I will preface this post with an admission: there is a lot of non-healthful talk going on here. You have been warned.
I’ve been a bit silent lately, taking in the holiday season, but also contemplating how to discuss a season of indulgence on a blog dedicated to just the opposite. Granted, the holiday season doesn’t have to be about OVER-indulgence, but I do think a bit of gratuitous eating, drinking, and gifting can be a welcome release at the end of a calendar year, especially when one spends most days focused on limiting, budgeting, evaluating, and critiquing every aspect of her food and health. It’s nice to JUST NOT CARE for a little bit. Therefore,
BRING ON THE COOKIES.
Christmas cookie baking has always been a part of my family’s holiday traditions. My mother has a slew of classic and unique recipes that she whips up every year: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, pineapple crescents, magic bars, date-nut pinwheels, candy cane cookies, cherry-sour-cream and spritz. Her cookie trays are something to behold, emblazoned with store-bought macaroons and foil-wrapped candies–beautiful. Despite this history with holiday cookies, I found myself wondering today, after leaving the grocery store with $60 of baking goods, “Why do I want to make cookies? I can feel dehydration, inflammation, and stomach aches coming on already from all of the butter and sugar. What the hell, “Healthful Mama?!” “
My negativity ends there as I conjure pictures of holidays of old, families eagerly awaiting the sweets that come only at certain times of the year. Exotic spices and sugar were used in the past solely for special occasions. Take into consideration that, nowadays, one can buy her favorite cookies, pre-made, in a box, at the grocery store two minutes away, on any given day, at any given hour… the concept of “special occasion” takes on new meaning. There is no concept of waiting for Christmas for those delicious snickerdoodles–they can be bought NOW. We don’t generally keep many sweets and snacks in our cupboards on a daily basis, but even so, I decided that if I’m baking Christmas cookies, I’m going ALL OUT, CHRISTMAS BALLS TO THE WALL, NO HOLDS BARRED, INSERT OTHER EXTREME EUPHEMISM HERE.
(Have you noticed I’m an all-or-none sort of person?)
So, here are my Christmas cookie picks, all five, over-indulgent picks:
- David Lebovitz’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
A friend introduced these to me and oh.my.god. I’m not sure I can ever go back to “regular” chocolate chip cookies again. Looking for European salted butter? Check the gourmet cheese section of your grocery store; that’s where I found mine.
- Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Chocolate Biscuits Hello, delicious.
- Rolled Sugar Cookies Okay, so this one is traditional, but since it’s mainly just a ton of butter and a heap of sugar (not to mention the sprinkles and decorating sugar), it’s indulgent to me.
- Ina Garten’s Dried Fruit Cookies Nothing too bad about these save for the sherry and the fruit are going to set me back in my holiday budgeting :-/
- Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies.
I’ve been seeing a number of recipes for these in various magazines and mentioned on television shows. I found this particular one in O Magazine.
The last cookie recipe in the list is what led to these products as cookie ingredients:
Which looked like this in the batter, along with coconut flakes, semi-sweet chocolate, and toffee bits:
After which, led me to say, “This cookie dough needs more Cheez Balls (or puffs–whatever 😉 ).” So, I added more cheese puffs, more toffee bits, and more Dude Ranch chips for good measure. The masterpieces:
After eating healthful so often, I thought I’d tear into these cookies and think they were so damn delicious I needed to abandon healthful living and become Cookie Queen, full time. The truth is, I’m more of a fan of spicy cookies or those with simple ingredients, and I just didn’t find these that great. All I tasted was an overly-sweet cookie with oddly-shaped chunks (no rewarding bite of ranch flavoring paired with toffee nor cheesy puff accompanying dark chocolate). Perhaps I should have used standard junk food full of artificial flavorings and colors and preservatives?
I’m hoping the rest of my holiday baking is more successful. Until then, my husband is enjoying the junk food 😉What is your favorite type of cookie? Have any recipes I should try?