I am NOT baking Christmas cookies this year. Repeat. Not Baking Cookies This Year. It’s official. No cookies for You-Know-Who-You-Are. The time! The work! The expense! The insufficient appreciation (no amount could be enough) for the weeks of baking and hundreds of dollars worth of the finest obtainable unsalted butter, flour, sugars (4 types), eggs, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, couverture chocolate, cocoa, spices, extracts, multi-hued sanding sugars/glitters/lusters, and lord knows what else.
Not to mention the days and weeks spent going over my notes from past cookie creations and pouring through cookbooks and magazines for inspiration. Not to mention the mandatory trip across the Lake Washington bridge in early evening rush hour traffic (how do people do this every day?) to make it to the best (maybe only) cookie baking shop in the universe, Cookies in Seattle, before they close at 6:00, so that I can stock up on the latest cookie paraphernalia. Not to mention the weeks of extreme kitchen chaos and mess-flour over all the counters, cookie cutters piled high to the moon, baking sheets spread over every available surface, mounds of bowls, beaters, and utensils waiting to be washed.
Not Worth It! I am done being a sucker, a wimp, and a fool. You-Know-Who-You-Are probably won’t even notice that they aren’t getting any Christmas cookies this year.
Wow, that was great. Thank you for listening. I feel so much better.
Now that I have publicly confessed my abhorrence of this obsessive, compulsive, completely lunatic-and not in a good way-yearly ritual, a ritual I have faithfully reenacted every year since the age of eight, let’s get right to the game plan, shall we?
Mom and I always reserved the weekend after Thanksgiving for Christmas cookie baking. We baked from dawn to dusk for two days, filling tin after tin with frosted, sprinkled, rolled, and shaped cookies, which we expected somehow to survive uneaten until Mom’s Christmas eve celebration, which came complete with Santa Claus appearance (Dad), presents for the dozen or so cousins, a spectacular holiday buffet, and merry making all around.
When the tradition gradually passed to me, I amped it up just a bit. Not the Christmas eve party (although I did do that one year, spending several weeks in advance impersonating a complete lunatic), but the cookie baking. Because by then I was a working girl by day, I baked every night after work for three weeks, beginning, as Mom had instilled in me, the weekend after Thanksgiving. The original eight large tins of cookies became dozens of tins, until last year, the entire kitchen was wall-to-wall cookies, packed in white boxes filled with chartreuse raffia, complete with the LunaCafe label on each one. My obsession seems to be turning into a business, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Baking for the LunaCafe blog this year is a little tricky, as I cannot reveal or even get close to the super-secret formulations (10 years of dreaming, development, and testing) of LunaCafe OtherWorldly Artisan Cookies, which I hope to officially launch into the world in this lifetime. There are already at least 2 individuals, whose names I shall not mention, who have tried repeatedly to guilt me into giving them the formulas (we won’t tell, we promise). However, concerning those particular recipes, I have a mind of steel and a heart of stone.
Nevertheless, the recipes I will share with you this year are tried, true, and terrific. They are the best-of-the-best in flavor, texture, and overall appeal, honed over many years of obsessive testing. They are true Christmas cookies, which for me means that they have the following attributes:
- Excellent keepers (must store and/or freeze for 3+ weeks)
- Very, very buttery
- Dry, light, tender, and/or crisp-rather than chewy or moist
- 3-bite maximum, meaning small in size, so you can serve a variety
- Beautiful and festive
- Fun to make, fun to eat, fun to give
Here then is the LunaCafe Christmas 2008 Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies extravaganza. Beginning on December 1st, I will post daily until we complete the list on December 12th. If you bake along, one cookie a day, you will have a wonderful selection of holiday cookies to share with family and friends, with time to spare. But whatever you do, you must come back on December 12th when I will debut the recipe for Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor-the single best cookie in the entire universe. Which is of course why we are saving it until last.
- On the 1st day of Christmas: Lily’s Swedish Vanilla Spritz
- On the 2nd day of Christmas: Orange Vanilla Sugar Cookies
- On the 3rd day of Christmas: Triple Lemon Teacakes
- On the 4th day of Christmas: Once in a Chocolate-Spice Moon Cookies
- On the 5th day of Christmas: Peppermint Stick Shortbread
- On the 6th day of Christmas: Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies
- On the 7th day of Christmas: Almond Black Cherry Shortbread
- On the 8th day of Christmas: Green Tea and Rose Spritz
- On the 9th day of Christmas: Almond Butter Poinsettia Cookies
- On the 10th day of Christmas: Lemon Orange Pecan Thumbprints
- On the 11th day of Christmas: Candy Cane Butter Cookies
- On the 12th day of Christmas: Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor
But first you need to get prepared. If you plan to bake your way through these cookies, you will need approximately 10 pounds of unsalted butter (Trader Joes) several 5-pound bags of King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour; a couple dozen eggs; 6+ lemons; 6+ limes, 6+ oranges; 6 ounces of candy canes; lemon, lime, and orange oils (or extracts if you can’t locate the oils); unsweetened cocoa; vanilla extract; almond extract; food coloring; pecans; almond meal (Trader Joes); spices; dark corn syrup; black cherry preserves; meringue powder (baking isle); fresh baking powder; and a variety of sanding sugars, sprinkles, and lusters. You will also need cello bags, boxes, and/or tins, along with ribbon to package your creations. And don’t forget cookie cutters, spritz maker, disposable icing bags, tips and couplings, offset spatula, cooling racks, baking sheets and parchment paper.
The Decorette Shop (Portland)
5338 SE Foster Road
Portland, OR 97206
Kitchen Kaboodle (Portland)
In Good Taste (Portland)
2211 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
Home Cake Decorating Supply (Seattle)
9514 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
Mrs. Cooks (Seattle)
Into the Oven(online)
Fancy Flours (online)
India Tree (online)