Friday Five: Christmas Cookie Conundrum

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

The Holiday Baked Goods Table. The Christmas Cookie Tray.

You know what I’m talking about.

It’s the card table set up in the back room with decorated tins filled with layers of treats divided by wax paper. It’s the iconic Tupperware filled to the brim with cut-out cookies in—mostly–recognizable holiday shapes, loaded with sprinkles. It’s the holly-and-red-berried platter with samples of confections that sits out all day, every day roughly between December 20 and 27 with an ill-fitting piece of saran wrap thrown on top.

It’s also my least favorite part of the holidays. <insert gasps, “well I never”s, and shocked faces here>

Holiday baking is as essential to the season as stockings, trees, ornaments and carols. It’s just not Christmas without it. But, it’s very hard for me to get in the spirit when staring down dry, uninspiring cookie assortments. You’d think the dessert table would be my safe haven, but surprise! Give me a plate of my mom’s sugar cookies or my aunt’s cranberry orange butter cookies and I’m all set. But that’s the extent of it.

Here are the worst offenders:

*Dry, powdery clumps of dough, usually called “snowballs”
*Shortbread with jellied centers – just say ‘no’ to Linzer!
*Hard gingersnaps – as far as I’m concerned, gingersnaps are made to blitz into crumbs for cheesecake crusts
*Weird crescent cookies that taste like paste and look like crooked baby fingers
*Anything with dates. Just stop.
*Anything doused in powder sugar. We get it — it looks like snow.
*Any “Italian cookies” – Italians do a lot of things right, cookies just aren’t one of them.
*Chalky fudge
*Coconut macaroons
*Anything with “pinwheel” or “sandies” or “thumbprints” in the name
*Biscotti – Biscotti are not cookies! Stop trying to make them legitimate desserts for those who don’t drink coffee!
*Candies that will rip out your teeth

Do you see the recurring theme? Dry. Chalky. Powdery. No. No. No. I need soft. I need plump and M-word and gooey in my holiday desserts.

As you can see, I feel pretty strongly about this. It’s a solid stance built on 32, soon to be 33, Christmases. Call me a cookie connoisseur, I guess. Or just a snob. I’m okay with both when it comes to this.

All this being said, Christmas to me isn’t just the aforementioned sugar and cranberry/orange cookies. It’s cinnamon rolls and snack mix and cheese and soups. I’ve written about MY food requirements for the holiday, but I really want to find some new baking traditions for me and Joe to share. And since the boy doesn’t like traditional sugar cookies or peppermint anything, this might be a pretty tough order.

Christmas to Joe is lemon bars and pepperoni rolls. So, let’s take this one {baking} step at a time. I’ll see your lemon bars, Joe, and raise you some new recipes. Here are the requirements: must be delicious and must be hand-held for easy grazing. In this busy holiday season we have no time for complicated desserts that require you to reheat, prep, or even build before consuming. (This list does not take into consideration savory appetizers or holiday breakfast fare. I guess I have a few more potential Friday Fives in my future.)

5. Truffles

Little balls of m-word gooiness! That sounds like potential with lots of different flavors and even boozy options to try. They also fit the requirement of being small for dessert table drive-bys. It’s also like the sister recipe to cake pops, which Robbi rocks every year. Actually, Robbi, can you just come to Utah and make those for me now that I’m craving them? Kthanks.

4. Snickerdoodles

Yum. I always forget about snickerdoodles. Bobbie baked her mom’s awesome recipe when we spent Christmas together in Florida and they really are a great holiday pick as they hum with warm spices. The key for me would be to make them really full of flavor (sometimes they can be really bland to me) and as soft and pillowy as possible, which generally leads to me under baking my cookies so much I might as well just eat the dough. That also works.

3. Peanut Butter ___fill-in-the-blank____

Peanut Butter. The Butter of Peanuts. It’s the one thing Joe and I agree on above all else. Well, that, and a few other things mentioned in our vows. My family already has peanut brittle in the sack, so we need a new favorite peanut butter treat that screams SPECIAL! HOLIDAY! EAT ME! No fork crisscross marks here. Joy the Baker features amazing looking “Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookies” in her first cookbook. She even writes that it’s based on her mom’s Christmas treat tradition, Buckeyes (which I adore), but in cookie form. Yes, please, to all of the above.

This is Joy’s recipe (with the addition of a questionable powdered sugar glaze), but here’s another similar one which looks more our style.

2. New-to-Us Cookies

I respect that Joe doesn’t like sugar cookies. I really do. I get that the person I love most can’t stand the one holiday staple I can’t live without. In the words of Wallis: “It’sfine….It’sfine..It’sfine!” (That’s code for “It’s not fine,” by the way.)

What if I could find a different variety of cookie? One we can both agree on? Worth a shot for the sake of our marriage. I mean, I’m always one to take one for the team…especially when it comes to baking. These peanut butter roll-out cookies could possibly fit the bill. And, even though they are covered in powdered sugar (typically a big Marci no-no), I’ve heard these crinkle cookies are quite the bite.

1. Wildcards

In breaking the hand-held requirement, what about a holiday ice cream? Too much cold? Or a pie? I need to keep working on my pie skills, especially in this altitude. What about a pie in bar form?  Cheesecake bars? Or what about cinnamon and sugar dusted soft pretzel bites? What am I not considering?

So, dear readers, what should I do? I’m thinking of making small, no—tiny, batches of a few things to have for us to nibble on for, you know, a day or two. What do you recommend? What will you be making? What are your can’t-live-without items?

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5 thoughts on “Friday Five: Christmas Cookie Conundrum

  1. you must try the winner if the Pillsbury bake-off contest. It will fulfill your peanut butter craving. The woman entering these won a million bucks and they taste like a million. Look up peanutty pie crust clusters and enjoy every bite. For your uncle Phil, I always bake a batch if snickerdoodles, but this year I am baking gingerdoodles. It has more of the warm spices you mentioned (ginger, cloves, cinnamon).

  2. Pingback: Friday Five: Christmas Countdown | hashtag marci

  3. Pingback: Christmas Cookies: Gingerdoodles | hashtag marci

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