...]

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies 1 OK, I am a sucker for chewy homemade chocolate chip cookies. And nothing quite hits the spot in the fall better than my friend Kas’s molasses cookies. And these yeasted butter and sugar cookies are so unusual and addictive, they must be given some credit. But these oatmeal cookies are definitely in the TOP FOUR. And they’re really the cookies I’m famous for. When I was in high school, I’d bake these all the time — they were my dad’s favorite cookies, and were requested for holidays and family gatherings. I got out of the habit for a while — tried other oatmeal cookie recipes, cheated on my favorite, but I keep coming back to these — they’re really the BEST. Chewy and buttery, with the nuttiness of the oats and the crunch of walnuts. You don’t have to make them with chocolate chips — raisins are a perfectly acceptable substitute if you’re a purist — but I happen to think that chocolate chips elevate oatmeal cookies into the realm of the sublime. [...]

Christmas Cheer – Peppermint Pretzel Bark

Peppermint Pretzel Bark
The Christmas season is an exciting time for mail. Instead of the usual bills and solicitations (though there are plenty of those), each day’s post brings cards from friends, and my guilty pleasure — Christmas catalogs. I love poring over each one, looking at the Christmas decorations and the Christmas food. Oh the food. I imagine a life where I’m ordering a $200 beef roast and $40 biscuits for Christmas dinner. And then I laugh and recycle the catalogs because WHO BUYS THIS STUFF? When you can make it yourself (and make it better) for less money? [...]

Santa Baby, Just Slip a Sablé Under the Tree

Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies It’s Christmas time, and I’ve been baking cookies like a madwoman. There has to be something to leave out for Santa, after all. Yet despite all the baking, we don’t have any cookies in our house. Some have been trotted out to parties, some shared with coworkers, some sent to nurses. And some don’t have such, um, legitimate reasons for disappearing. Rosemary pine nut 3 Like these sablés, which is a Frenchie word for shortbread, and which I used because I couldn’t resist the pun. Shortbread is nice, of course — what’s not to like about butter and sugar? But this is particularly wonderful shortbread — Christmas shortbread if you will. You still have butter and sugar, but this time it’s flavored with rosemary, which gives the cookies the faint aroma of a Christmas tree, pine nuts, which have that whiff of luxurious meatiness which makes so many holiday confections special, and orange zest, which always reminds me of Christmas, maybe because I grew up in California, and got an orange in my stocking every year. [...]

Candy Cane Faux-Jo’s

Candy Cane JoJos4 Copy of Candy Cane JoJos 3 If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you may have gathered that when it comes to Christmas food, I’m a traditionalist. We’ve had the same meal for Christmas dinner every year of my life (even the year I spent Christmas in Florence, Italy), and the same meal for Christmas morning breakfast every year but one (hard to find turkey gravy in Italy). My Christmas baking tends towards either classic Americana, like ;Sugar Cookies or Bourbon Balls, or classic English Christmas, in the form of Christmas Cake or Mince Pies. And I feel very strongly about the necessity of waking up on Sunday morning and baking Christmas cookies, still in your pajamas. Copy of Candy Cane JoJos But sometimes I encounter a newfangled holiday treat that’s so tempting (or addictive) that it becomes a new holiday tradition. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you may have realized that I have a deep and abiding love for Trader Joe’s, and never more than at holiday time, when the crack, er, Candy Cane JoJo’s are available. If you’ve never had a Candy Cane Jo Jo, it’s basically an oreo with crushed up candy canes in the filling. Sounds basic, right? But the sum is so much more than it’s parts. The bits of candy cane stay crunchy in an entirely different way than the cookies stay crunchy. And the whole thing just begs to be dipped in a glass of milk and eaten. In vast quantities. [...]

Arnhem Girls — The Best Sugar Cookies

Arnheim 3 If you cook and bake a lot, cookie recipes all start to seem the same. Some variation of butter, flour, sugar and eggs, with flavoring to make the cookie stand out — oatmeal and raising, white chocolate chip and cranberry, chocolate chips and peanut butter (not that there’s anything wrong with any of these). But it’s rare to see a really unique cookie recipe. I came across this recipe for Arnhem Girls or Arnhem Biscuits, a traditional Dutch cookie, years ago, when I lived in New York, in John Thorne’s Pot on the Fire. The description intrigued me – an unsweetened, yeast-leavened cookie rolled out on coarse sugar, but what really piqued my interest was the source — a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140139052?ie=UTF8&tag=totboo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0140139052″>Roald Dahl’s Cookbook, a memoir and cookbook written by the man who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory(i.e., this man knew sweets. Dahl described the biscuits like this:

“It was flat and thin and oval, and crystals of sugar were embedded in the top of it. I took a nibble. I took another nibble. I savoured it slowly. I took a big bite and chewed it. The taste and texture were unbelieveable. This, I told myself, is the best biscuit I’ve ever eaten in my life. I ate another and another, and each one I ate only strengthened my opinion. They were simply marvellous. I cannot quite tell you why, but everything about them, the crispness, the flavour, the way they melted away down your throat made it so you couldn’t stop eating them.”

Color me intrigued. With such an evocative description and an unusual method, how could I not be? But, as with most recipes, I set it aside and forgot about it. [...]