Cooking, Traditions

A New Spin on an Old Tradition: Christmas Cookie Baking 2013 (Act 1)

What do you get when you cross a birthday party with a cookie baking marathon?  Lots of good food, spontaneous flash mobs dancing, and a case of the vanishing cookies.

A healthy "hello" flash mob style

A healthy “hello” flash mob style

You see, whenever someone walked in the door, my family had to break out in a surprise flash mob and dance.  Whenever reference was made to my brother’s potential love interest named Grace, they had to play the song Amazing Grace and dance (sway in place while eating cookies).  Many hands made light work.  We were able to put my Uncle Tony and Mana to work peeling the wrappers off of the Hershey’s Kisses for the peanut butter blossom cookies.  My Aunt Pam came prepared with Rum Balls (for our Papa), her Hidden Treasure Cookies ready to be frosted, a new gluten free cookie and ingredients for Our Family’s infamous Holiday Punch.

Mana and Uncle Tony taking the wrappers off the Hershey's Kisses

Mana and Uncle Tony taking the wrappers off the Hershey’s Kisses

Aunt Pam making the Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Aunt Pam making the Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Fortunately I had a little baking elf to help me get through the recipes, my friend Katy.  Everyone said she deserved a raise.  I like to think she was there because we amuse her, not because mom or dad are slipping her $50s behind my back.  We made my favorite Rugelach (a Barefoot Contessa Recipe), which is a crescent roll-up style cookie with a cream cheese dough and a sugar-raisin-cinnamon and apricot preserves filling.  Be careful if you make this recipe.  It takes some time, but the results are worthy of the time investment and long lost relatives may start requesting them…

Making the Rugelach

Making the Rugelach

We crafted my Mana’s “Cookies Rolled in Nuts with a Cherry on Top.”  They got this name when I asked her what she called them.  She started laughing and said, “They have no name, just cookies rolled in nuts with a cherry on top.”  Each year when I mention them, Mana laughs so hard her side starts to hurt.

Finishing the Cookies Rolled in Nuts with a Cherry on Top

Finishing the Cookies Rolled in Nuts with a Cherry on Top

Before everyone arrived, I made “Everyone’s Favorite Fudge” and “Salted Vanilla Caramels.”  They take time and need to sit in the pans for a few hours to set before they can be divided into bite-sized pieces.  After a late night cocktail party, a few of us sat around the kitchen table and wrapped the fudge and caramels.  We learned the next morning that maybe wrapping small food items should be reserved for any time BUT after a cocktail party.  Oh well.   I only make these once a year and they are little treasures.  I learned last year that these make a great surprise treat for the person who literally ‘has everything.’

Everyone's Favorite Fudge

Everyone’s Favorite Fudge

Salted Vanilla Caramels

Salted Vanilla Caramels

I’ll share a few more photos, stories and one of my favorite recipes in my next post, “Christmas Cookie Baking, Act 2!”

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