Monday, December 28, 2009

Cookie Baking - A cup of goodwill, a pinch of the past, and a smidgen of cinnamon

The other day as it was snowing – our first big snowfall of the year with 12 inches, I was mindful that those kinds of days are great to spend baking cookies; however I’ve already baked mine for the season.

Memories flood my mind of days past when families gathered to spend a day together baking, talking and sharing among themselves. It’s a good way to carry on traditions from the past. Christmas cookie baking represent friends, family, comfort and tradition and recipes handed down from one generation to the next.

When I bake my cookies in December, I like to make several differing kinds for variety.
My recipes have not yet been put into an organized system, except for an old tattered book entitled “Christmas Cookies”, into which I stuff all the best of the best recipes that I have made. They may be on old yellowed pieces of paper, recipes handed down from my Mom, newspaper clippings, from friends, or recipes gotten from a magazine while sitting in a doctor’s office.

I begin by sorting the recipes and making a list of the ones that I would like to bake. I look over the recipe and note what ingredients I will need to buy so that I need not stop for supplies after I have started.

Cookie baking can be works of art – from drop cookies, bar cookies, cut-outs, filled cookies, iced cookies, to pinwheels. Each holiday season, I make many of the same cookies, but like to try some new ones too. And there may also be some mistakes, forgetting to add something or some that burn because you left them in the oven too long.

This year I baked with my grandchildren helping – putting the candy kisses on the cookies, dipping the cookies in chocolate, or decorating the sand tarts. It became an assembly line baking but in 2 hours we had 42 dozen --- and lots of fun, good memories, and cookies for giving and sharing…and plenty to serve our guests who come to the Bed and Breakfast over this Holiday Season. I am including one of my favorites.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies
¼ cup butter
2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate and ¾ cup chocolate chips in a large saucepan. Cook over low heat till melted. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Gradually add flour, b. powder, and salt, beating well. Add chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining ¾ cup chocolate chips and pecans. Drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Submitted by Ruth Harnish, Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast

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