My blog name is all about bread and only about bread. But in December, baking thoughts always turn to cookies. My friends Cathy and Joanne and I always get together and spend a day baking cookies. We usually turn out about ten or twelve different kinds, but this year we slowed down a bit.
Actually, there had already been a cookie day at the Wolf household. Elizabeth and her boyfriend Joe baked and designed sugar cookies. I wanted to get some new and fancy cookie cutters, but, oddly, Williams-Sonoma had nothing except some that you could put together (Tab A in Slot A) and make three-dimensional cookie Santa scenes. They looked kind of stupid, so we resisted. As always, the cookie decorating works better in theory than in practice. The tiny frosting dots come out in unwieldy blobs, and the colors are always a little off. But it was a good way to spend an evening.
were not happy about being photographed. I had to promise them I would not post their photos on the blog, but they should know me by now to know that that was just a flat-out lie.
I made Cashew Puffies, from Rose's Christmas Cookie Book. I must always bake at least one cookie from her book every year. I thought maybe cashews would be too strong a flavor for cookies, and I don't really like the name "puffies," but these were excellent cookies. The taste was not at all too strong, and the cookies were a little puffy, so I couldn't hold the name against them.
My second cookie was Mocha Pecan Balls, a Mexican Wedding Cake kind of cookie, only with cocoa and instant espresso powder added. This is a recipe from epicurious.com that I've had for years.
Cathy made a cream cheese lemon cookie with lemon icing, sprinkled with walnuts. She is a champion icer, and her cookies always look pretty. She also made another old favorite, a chocolate drop cookie with chocolate-mint icing. We've been making these for 15 or 20 years--they're from an old Ladies Home Journal. She wasn't supposed to, but she cheated and brought some krumkake, or some Norwegian cookie that requires a special iron. Minnesota is full of Norwegians and Swedes, and their specialties--lingonberries, lutefisk, lefse, Swedish meatballs, rosettes, krumkake, etc.--are always dragged out for Christmas Eve. I am very grateful that my Christmas traditions do not include white fish preserved in lye. Actually, she cheated twice because she also made some non-bake Christmas cookies. Her mother and my mother always made these: they contain peanut butter, cocoa, and oatmeal, and people love them even though they're not awfully pretty.
Oops--I guess I never took a picture of the chocolate cookies. They look like chocolate cookies, and are also from the old Ladies Home Journal.
Joanne made a very nice apricot-coconut bar that is from a cookbook with a name I can't remember. It's written by a woman who has a bakery in New York that is apparently very, very famous. Her second cookie was another old standby--the cranberry-white chocolate drop cookie. Sometimes when we make these we add macadamia nuts, but not this time.
The challenge now is to give them all away instead of eating them. This challenge is complicated by the fact that other people give you their Christmas cookies too, so sometimes even when you give cookies away, you end up with a net gain. Elizabeth tells me I am losing this battle and I must give more away. I tell her I am giving bread away this year, and it eats into my cookie giveaways. She tells me I must do better.