The calendar strikes December 1st. And with the brightest of holiday intentions, a bit of amnesia, and dreams of white-frosted Christmas cookies that sparkle with silver nonpareils, we buy a 20kg package of cane sugar.
As it happens in the Okanagan, this is often the day of the first snow. Everything outside shimmers. The air is crisp, but not cold. And it’s as though good will is a product of frost.
Then suddenly there it is: The inspiration to bake sugar cookies and pfeffernusses, shortbread and gingerbread.
There will be chocolate snowballs, dusted in white. Marzipan snowmen and candy cane crisps. A different cookie for every day of Advent.
And because the spirit of sharing has sifted into the air like so much flour and icing sugar, we can’t help but think that cookies, not retail, are the perfect way to spread the sweetness of the season to everyone we know.
It may very well be that we’ve indulged in a little too much vanilla.
But when we think of all those confections, nestled in snap-latch jars and decorative tins lined with ornately trimmed baking parchment, we are moved by the seasonal aesthetic of it all.
So we decide that, this year, come winter blizzard or butter shortage, sugar will be our calling card; mint snow top cookies and pistachio cranberry biscotti for all!
Now, wouldn’t that be nice?
Nearly halfway to Christmas, however, there is too much list and too few cookies. And unless we can suss out some celiac or hyperglycemia in the columns, our loved (and liked) ones will have to be sorted along lines of naughty-and-not.
But who’s to say that friends with refined taste deserve mocha swaddled rum balls, while others should have store bought slices of extruded reindeer cookies?
No. It simply will not do.
So please excuse me. Or join me, or turn the page for more Pear Tree. Because here in the test kitchen, there are sugary spritz cookies, raspberry rugelachs, chewy Noels and red currant jam-jams in the shape of pinecones to be baked.
½ pound butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar on
medium speed until mixture is fluffy and pale. Add egg yolks and vanilla and
combine well. Add about 2/3 of the flour and beat until blended.
Transfer dough to a clean work surface and knead in the remaining flour. Place in a clean bowl and chill, covered, for 30-40 minutes.
Following the manufacturers’ directions for your cookie press, press cookies onto
Silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Decorate with coloured sugars, chopped maraschino cherries and other holiday cookie decorations.
Bake at 350F for 9 minutes, until cookies are barely beginning to turn golden around the edges (this will be almost imperceptible, so watch carefully). Let set a few minutes, then transfer to baking racks to cool completely.
Photo and story by Darcie Hossack
The Pear Tree is pleased to welcome Kelowna-based food writer Darcie Hossack into the fold. Darcie’s food contribution will appear once a month, beginning today. We hope she inspires your inner culinary streak, as she surely does ours.