Technically speaking, it’s Christmas “week”, right? If we are subject to holiday decor starting the day after Halloween, and nonstop jingle belling on the radio, then following that line of thinking, the whole giving presents thing should be spread out over a few days after the actual day of the 25th, right? In that spirit, I’ve decided to begin a campaign to broaden the actual day of gifting to a week. True, there is already one holiday around the same time of year that involves eight nights of giving, so why not two? It doesn’t have to be eight nights either. Just a day or two after the 25th.
Oh all right, I confess. This is all a ruse. A thinly veiled excuse as to why half my family and friends will be opening a box from the way out west on the 26th…or 27th. Unfortunately, I haven’t finished mailing all my presents in time for the Santa express. The baking got baked, the presents bought and the halls bedecked, but the gift wrapping, bubble wrapping, newspaper crinkling and shoving in a box headed east….well, not exactly. When the elf moves clear across the country from all her elfin present targets, it’s hard keeping up with the elf race. Come on…I should get special dispensation this year, shouldn’t I? Three thousand miles and three time zones worth at the very least. I mean, it’s not like I was dawdling, catching up on exploits of real housewives or pageant toddlers. I was baking and cooking and entertaining. You know, all the other activities and affiliated ho-ho-ho goings on. And I had the best intentions of fitting all the “its” in their designated shipping boxes, really I did. But suddenly it was four days, then three, and now just two. I even get screwed on the time zones being all the way out here. It’s actually closer to the holiday in my gift giving zone. Let’s face it…the stockings are stacked against me. So in the interest of diverting attentions away from the mailbox for the next day or two, I suggest all those effected by the lag in postal deliveries from westward directions occupy their time elsewhere. Perhaps baking. In fact, as an act of selfless generosity, I’ll even get you started. Here are a few favorites from my holiday cookie jar. And as far as those tardy presents go? Just think of it as Christmas, every day!
Makes about 24-30 cookies, depending upon the size of your cookie cutter
- 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 TBSP cream or milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (you can substitute your favorite chocolate.) There will probably be leftover melted chocolate, so I usually pick up some dried apricots, candied orange peel, pretzels or fresh strawberries when I know I’m making these cookies for a little extra dip-worthy delight.
Additional equipment: heart-shaped cookie cutter
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Thoroughly cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg, then milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, then add them to the butter mixture and incorporate thoroughly. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together in a ball, then pat out into a disk. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to about ¼” thick and cut out into hearts. Collect the scraps and re-roll (try not to add too much flour or you’ll get tough cookies.) Bake for 10-12 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets. Cool completely on rack before dipping.
Melt chocolate over a water bath (bowl over simmering water) or in the microwave (use 30 second intervals so you don’t scorch the chocolate). Dip one half of the cookie in the chocolate. Cool on parchment or wax paper covered tray at room temp for about 30 minutes then put in fridge for the chocolate to harden completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool place. I like to store in fridge and bring to room temperature before serving. These freeze well too. Calories: approximately 125 per cookie.
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