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“A Whoosh of Powdered Sugar all Over the Kitchen”? Bryn’s Recipes II!

Written by in Inspire

Recipes to Treat Your Co-Workers, Family (and Yourself)

Come December, I find myself baking ridiculous quantities of cookies. I’m not sure why; there are just two of us here at home, and I no longer work in a busy office full of hungry colleagues. I suppose it’s a deep-seated bio-emotional thing; like birds migrating south for the winter, I can’t explain it, it just happens.

It’s also the time when I return to old family recipes — the ones my mom has made, and my grandmothers, too. Perhaps you, too, dig out the old recipe box or vintage cookbooks. In the spirit of the season, I wanted share some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes and offer a few tips for baking success.

“Isn’t there still something deeply satisfying about cooking from old family recipes and heirloom cookbooks? Give me recipes on paper any day. Particularly if that paper is foxed, smudged, mottled, wine-stained, water-wrinkled or dog-eared”

First, some  tips:

  1. Freshen up your ingredients. That half-empty bottle of vanilla extract in the pantry? It’ll make OK cookies, but for real, intense flavor, you’ll want to purchase fresh vanilla (and also peppermint, almond or other extracts you may need for holiday baking). I recently opened a fresh bottle of almond extract and was surprised by the depth of its flavor compared to the old bottle it replaced. I like Penzey’s extracts for quality and taste.While you’re at it, pick up fresh canisters of baking powder and baking soda, which can lose their leavening power in about 6 months. Ditto flour, if you don’t go through it quickly, and baking spices, like that who-knows-how-old jar of ground cloves at the back of your pantry.
  2. Consider packaging. If you’re making cookies as holiday gifts, then look for pretty packaging to wrap them in. MarthaStewart.com has tons of wonderful cookie packaging ideas. And, of course, you’ll want to include a nice holiday card with the treats. If you’re baking for your family, then you’ll need less fancy storage for your goodies: large Glad containers and zip-top bags are good for cookies that you stash in the freezer until you need them.
  3. Need some holiday cookie recipes and ideas? Check out my Christmas Cookie Board on Pinterest for inspiration!My favorite Christmas cookie recipes include: Christmas Almond Wreath Cookies, pretty, buttery and sprinkled with cinnamon-almond sugar; Merrie Cookies, simple to make and flavored with almond; Classic Crispy Sugar Cookies, which can be decorated simply with colored sugar or elaborately with icing and décors, Chocolate Black Pepper Cookies, a slice-and-bake cookie with a bright hint of spice; and Pecan Dream Cookies, a classic wedding-cake-type of cookie.

Hey?! What’s the Big Idea!?

Paper tells a story. It absorbs evidence. It leaves a trail. It has memory. When you thumb through your favorites over the holiday season, those most loved will reveal themselves, stained with oil, egg, vanilla, cocoa and brandy, infused with memories of family, seasonal aromas, loves, joys and loss. You can’t get that off an on-line recipe box! Long live paper recipes!

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    Jamie said:

    Okay- I’m headed off to your Christmas cookie Pinterest page! Those crispy sugar cookies sound amazing!!