Cookies are my passion, well, specifically Christmas cookies. For eleven months, cookie recipes languish far from my thoughts; I don’t think about baking cookies. Cakes, pies, crisps, and baking bread are my focus, creating new and exciting delectable baked goods. Then as soon as I flip the calendar to December, yes, I have a wall calendar, Susan Branch to be specific, Christmas cookies dance like sugar plum fairies in my head. My son, Chad, says I bake thousands of cookies; that might be an exaggeration or not. I know that copious amounts of sugar, flour, chocolate, oatmeal, nuts, candies, fruits, jams, and more disappear from my pantry; magically, tubs of cookies line the shelves in my pantry until they overflow onto the floor.
Now you ask, what do I do with all these cookies? Well, I give them as gifts to friends and family, and when company visits, a tray or cookie-tiered dish is ready for their enjoyment.
I have to blame my passion or obsession with Christmas cookies on my mother, Helen. She was an exceptional cook. And at Christmas, she too was possessed by cookies. As a young child, I was her elf at Christmas, sifting, creaming, and beating while she fashioned the most delicious cookies I have ever tasted. So you could say I was indoctrinated at a young age, brainwashed into the necessity to bake Christmas cookies.
My lovely mother passed away three years ago at ninety-seven, and I honor her memory as I continue the tradition. And being slightly obsessive-compulsive, I begin Christmas baking with my mother’s recipe for Anise Biscottis, then follow with my favorite, Sandies, tender shortbread dough with pecans, baked then rolled in confectioners’ sugar. Once I bake the two, I know the Holiday Season has begun, and I am on a mission.
Out comes all my Christmas cookie recipes, agonizing about which cookies to bake and whether I will make them again. And although I say I won’t add any new cookies to my repertoire, I lie. I can’t resist adding a few more cookies to make and thrill young and old.
My children are all grown, and happily, I have four new elves, my grandchildren, to share my passion for baking cookies. As we bake together, I share my memories from baking with my mother.
Once every Christmas cookie is consumed by family and friends, and I’ve cleaned and packed away all the cookie containers, I relax while sipping a cup of tea, knowing that the tradition will live on with the new generation.