Baking up Some Love, & #giveaway

Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston, delighted to have my entire brood home for the holidays. I’ll send one lucky US commenter a copy of Christmas Cocoa Murder!

Anybody who knows me knows I like to cook. It’s no surprise two of my three series include recipes. And I particularly like to bake. My mother wasn’t an accomplished savory cook, but boy, could she bake sweets. I grew up making cookies and pies with her, and watching with wonder as she decorated cakes like a professional – she could even make icing roses.

Marilyn Muller in about 2000.

For Christmas, like our own Wicked Barb, I always bake cookies. The 3″ x 5″ cards I’ve had since I was a teenager hold the recipes I copied out from my mom, who in turned learned them from her mother and her mother-in-law.

I stock up on pounds and pounds of butter, make sure I have containers of red and green sugars and powdered sugar, and dig out the box of cookie cutters and the Spritz press.

I (as Maddie Day) included one easy stand-by in my novella, “Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse” in Christmas Cocoa Murder. The recipe for Mexican Bridecakes came down from my father’s mother, Dorothy. My cousins on that side and my sisters bake these, too. You can make the dough ahead of time.

When you need a plate of fresh cookies, press them out, bake, cut, and dust with powdered sugar!

Besides Bridecakes, I cut out sugar cookies and decorate with red and green sugars. I press out Spritz cookies, finding exactly the right dough temperature and pressure to make sure they stick to the pan.

I make gingerbread men and women, using chocolate chips for eyes, noses, and buttons (and sometimes, irreverently, body parts…). We don’t frost Christmas cookies in my house.

A few of the less fortunate gingerbread people – still yummy!

Four years ago my son Allan and I attempted to bake a Buche de Noel. It came out okay, but it was SO much work and not really worth the effort, so it hasn’t joined our repertoire.

I’m ever so grateful not to have anyone in the family who can’t eat white flour, sugar, or butter, even if we try to avoid those foods at other times of the year. Vegetarians, we have, but it’s a lot easier to make a tasty meatless dinner than a gluten-free cookie.

Having an assortment of cookies baked to share with dear ones and take a plate of to neighbors feels like love to me.

I hope you experience love this holiday season – and find a cookie to enjoy, too!

Readers: What’s your favorite holiday treat? If you bake sweets, what’s your special recipe? If you don’t, share your favorite bakery. I’ll send one of you (sorry, US only) a signed copy of Christmas Cocoa Murder.

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