What is your favorite Holiday item to bake? Is it a certain type of cookie, candy, pie, cake, or cordial? Baking is a holiday tradition for many and my family is no different.
Most of my early holiday memories involve some special kind of baking with my mom and grandma. My grandma had the best (arguably, of course) white cutout cookies. The difficult thing about this recipe was that it was not static. It required a lot of flour….such as 5 cups worth! Additionally, there was milk, Crisco, cream of tartar, and anise instead of vanilla flavoring that were added. But, the amounts of ingredients varied and were even written with a range, such as 4-5 eggs! What? How do you add 4-5 eggs, either it is one or the other, right? The sugar added was to be powdered sugar and that ingredient along with the flour and eggs were the ingredients that could vary in amount. So, although delicious, the white cutout cookies were hard to replicate from year to year.
The other difficult part of grandma’s cutout recipe was that it was a very, very soft and sticky cookie recipe for cutouts. I mean the dough was so soft that you needed to keep it in the refrigerator while rolling out only very small parts of the batch. Although this led to complaints while baking these cookies, it never deterred me from making them. I think they were worth the hassle and oh, so, yummy!
Today, I made my first batch of cutout cookies. They are not exactly my grandma’s recipe, but darn close and that’s good enough for me. The only part of the cookie I feel really strongly about retaining is the use of anise flavoring in lue of vanilla. The anise tells my tastebuds it is holiday time.
Besides cutouts, my mom made dozens of other types of cookies. Many have found their way onto my holiday table. Two types we make every year without fail are peanut blossoms and what I call “snowballs” but I believe are really called Mexican Wedding Cakes. They are my absolute favorite! Pecans and powdered sugar in a dry, sweet dough! Yum! Who wouldn’t enjoy these cookies?
We have also added a few types of cookies over the years as well. There were candy cane cookies made with peppermint-flavored red and white dough, twisted together and baked to resemble the candy cane itself. I made those a lot when our boys were younger. We also used to make Swedish Rosettes; I even own my own iron! And, now I have inherited my mother in law’s as well. But, again, we do not make rosettes often. Biscotti and Shortbread have also been added on occasion over the years.
We have a pizzelle maker and have added those to the regular repertoire of baking. They are easy and fun and bring back holiday memories for my husband.
Over the years, I have also added some candy making to the list of things to do in the kitchen at this time of year. These confections have included homemade peanut butter cups, apple cider caramels, and homemade peppermint patties.
Limoncello and Cherry Bounce made with our own cherries have also been fun to make and give as gifts.
I look forward to all the special foods at this time of year, and while I have retained some traditional baking from my mom and grandma, I have added new things – such as the candy and aperitifs – to our holiday kitchen creations. This year I’d like to make some seasoned nuts! Now, I just have to find the time to squeeze in a new recipe!