Cookies For The Big Guy

It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees...

And making Grinch omelets.

But I promised you cookies and, for the sake of a jolly old guy in a red suit, cookies you shall get.

Classic Christmas cookies - cut-out sugar cookies piped with royal icing, usually - are fun to make and nice to look at (especially these. And these), but sometimes they're, um... annoying. And before you gasp and yell "blasphemy!" I should tell you that I'm Jewish, so, you know. That's already sort of a done deal.

I love a good classic Christmas cookie, but a good classic Christmas cookie takes time and patience. The mixing, the rolling, the chilling, the baking, the cooling. Then the mixing of the royal icing and the coloring and the piping and the flooding and then, quite importantly, the drying. Only then can you bite the head off an unsuspecting snowman.

This Christmas, I'm going for simplicity and warm, comforting flavor. Chocolate chip. Pumpkin whoopie pies. Chewy holiday spiced snickerdoodles!

I think, even for a Jew, Santa would approve.

Chewy Holiday Spiced Snickerdoodles
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups sugar, plus extra (about 1/4 cup extra) for rolling
  • 3 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon,
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl.

Combine the 1.5 cups sugar and the cream cheese in a large bowl, then pour the warm butter on top and whisk to combine. The mixture will be slightly lumpy. Whisk in the oil until combined, and then add the egg, milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture all at once, and beat gently until the dough forms.

Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, portion out the dough by the heaping tablespoon, and roll gently into balls. Put some sugar in a shallow bowl (about 1/4 cup) and stir in the spices. Roll each dough ball in the spice/sugar mixture, and place on a baking sheet, evenly spaced. Gently press each ball of dough with your hand or the back of a drinking glass to flatten slightly. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just set and the cookies look slightly cracked. If you can't decide if they're done, take the cookies out of the oven. In the case of these chewy delights, underbaked is better than over.

Serve with a tall glass of milk for Santa, and maybe a side of carrots for Rudolph et al.


Just Take A Second

I know I should be focusing on holiday cookies right now (both today's snow flurries and the calendar say we're well into December), but I want to linger over Thanksgiving for a bit. I mean, at this point, what's the harm in another piece of pie?

classic pumpkin pie

roast capon

Gramma Inez's pumpkin cheesecake with cranberry swirl

roasted root vegetables

Or some homemade brioche rolls?

sweet potato brioche rolls

sweet potatoes with pecans and parmesan. and toasted mallows.

roasted Brussels sprouts with crispy pancetta

Can I just take a second to say... yum?

I've been basking in the full-bellied warmth of Thanksgiving for the past week and a half, thinking about all the time spent in the kitchen, the scent of warm butter, fresh herbs, and toasted pecans, Emily's très adorable table decorations, and the hilarity that ensues when you combine a table full of cousins and an iPhone app called "FatBooth."

Julie, Casey & Teddy post FatBooth

new cousin Julie (yay!) and Casey

Mama and Popsicle

As far as I'm concerned, cookies can wait another week. I'd rather have another slice of pie.

I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie

With that in mind, allow me to present my official 2010 Pie Lover's Gift Guide:
So, there you have it - a comprehensive guide to most things pie, just in time for the holidays. Next stop - cookieville.