Friday, December 19, 2008

A Hard Day's Work

Christmas cookies are a huge tradition in this house. I grew up with dozens of different kinds of cookies at the holidays. I grew up in the north, where it actually gets cold in the winter, and I remember my Mom used to keep the cookie tins on a table in the garage so they would stay cold and fresh. I used to sit out in the garage and assemble big platters of cookies to deliver to all our friends and neighbors. I also remember eating my weight in cookies in that garage - ugh!

There were several kinds of cookies that my Mom only made at Christmas time, and those recipes still make the holidays feel special for me. Every year I try to pare down the list and vow to bake less. But once I get going, I can't seem to stop. I've been busy in the kitchen this week, and we now have plenty for Santa's plate on Christmas Eve.

Oh, and I've graduated from sneaking cookies in the garage. I now stand at the counter and eat them directly out of the oven, the way God intended all bakers to do. Here's this year's stash...

Powdered sugar chocolate chip (recipe here)
Lemon poppyseed
Fudge puddles (Paula Deen)
Cream Wafers
Sugar Cookies
Christmas shortbread (recipe here)
Aunt Carol's shortbread
Peanut butter Buckeyes
Meringue Kisses
Fanny Farmer Fudge
Chocolate Thinsies
...and this year's new favorite...Brown Butter Cardamom Cookies

Brown Butter and Cardamom Dream Cookies
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 rounded teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350. Bake these on parchment or a silpat. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, and let it brown, stirring constantly. (Watch it close! Butter goes from brown to black very quickly, and keep stirring!) Let butter cool and transfer to a large bowl. Add sugar and vanilla while beating on low speed. Mix flour, soda, salt and cardamom. Add to butter mixture in three additions; mixing well after each one. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, until cookies are golden on bottom and cracked a bit on top. (Note: Aunt Judy tried these and she liked them flattened slightly before baking them.)

If you have never baked with cardamom before, it has a warm, gentle spice flavor. It is delicious!

Packing the cookies away brings back memories, because I still have some of Mom's old tins from when I was a kid. These tins have seen many batches of Christmas goodness through the years. Now I'll set my kids to work assembling trays, and the delivering will begin!

My Mom came to help me bake yesterday. She commented on the unavoidable mess in the kitchen when you have five recipes going at once. I noted that I didn't think the mess was too terrible. She astutely pointed out that was because she had washed every single dish of the day. I spent more time baking (and dirtying pots!) and she spent more time washing and cleaning the kitchen! Come to think of it, that did seem to make baking a whole lot more fun! :) Thanks, Mom, for a great day and loads of help with cookie season.


Sandy said...

Baking Christmas cookies with you is always one of the highlights of the holiday season. We make a good team.....but next time you're the dishwasher! I am quite sure that we used every single bowl, pot, measuring cup, spatula and cookie sheet at least 10 times!!

Thanks for a fun day. I am glad you are carrying on this family tradition. Oma would be so proud of you.

Love you,

Leigh Ann said...

hey, thanks for stopping by my blog. I enjoyed yours, too. I especially love the cookie post. I've got that on my agenda for today. I am more of a candy kinda girl at Christmas, but my kiddos love the cookies. Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

That HUGE tin of goodness you sent home with me was the hit of the season!!! There was not a crumb left in there:-) I can't thank you enough for sharing!!!