A couple days ago, I talked about how much I love the holiday tradition of wrapping presents. The other holiday activity I really love is baking. My mom is a great baker, and she churned out a ton of treats every year for Christmas. Here is a list of what we looked forward to every December:
- Butter Balls (I think some people call them Mexican wedding cookies)
- Almond Crescents
- Sugar Cookies
- Vanilla Spritz
- Chocolate Spritz
- Vanilla, Cherry, and Coconut filled chocolates
- Filbert Fingers
I used to love to perch on a chair on the other side of the kitchen counter and watch her make it all. She would let us help with the decorating, like shaking colored sugar and sprinkles onto the Spritz cookies, and decorating the sugar cookies with frosting and cinnamon candies. And of course, I loved eating it all too. A few years ago, I had her teach me how to make all her cookie recipes, and it’s been fun to recreate those childhood goodies, along with new recipes I’ve picked up from friends and magazines over the years.
But I have noticed that I always end up throwing a lot of cookies away in early January. My mom was making cookies for a family of four, and I am making them for a family of two – one of whom travels a lot. So things just don’t get eaten. Not to mention, though Ron claims he likes ALL the cookies, the only thing he really ends up eating out of everything I make is this stuff called matzoh roca, which is a recipe I got from my friend Amy, who is Jewish. She makes the matzoh roca for Passover, and calls it “Passover Crack”, and I can see why – sweet, salty, toffee-y and chocolately, it is super delicious and addictive. The first time I tried it, I was in a meeting where Amy had brought some in to share, and I think I devoured 90% of it in the course of an hour, and ultimately asked her for the recipe. It is the only treat Ron specifically asks me to make, and the only thing he refuses to let me give away to friends.
Ever since we started meal planning a few months ago, we have gotten really good at not wasting food, and I wanted the trend to continue for the holidays. While I was determined to still enjoy some baking this year, I was equally resolved to not to have to throw away any cookies either. So instead of making ALL the cookies I know and love from childhood and beyond, I picked the top four favorites I was craving – frosted gingerbread, frosted sugar cookies, cherry chocolate chip pistachio biscotti (recipe courtesy of my friend Laura of Pastry Girl), and the matzoh roca. A nice mix of a little chocolate, a little vanilla, a little spice, a little Mom, a little Martha Stewart, a little Pastry Girl, and a little Passover. Perfect. I did debate doing the almond crescents as well, but I couldn’t help but feel like they might be one cookie more than we would actually consume, and I was also trying to keep my ingredient costs down as much as possible.
Then I had my friend Lori come over with my godsons, Jake and Sam, and I packed up about 70% of what I had made and sent it home with them. Lori is not super fond of baking (check out the blog she wrote about that very issue for the Huffington Post, here), but she is a fan of treats, and the boys are always willing to decorate and eat whatever I make. Having them come over and help decorate was super fun, and I love being a part of their Christmas memories. I did make Lori her own batch of the matzoh roca, since that is her favorite treat as well, and Ron was adamant about not sharing his. I also gave a plate’s worth of cookies to my friend Nikki, who was getting ready to do some traveling for the holidays, so it worked out perfect for her to have someone else do the holiday baking as well.
I think what I kept for Ron and I to eat is the perfect amount – I am confident most of the cookies will be gone by Christmas – definitely by New Year’s – with nothing going stale or to waste. I was finally able to fit in all the fun of making the holiday sweets, without getting sick of them or tossing anything. That is a tradition I would definitely like to keep!