Merry Cookiemas!

I asked my kids if it would be okay if I didn’t do a bunch of cookie baking this Christmas. They were horrified.

“But Mom! It wouldn’t be Christmas without your cookies!”

Naturally, I couldn’t bear to ruin their Christmas. So, as usual, I spent day after day wrapped in an apron, measuring, mixing, shaping, and baking. Then a few more days melting, dipping, drizzling, and sprinkling. And voila! Christmas = made. This year’s cookie menu? The usual iced sugar cookies, some maple-glazed pumpkin cookies, cranberry-orange-white chocolate cookies (the trick is to use fresh cranberries, not dried); chocolate mint-chip cookies, peppermint cookies & cream balls, and as always, the Best Cookie Ever – alfajores. Which, in case you don’t know, are an Argentine specialty consisting of two complex shortbread cookies sandwiched together with sweet dulce de leche, then coated in powdered sugar. *Drool*

The Christmas baking is both my favorite and least favorite baking of the year. Least favorite, because it is soooo time-consuming. Not to mention messy. And exhausting. These are not the easiest cookies to prepare – especially the four-step alfajores. But also my favorite, because I adore giving away my cookies. They are delicious. And festive. Bite after bite of sweet, chewy, homemade Christmas Spirit.

I do wish that I had a few good friends to share my Christmas cookies with. Years ago, I had a fun tradition of leaving containers of cookies on my friends’ doorsteps on Christmas Eve. Of course, they always knew who had delivered them, but it was still fun, in a magical St. Nick sort of way. I miss that, a lot. Instead, I will bring these babies to the office, to share with a couple dozen coworkers who probably still don’t even know my name. And I will distribute some to family members, who rarely acknowledge my existence, but will enjoy the treats anyway. But best of all, I get to share them with my kids, as we enjoy these Christmas days together. And hopefully, one day, they will take on the tradition in their own kitchens.

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Christmas Cookies, Cookies, Cookies (etc.)

Do not…I repeat, do NOT peek into my kitchen right now. It is not just a mess, but a catastrophe. It is as though a bomb made of flour, powdered sugar, nuts, chocolate, cinnamon, dough, and sprinkles has exploded, plastering every possible pan, bowl, and surface.

That is Christmas Eve in my kitchen.

Every December, I take great pleasure in poring over cookie recipes, then spending hours measuring, mixing, and dipping to create dozens of delicious treats. Sometimes I even let the kids help. This year, as always, I baked a few dozen sugar cookies, which I will soon paint with sugary vanilla-almond icing. I have tried a number of recipes for sugar cookies, and here is the one which has always turned out beautifully.

I also made an annual family favorite, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pinwheel Cookies, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed walnuts. Sorry…this recipe is top secret. 😉 Okay, fine…the truth is, I got it from a cooking magazine ten years ago, and it is nowhere online. At least, not my version.

I also made Ranger Cookies, and a new recipe, which will perhaps become the next huge family favorite–a cookie from Argentina, called Alfajores. They are a crisp, buttery, vanilla-almond-lemon cookie, sandwiched together with dulce de leche. Can I just say…yum?

A delicious Dulce-de-leche sandwich cookie from Argentina.

Oh, and I just had to try one fully dipped in chocolate, as the Argentines like it. They looked like this:

Every chocolate lover must try this cookie, if only once in a lifetime.

And the taste? Omgcookieheavenomg! I don’t think I will try that again. The very idea of how many calories I just devoured makes my stomach feel a little queasy. Or maybe that is from all the cookie dough I nibbled today.

Finally, I made fresh Pulla Bread, a sweet Finnish Christmas bread flavored with cardamom; and vanilla nut fudge, which is my favorite fudge in the world.

Mmmm...vanilla fudge!

This year’s came out a little grainy instead of creamy and smooth, but that is the risk of fudge-making. The kids don’t seem to mind. They don’t mind the disaster in the kitchen, either. We will all happily ignore it, munching dozens of delicious Christmas cookies together for the next 24 hours or so. Then I will enjoy a nice cup of chai while my kids wash the dishes. (But don’t tell them that part…I don’t want to ruin their Christmas!)