These are representative of my annual negotiation with a warm weather Australian Christmas. Most days in December are too hot to bake – but without baking, Love Actually, and Buble’s Christmas crooning – what else is there to get me in the mood?
Malls are stressful, the post office tries one’s patience, and every women’s magazine is telling you to avoid canapés, load up on crudités and choose low-fat turkey breast (no skin!) over ham to avoid that holiday bloat!
My response is simple: butter, molasses and brown sugar. I seek solace and holiday cheer in the kitchen and bake like there’s a freaking blizzard outside.
Boldly spiced and chewy, these are my ultimate festive cookies. They taste like Christmas, even if it doesn’t totally feel like Christmas.
This time of year, Gammy (my totally awesome grandma) always brings out this tiered serving dish with old-timey Christmas trees painted on it. Each of the tiers display an assortment Christmas-colored candies like M&Ms (plain M&M’s in Christmas colors taste infinitely better than regular, amiright?), those spearmint gummy trees coated in sugar, and always always fun-sized, silver foil-wrapped York Peppermint Patties.
I’ve wanted to make homemade peppermint patties since I first realized that was a thing about 2 Christmases ago. Honestly, I don’t know what’s taken me so dang long. Besides the dough being a bit sticky, these little morsels were the easiest and most fun treats I’ve made this holiday season so far.
There are some recipes that call for butter or shortening or coconut oil but this one just uses egg whites…and a generous helping of powdered sugar.
As a life-long fan of the original York Peppermint Patty, I can attest to the fact that these are oh so close to the real thing. The snap of the dark chocolate and the slight crunch of the whipped peppermint filling (which is pretty much the edible equivalent to stepping into freshly fallen snow) – gaahhh. I can’t deal. I’m on a chocolate peppermint high.
I know the last thing you want to hear me talk about is how I STILL cannot deal with being in the opposite season of what I’m used to.
But it just doesn’t feel right, you guys.
The symbols of the holiday season are all out of place, for starters. There are no snowmen (or women), disposable pine trees or need for a yule log. And Santa’s apparel makes me sweat just looking at it. Get that man some shorts! Or at least some capri pants.
I started to wonder if the usual heady holiday baking spices were appropriate for the summertime?
I feel like the whole point of using lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves is to warm me up when it’s cold and I’m looking for some comfort wrapped in sugar wrapped in cake.
But really, the point of all of these awesome spices is to make it taste unmistakably like holiday time.
So short answer: they’re totally appropriate.
Ok, real fast word association game: I say Christmas, you say…
Cookies – right?
Well, you do where I’m from.
I was originally going to bake Captain Joe’s Famous Christmas Cookies this holiday season but the guy beat me to the punch! (I should mention Capt. Joe is my Dad.) Good ol’ Dad sent me two lots of vacuum-packed perfect-sized chocolate-and-walnut cookies (and an entire pecan pie!) – and they were as fresh as ever despite having traveled half-way across the globe.
Those cookies brought all sorts of warm and fuzzy Christmas feelings with them.
…. and gave me the Christmas cookie bug.
Since we were covered on the chocolate cookie front, I decided to make a classic and simple sugar cookie. No fancy decorating – just chewy, red sprinkle-speckled, not-too-sweet sugar cookies. I mean, they’re sweet – they’re sugar cookies. But I made them with salted butter and brown sugar to mix things up a little. I think it makes them all kinds of extra-awesome and even more addictive than usual.
Make these. Share them in pretty paper bags that you decorated yourself. It will make people smile.