Dec 26, 2017

Posted by in Featured, Life & Musings | 0 Comments

Cookiepalooza: My Christmas Cookie Tradition

Chocolate Crinkles

Anyone who knows me beyond a quick glance has likely heard about the thousands of cookies I bake this time of the year. Typically, the response I get when a person finds out is a very shocked “are you crazy”, or some similar iteration of that phrase. The amount of baking I do, despite continuing to function in normal society (like going to work full time and such), is honestly a challenge and I can understand why a lot of people can’t grasp my level of dedication to it. For me though, the cookies are a labor of love, and they were inspired by my paternal grandmother.

Eggnog Butter Crinkles

Every year for Christmas, my grandmother gave out cookie trays to each of her children (and their spouse/children if they were married). In addition, she made trays for close friends and other family members. I have very fond memories of excitedly waiting after Thanksgiving for the cookie tray to arrive, so we could all lay claim to our very favorites immediately. Grandma made quite the variety, and there were only a few that I didn’t care for. Things with coconut shavings or pecans… blech. Not to my taste (mom was always happy, those were her favs and in our house she was the only one who liked them haha). There were, however, these delicious ones that hid gumdrops, cherries, and otherwise. Or some that looked like candy canes. So many others, too, but those were always the ones I wanted to eat the most of.

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Maternal Side

This year my paternal Aunt called to tell me it would officially be my grandmother’s last year baking the cookies with her friend, Marie. From what I was told, this was their 50th anniversary baking together, and it was time for it to be their last. Likely Marie will continue to bake cookies on her own, but my grandmother has been sick for a while and it is time for her to retire from the cookies.

Sadly, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, and it’s been a fairly rapid decline ever since. We suspect she was already sick while she was caring for my ailing grandfather, but because of the routine of all that care it didn’t readily show itself.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Paternal Side

Thankfully, I started my venture into baking Christmas cookies before she really started to rapidly decline, and as such started to integrate some of the recipes I loved of hers while she was still able to give me some tips and tricks for them. So slowly, ever so slowly, I’ve been building up my cookie game to match hers.

Soft Batch Sprinkle Cookies

Now that the torch is being passed to me though, officially, it’s probably time to start getting the rest of grandma’s recipes so I can bring about the full magic of the cookie trays that she started. I have a couple of the recipes, but there are a couple other family-favorites that need to be added to my box of baking magic too. My only policy is that I won’t bake a cookie that I won’t eat myself… so there will be no pecans or coconuts on my trays. My mother likes to make those though, so sometimes she’ll bake those cookies to add to my trays, and then it’s a group effort. ♥

Butter Dreams
Maternal Side

Of course, I’m not just from one family. When I started doing my own cookie trays, I rummaged through my mother’s recipe box for cookies to make and so I have recipes in use from her side of the family too. It makes my trays a unique combination of who I am, and where I came from, which I love greatly. In addition, it allows my family members to have the experience of enjoying recipes they grew up with at the holidays.

Still though, those aren’t the only recipes! I also have found some wonderful recipes online (some from the recommendation of friends), and adding them into my trays means that now it’s a combination of both my maternal family and paternal family, plus myself.

Shortbread Thumbprints

Every year I bake more and more cookies, too. I always want to out-do myself until I am finally settled into a pattern of who I give to annually with how many others will rotate in and out depending on how a year goes. After all, there are those who I was very close to for years who I no longer am in contact with now, and vise-versa. That’s just how life goes, and so I honor that.

My biggest goal at the moment though, is I’d like to have the time and resources to bake enough extra cookies to deliver them to the City Mission of Schenectady, NY for those who are less fortunate to enjoy after their Christmas dinner.

Buttery Spritz
Maternal Side

Right now even though I end up with a lot of extra, I don’t have enough extra to actually bring them to the center. So this year I’ll be in touch more frequently with my contact there to get a feel for what I need to plan on having in order to donate. That, and how they need to be presented for donation. I typically tray my cookies to give away to friends and family (or put them in tins, if I’m mailing them). I don’t know if that will work for the City Mission or not. I’ll have to find out.

Cream Cheesey Spritz
Paternal Side

This year I baked over the course of three weeks almost, working after I would get home from my job and getting one kind done a night where I was able. I missed a couple of nights, and my weekend ended up dedicated to a friend’s cookies (and then to crafts for my Etsy shop, Dancer’s Dream Boutique). It was a long haul, and I’ve already decided that next year I am going to take a week off from work and just bake cookies like crazy. That way I can bake more of each kind, and I can do more than one kind a day. Should work out well, I hope.

Candy Canes (technically, I changed them to not be done like that, but it’s the name of the recipe)
Paternal Side

Overall, to give an idea, I baked 121.6 dozen cookies (1,460 to be exact) to give away to friends and family, on top of which I helped my friend bake 61.8 dozen; making my overall total a whopping 183.4 dozen cookies! Thankfully, I did have some help this year, in years past I stubbornly did it all myself. My friend Gwen came over to keep me company and be my second for a lot of it, my father filled in occasionally, and there were a few rare times that my fiance Pete joined in. While I still did 75%+ of the work myself, just having another body makes things go a bit more smoothly and be less boring. There’s a lot to be said about having someone else who can be dedicated to moving trays through the double-ovens, or rolling balls of dough in sugar so that you don’t have to keep switching tasks.

Next year, onto greater and greater amounts of cookies! 1,500+ I’m guessing! ♥

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