The first cookies were created by accident. Before there were ovens as we know them today, cooks had to test the flavors and oven temperature before baking a large cake so they wouldn’t ruin the whole recipe. They would wisely use a small amount of cake batter to bake for the test. And so the story goes that this is how the cookie was born. Before long, cookies became very popular and recipes for cookies began to appear in cookbooks.
Since the 1930s, children have left cookies and milk on a table for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Christmas cookies were often cut into candy canes, reindeer, and holly leaves and made into ornaments to be hung on the Christmas tree. Every family has their own assortment of Christmas cookie favorites.
These little buttery bites of dough are loved by everyone all year round but especially at Christmas time. Butter, sugar and flour, just three simple ingredients lovingly join together to create these thin, sweet, small cakes.
There are hundreds and hundreds of recipes for cookies just as there are hundreds and hundreds of recipes for meats and vegetables. No one cookbook could hold all the recipes and no one person could live long enough to make every recipe.
If you are on a mission to make several different varieties of cookies, planning is really important. Read the recipes. Have all the ingredients in the house. Do as much preparing ahead as you can such as chopping nuts. From my year's of experience with baking cookies, there are two suggestions I can offer:
1. Start making your cookie dough right after Halloween, wrap it tightly and freeze it. The recipe will advise if you can freeze the dough or not. Don't forget to label each package and keep the recipes handy. If they are from different books, make a list of where they are so you can easily find them when your ready to do your bake off. Then just defrost the dough in the refrigerator a day before.
2. Start right after Thanksgiving and if you work as I do, make a batch or two in the morning before work, wrap tightly, label and place in the refrigerator. When you come home after work, bake a batch and make another batch and refrigerate; cool and store the baked cookies in covered tins. You don't have to do this everyday but if you do you will have a bunch of cookies to wrap and give to family and friends for the holidays. Everyone loves home baked cookies.
Some cookies such as biscotti or molasses cookies will store well for 2 weeks or more in cookie tins.
There are people who bake then freeze the cookies and this can work well too.
Here’s a simple cookie recipe everyone can enjoy even those on gluten-free diets. It is one of my many favorites. I sometimes place half a candied cherry in the center before baking.
This is an original recipe for coconut macaroons that is actually made without flour so it can be enjoyed by all.
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 (14-ounce) package flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt with electric mixer on high speed soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Fold in coconut.
Using an ice cream scoop drop coconut mixture in mounds on prepared cookie sheets. Place on separate racks in oven. Bake 20 minutes. Turn off oven; let cookies dry in oven 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 28 cookies.
Variation: For small cookies drop dough by teaspoons. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand and cool as above. They also can be drizzled with melted chocolate chips. Makes 60 cookies.
Store in an airtight container in single layer at room temperature up to 3 days. Freeze on a sheet pan then store between sheets of waxed paper in a covered cookie tin or container up to 3 months. Buon Natale!