It’s Christmas Cookie Time! - Random Reasonings

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It’s Christmas Cookie Time!

Did you know? The favorite Christmas cookie in the U.S. is the peanut butter blossom.

That’s according to General Mills, and Betty Crocker backs it up with their list of the favorite Christmas cookies by state.

It surprised me because I’ve never, ever made that cookie … not even at Christmas.

What’s your favorite “must have” cookie at Christmas?

For me, it’s sand tarts. If I didn’t make sand tarts it just wouldn’t be Christmas.

Obviously, the person who eats the most cookies every Christmas is Santa. “Experts” estimate that he eats 300 million Christmas cookies each Christmas Eve!

The tradition of putting out cookies and milk for Santa started in the 1930s during the great depression. Times were hard and putting out cookies for Santa was a good example for children about sharing even when they didn’t have much to share.

I think the “sharing” aspect is why I love sand tarts.

When I was little my grandma and mom made sand tarts every Christmas. From the time I was big enough to reach the counter by standing on a stool, I helped. I brushed the cutout shapes with the egg white wash – the stars, stockings, bells, trees, snowmen and holly leaves – and sprinkled the colored sugars on them. Baking sand tarts was something we did together. It was a Christmas tradition we shared and I looked forward to it every year.

It’s a tradition I’ve continued.

When my son was little I included him in decorating sand tarts on cookie baking days. He loved it too and did it with me every year until he finally out-grew it, as kids eventually do.

Now my grandson loves to come help decorate the sand tarts with me. We’re doing it tomorrow! So the tradition is now in the 5th generation of my family and I hope that someone will continue it when I am no longer here. I will happily pass down my recipe.

Of course I bake other cookies too.

This year my others will be a new spin on chocolate chip cookies (with some Kahlua in them), thumb print cookies, snickerdoodles (my son’s favorite), sugar cookies (which all the grandkids love), molasses cookies (my husband’s favorite), cinnamon raisin cookies, and two new recipes I’m trying – Antoinettes (a raspberry-filled sandwich cookie with chocolate frosting on top) and Pink Ice cookies (a no-bake cookie made with white chocolate and crushed peppermints.)

Cookie Baking is one of the most universally popular holiday activities. 93% of households will bake Christmas cookies this year. Most of the baking is done about 10 days to 2 weeks before the holiday. Especially for people who package and ship them to relatives they won’t see at Christmas.

If you’re baking this year, how many different types of cookies will you make?

Seven seems to be the agreed on number for the correct variety.  It stems from Nordic and old European folklore and traditions where seven is thought to be a lucky number.

Many cookie bakers have adapted the ”rule of seven” to reflect one each of the seven different types of cookies. There are dropped cookies, molded cookies, rolled, cutout, pressed, bar, and no-bake cookies. To be “cookie correct” at Christmas, they make one of each type.

There are old-fashioned favorites too that were standards on my mom’s and grandma’s Christmas cookie list, such as Cherry Winks, Michigan Rock cookies, and Raisin Filled cookies. Because they’re old fashioned cookies I suspect lots of people have never heard of them. I have all those recipes but haven’t made them in years. Perhaps in one of my future Christmases I’ll do some nostalgia baking and include those.

Families that celebrate Hannakuh have special cookies too that are a significant part of the events in the eight days of Hannakuh. Rugelach is a delicious buttery cookie filled with nuts, chocolate and raisins, and dreidel surprise cookies are kid favorites because of the treats hidden inside.

The Betty Crocker list of favorite holiday cookies includes many that I’ve never made. Russia Tea Cakes are second on that list right after the peanut butter blossoms. In their snowball shape, covered with confectioners sugar, they lend a winter-wonderland effect to a plate of cookies.

Spritz and chocolate crinkle cookies are two other types at the top of that list. I’ve made both of these in prior Christmases, but they weren’t popular enough with my family to continue them. Perhaps the uniqueness of our cookies is part of what makes the way we celebrate the season unique to each of us.

Whatever you’re baking this year, savor the sweetness those cookies add to this festive season and have fun sharing them with your family, friends, and those who are special in your life.

“It’s much harder to be sad while eating a cookie.”

Jane Lee Logan

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