If we are what we eat, then our tastes in Christmas cookies may be the window to our souls. Through the years I have become convinced that the Christmas cookies we choose to bake and eat -- a decision that is as personal and individualistic as they come -- are an expression of who we are.
What's more, if the folks who develop personality tests like the MMPI were really on the ball, they would be probing away on this question of Christmas cookie preferences. Just think what prospective employers and the Department of Homeland Security would be able to do with true/false questions like these:
- I dislike frosting on my Christmas cookies.
- I never eat Christmas cookies that contain no chocolate.
- I eat only Christmas cookies that are shaped like Christmas objects.
- When I eat a reindeer-shaped cookie, I always bite the head off first.
- I avoid Christmas cookies sprinkled with green sugar crystals.
- I am happiest when I have red hots and those little silver sugar balls on my Christmas cookies.
In all seriousness, though, the Christmas cookies we wait a whole year to eat may say a lot about our approach to the holiday.
Most people who bake for the holidays have a repertoire of Christmas cookies, and for some it's a pretty narrow assortment. Often the cookies we make year after year have sentimental value, as the recipes have been passed down through generations. Such standards as spritz cookies, or some other kind of sugar cookie, have enduring appeal.
To a certain degree, Christmas cookies are also subject to trends. I've been noticing a lot of recipes for spice cookies in the past couple of years. Cookies flavored with anise are in. A few years ago, white chocolate was the big ingredient.
I have two long-time favorite cookies to share, and I'll let you decide what they say about me. Both are cut from the traditional mold and both are recipes that I grew up helping my mother make.
2 teaspoons ginger
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cups butter
3/4 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
1/2 cups molasses
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl and blend well.
Using the low speed on the mixer, combine the butter, shortening and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and combine thoroughly, then molasses.
Using a teaspoon, drop quarter- to half-dollar-sized balls of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes. Cookies will be thin and crisp when cooled.
Makes about 3 dozen
1 cup butter
1/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using the low speed on the mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour and blend thoroughly. Add the pecans and blend.
Roll small amounts of dough into half-moons about 1 1/2 inches long and not quite 3/4-inch thick. (I think these cookies look better if they are bent in the middle rather than rounded.) Arrange the half-moons on a greased cookie sheet and baked until the tops show just a hint of brown, about 15 minutes.
After the cookies cool, roll them in powdered sugar.
Makes about 2 dozen.