Planning for Christmas Baking

Posted by barb on Nov 30, 2004 in Random Thoughts |

I want to get started on my Christmas baking this weekend, since Andrew will be at a conference in town and I’ll have the house mostly to myself. Now this might seem like a trivial issue, but deciding which cookies and candy to make actually takes quite a bit of thought. First, I have to look at the types of cookies I’ve made before, and think about their pluses and minuses.

  • Sugar cookies — this one is a no-brainer. I always make sugar cookies — the kind that you roll out and decorate. I collect cookie cutters, so I need an excuse to use them.
  • Spritz cookies — I remember making these with my Mom when I was a kid. They are almost as fun as sugar cookies, especially if the cookie-shooter is working properly. They don’t have chocolate but can be make in various colors, which makes them pretty on a cookie platter.
  • English toffee — this is a candy that I also remember making with my Mom as a child. It’s also a no-brainer, since it’s probably my favorite candy. Unfortunately I’ve had trouble getting the recipe right the last couple years…I don’t think I heat it enough, which makes it chewy instead of crisp. I’ll try again, though, this year.
  • Fudge — another childhood favorite. I’m not sure about making it this year. It’s very good, but also very rich. Plus it doesn’t look all that pretty on a cookie platter.
  • Cornflake wreaths — the first time I made this was at a family activity night at church when I was a kid. We had never made them before, but they were a lot of fun and look very pretty. They are a lot like rice crispie bars, but with corn flakes and green food-coloring. I’ve made them pretty much every year since that first time. These will most likely be on my final list this year.
  • Noname candy — we got the recipe for this from some friends of my parents the year we visited Florida over Christmas vacation (1979-1980). It’s got mini marshmellows and peanuts in a fudge/peanut butter yummy-ness. I don’t usually make this one, though, because it competes with the fudge.
  • Nanaimo bars — Andrew introduced me to this candy. I first made it several years ago when a recipe appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune while I was visiting one week. I started putting into the Christmas rotation a couple years ago because it’s one of his favorites.
  • Cooky Candies — I discovered this one my first Christmas in Maryland while paging through The Cooky Book (Betty Crocker; the original one). They are chocolate frosted cookies decorated with choclate shots, rainbow sprinkles, nuts or anything you want to dip the cookie in after frosting it. They are quite yummy, and can look good on the plate if they’re decorated with holiday-type decorations (like red and green sprinkles).
  • Candy cane cookies — mom had written “not worth the work” next to this recipe in her copy of The Cooky Book, which was just and invitation for me to try them. They are actually pretty good — standard cookies with candy cane dust. And these are pretty on a cookie plate — they look like candy canes. They are a lot of work, as mom said, but they might just be worth it.
  • Russian tea cakes — another classic.
  • Toffee squares — I loved making these as a kid because they required putting Hershey bars on the warm bars and watching them melt. These are the bar-verson of English toffee.
  • Thumbprint cookies — I’ve added these to the list this year because Andrew likes “jam cookies”.

Whew! That’s a lot of choices. I try to make a couple different candies (hmmm…I didn’t add divinity to the list; I’ll have to consider that, too), and about four cookies plus the cornflake wreaths. I try to balance how much chocolate — I love chocolate, but it’s best to not be too chocolate-heavy with Christmas cookie platters.

So, what will I make this year? Here are the winners: sugar cookies, english toffee, Russian tea cakes, nanaimo bars, cornflake wreaths and thumbprint cookies. I reserve the right to pick one more…or delete one if it gets to be too much baking this weekend.

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