16 December 2008

Cookies, Christmas and Otherwise

It being that time of year when one's thoughts turn to Christmas cookies, I've been baking with the small child. She's a great helper monkey, loves to turn the mixer on, dumps with abandon, eats flour straight up. We made a batch of gingerbread the other day, rolled out and cut into bears and bells and trees, undecorated save for the few she scored and poked with a toothpick before they went in the oven. There's twice-baked shortbread to be baked tonight, using an Alice Medrich recipe found at the redoubtable Smitten Kitchen - and it is the best shortbread ever.

And last night, the girlie and I made my favorite Christmas cookies ever - well, as of last year anyway, when I found the recipe on the intertubes - a crispy, chewy, peppermint oatmeal shortbread kind of thing called a Candy Cane Crisp.

This, people, is why I was looking for candy canes the other days and cursing the gods for having invented the abominable fruit-flavored candy canes which were all I was able to find. Luckily, I texted the husband who scored a box of the real thing. Half of them were broken, but hey - the first step in the recipe is to crush the candy canes.

It's a simple recipe - no egg, no leavening - just butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and crushed candy canes, with more candy canes sprinkled on top giving them a nice pink sheen. You'll want to eat every last one of them because the texture is awesome and the flavor is better.

Candy Cane Crisps

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 t. salt
about 3/4 cup crushed candy canes (I ran them through the blender)

Preheat oven to 325.
Beat butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar until creamy; beat in vanilla. In another bowl, stir together flour, oats & salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly. Add 1/4 cup of crushed candy canes and mix until well combined.

Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls, then roll in remaining powdered sugar to coat. Place balls about 2 inches apart on greased and flour-dusted cookie sheets. Gently flatten cookies with a fork making a criss-cross pattern with the tines. Sprinkle each cookie with about 1/2 t. of crushed candy canes, or just pile it on top if you're five years old.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen, depending on how much dough the five year old eats, and whether you really can make 3/4-inch balls.

(Note: 13 full sized candy canes grinds up to about a cup of dust.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Over the weekend, I got an email from one of my sister's friends. She'd grown up down the street from us, and her mother was a bit of a foodie who catered as a hobby. Occasionally, for pocket change, I worked KP for her mother when she was catering or having fancy dinner parties.  

Attached to the email was a scan of a handwritten recipe, a cookie recipe that I'd given her mother when I  was eleven years old.  Susie and her mother were doing their holiday baking, and were about to make a batch of these molasses cookies, lo these thirty six years later.  And clearly Lee's made them often - the card shows the evidence of dribbles and greasy fingerprints (oh, and that's not my handwriting, it's hers).  I haven't made these cookies in a long long time, but they were terrific. What's more, I remember exactly where that recipe came from: the mother of an elementary school classmate who lived around the corner from us.  I wonder what ever happened to her.

Cookies kind of worm their way into your soul, part of the memories we make and remake and call our own.  What are your favorite cookies to make?


meno said...

I have a kick ass recipe for Oatmeal cookies. They are my favorite. I wonder if i could add candy canes.

Anonymous said...

I love those oatmeal dipped in chocolate balls. I don't know the technical name for them, but they're my fave.

susan said...

you have just solved my problem of what to do with the box of leftover-from-gingerbread-house-party candy canes!

My cookie standby is rollout butter cookies, using a recipe from a friend. Simple and tasty, every time.

Rima said...

I'm not much of a baker, so I don't have any favorites as of yet . . . but I *was* planning on baking with the kiddos this year and you just helped me decide what to try - the oatmeal peppermint crisps sound divine!

Anonymous said...

My favorite are probably peanut butter cookies. Nothing better than a fresh one right out of the oven. My husband likes chocolate chip, so we usually have those.

Unknown said...

Before I discovered that I am gluten intolerand and can't eat wheat, my favorite cookies to make and eat were shortbread cookies. The richer the better.

Now, I make a "sort of" shortbread that uses corn starch instead of flour, and while it has the texture, it lacks the delightful tenderness of real shortbread.

Mayberry said...

ooh, those candy cane deals sound good.

My grandmother always, always made thumbprint cookies for Christmas (with red/green frosting, NOT jelly), and pumpkin bars. Yummmm.

nonlineargirl said...

How nice to get that. I love molasses cookies. Yum yum double yum.

RuthWells said...

I'm about burnt out on baking right now, but there's a wonderful sesame-anise drop cookie that is deceptively simple and absolutely irresistable. When I regain my mojo, I'll post the recipe.

shrink on the couch said...

My mom used to make molasses cookies all the time. They had this soft bread like consistency. A sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Yum.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

So many cookies . . . but I do love my homemade oreos. Cookies made with a cake mix (nice and soft), filling made with cream cheese and powdered sugar.

Gwen said...

I am all over those cookies. I have a child (the very one who doubts my jello) who loves the peppermint candy canes. And one of these days, she'll even be well enough to eat them.

We always made Russian teacakes (also known as Mexican wedding cakes) at Christmas in my house. And gingerbread. And sugar cookies. I go on baking binges right about now (this distinguishes this time of year from the others not that much, actually).

She She said...

A recipe that calls for 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar? I think my kids may faint with excitement. We're having a cookie baking marathon this weekend -- I'll add this recipe to the list. Thanks!

Furrow said...

yum. I love pepperminty sweets. Peppermint bark is one of my favorite holiday treats. I may have to try out these cookies of yours.

I'm looking forward to making cookies with Zo. She's good at dumping things, but I don't think she's ready yet for baking.

niobe said...

My cookies almost always go very, very wrong. Even though I can bake other stuff reasonably well.

Usually at Christmas, I make the traditional Danish JĂždekager (Jew Cakes) mainly because I find a kind of malicious amusement in the fact that their odd name is a yearly source of heated controversy in Denmark, managing to offend both the Jewish and Muslim communities.

( Here's the recipe. In Danish, but you'll get the general idea)

KC said...

I love the nostalgic, warm from the hearth feel to this post! And I was going to say - Wow - you have some mature handwriting at the age of 11 when mine probably had small circles for the dots of my I's or hearts or whatever.

Not sure if I have a favorite cookie to make. I think that means I don't make cookies often enough.

Debbie said...

My kids would absolutely love these! Thanks.

Woman in a Window said...

I love that your 11 year old self shared a recipe with a woman. That's so sweet it's delicious.

Those peppermint ones look mighty tasty. Might try them.

Me? Ugh (feeling fat) I love all cookies.

Anonymous said...

The ones I made the other day were tasty but my absolute fav are Boo's gluten free dairy free triple choc chip ones. They are AWESOME!

But these sound absolutely scrumptious!

Woman in a Window said...

Dec 30th and I came ahunting for this recipe.

Woman in a Window said...

OK, candy cane cookies in my oven. Grand total = 18. Either I am generous or very greedy. Either way they're headed to my gut!