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.

93 Thoughts

  1. I’d never heard of bridecakes before, but they look easy enough. When I make cookies, this time of year or otherwise, it’s almost always chocolate chip. Simple and delicious!

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  2. My Christmas cookie baking has shrunk down to sugar cookies and spritz cookies. I use the recipes from my Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook. I still read through that and through articles in the newspaper food section, considering other possibilities, but the nostalgia factor wins out, since I baked the sugar cookies with my children and their friends in an annual cookie baking party for over 20 years.

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  3. My grandmother’s annisette cookies, they are a lot of work, cookie cutters, icing and the recipe makes about 7 or 8 dozen depending on the cutter size, but they are so good. My siblings and cousins love them, and a new generation is falling in love. No sooner had I finished icing the last cookie on Saturday when my sister called to see if she could come do a taste test.

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  4. This year we did not give away cookies to neighbors as in the past. Instead we made cheese balls and gave them away on a plate surrounded by seeded and other types of crackers. We rolled the cheese balls in chopped dried cherries and macadamia nuts and they looked and tasted good. In return we received sugar cookie angels and a loaf of Swedish bread made by our neighbor and her husband’s uncle. In the past we have also given away other savory dishes like bell pepper and cream cheese flour tortilla rolls. I can’t remember what the name of those was, but we heard back from neighbors that they were good. 😉 Thank you for the cookie ideas you mentioned. We have a cookie here that is called Mexican Wedding Cookies that sounds like your Bridescake cookies only they are rolled into balls and covered with powdered sugar. Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and Happy all of 2020!

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  5. I don’t bake much but I love to make no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookies. They remind me of my mother. I usually buy a pumpkin pie from Costco. It’s delicious!

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  6. Favorite holiday treats? Where do I start?

    I love the store bought Stauffer Christmas shortbread cookies. Then there’s the bags of Brach’s Holiday Mix hard candies.

    One family friend brings me a bag of goodies each year with decadently sweet fudge (chocolate, chocolate walnut and peanut butter), other homemade chocolates and three kinds of cookies (mint chocolate chip, sugar and cookies with either chocolate, lemon or raspberry filling).

    My friend Ann gives me a package of homemade baked goodies that vary from year to year.

    And while it isn’t a sweet treat, my favorite thing that I used to get on Christmas Eve was my aunt’s chicken dish. I don’t know that it has a specific name but I just call it “My Aunt’s World Famous Chicken Dish”. I don’t know what it is but the dish is mouthwatering. But when the family gathering ended, so did my chances at getting her tender loving care infused dinner.

    She gave me the recipe, but I’m lazy so obviously I haven’t made it myself.

    Oh and Edith, I’m giving three copies of your books as gifts this year, including Christmas Cocoa Murder.

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  7. Since being diagnosed with celiac disease I’ve had to adapt my grandmother Dorothy’s beloved recipes (and my kitchen) to gluten free. My favorites are her soft sugar cookies with a lemony flavor, her sand tarts, and molasses cookies. She only made the sand tarts at Christmas, so those are a special treat I make for my entire family in memory of my grandmother. They don’t seem to mind or notice that they are gluten free!

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  8. Butter cookies are my favorite, and my recipe is the same as yours. Like you, we don’t frost Christmas cookies either.

    My favorite Christmas cookies are ones I don’t make – don’t have the recipe. They are buttery half moon shaped cookies covered with confectioners sugar. I know they have chopped walnuts and I have tried multiple recipes, but none have come close to the cookies my boss’s wife used to make and send at Christmas time. The recipe was a family heirloom and she didn’t want to share it. I left that job in 2001 and I can still taste the buttery smoothness of those cookies!

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  9. I, too, learned to cook/bake beside my Mom and Granny. At Christmas, we would bake for weeks it seemed making cookies, candy, fried pies and cakes all of which were divided into goody boxes. Then we would go visiting which was almost as much fun as the time in the kitchen. We would go to friends and relatives, but I so fondly remember the visits the the nursing homes, the elderly and the shut ins. Such sweet memories! It’s a tradition that I still try to fulfill with the faded and much used recipe cards. Even though I’d since typed them up and have them in a cookie book of sorts, I still grab the cards. They make me feel closer to my Mom now that she’s gone to her heavenly home.

    Along with the press cookies (as a kid we called it the “gun”), cut out sugar cookies and lots others, I make my Ozark Honey Oatmeal Cookie. In fact, I start with this recipe because the older they get the better they are. They also ship well. Here’s the recipe.
    Ozark Honey Oatmeal Cookies

    Ingredients
    1/2 cup Shortening
    1 ¼ cup Sugar
    2 Eggs
    1/3 cup Honey
    1 tsp. Salt
    1 tsp. Soda
    1 ¾ cup Flour, sifted
    2 cups Quick Oats
    1 cup Coconut
    1 cup Pecans, finely chopped or ground
    Directions
    Heat oven to 375 degrees
    Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, honey, soda and salt thoroughly
    Stir in flour, oats, coconut and pecans
    Shape dough into rounded teaspoon sized balls
    Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet
    Flatten with bottom of a glass dipped into sugar
    Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
    Immediately remove from baking sheet
    Yields: 5 dozen cookies
    Variations:
    Honey-Raisin Cookies: Omit coconut and substitute 1 cup raisins

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of “Christmas Cocoa Murder”. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.

    May you have the merriest of Christmas and the happiest of new years!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  10. I really like the cornflake wreathes. Life has been too hectic to make them this year. Instead, we baked spritz cookies ( a recovery project with my husband).

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  11. I haven’t baked cookies for years. For many years my mom bakes batches of cookies and sent them to us. I don’t like to bake that much and it’s been a busy year. But maybe next year…

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  12. My sisnlaw and brother make tons of sugar cookies. Don’t know why but I don’t like cookies too much. I love Hermit cookies. And love pies on Christmas. Love reading about your baking. Oh and I love getting anything from HomeStyle Bakery here locally. They are the best. Thanks for the chance to win.

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  13. I don’t normally bake. A Facebook friend gave me her recipe for molasses sugar cookies since I lost my mother’s recipe so I may try this year.

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  14. I don’t bake from scratch anymore due to physical limitations. My husband wants sugar cookies for Christmas so we bought some sugar cookie dough and I have cookie cutters and we will decorate them. He does most of the work and I sit at the table and decorate. Will do that tomorrow afternoon and have the Christmas music on too. Merry Christmas!!! Thank you for this chance to win.

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  15. I’m not a good baker—but I am an accomplished eater! My two holiday favorites are baklava and a good fruitcake.

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  16. last year we went to a Kristkindl Market and we bought a Replica German Cookie Mold used for German Springerle cookies. Oh my gosh they take 2 days to make but they are so beautiful and delicious. They are my favorites to make now.

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  17. I love to bake cookies at Christmas. My favorites are peppermint cookies shaped like candy canes and rolled in crushed peppermint.

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  18. Yum!

    My parents have some treats they make that I love to eat each year when I’m home. A cheesecake brownie and rocky road candy and a chocolate mint bar.

    I don’t make anything myself. Or send Christmas cards. Between my regular life, I’m doing well to add decorating and buying and wrapping presents to the mix.

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  19. I love to cook but I don’t bake. A bakery treat I really enjoy is Gooey Butter Cake. Being from St. Louis it’s my hometown’s own creation and tradition. I also love pecan pie. Boy, it looks I love the ones LOADED with calories!

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  20. I have a few I must do each Christmas. My great-grandmothers recipes for cherry cakes is my favorite though. Also green spritz trees is a most! Yum!

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  21. Everything looks SO good! Even that buche noel.

    Growing up, my nonna and zia made Italian cookies called Pizzelles, flavored with anise. I LOVE them. Nonna is gone now, and I’m 3000 miles away from Zia Rose, but my friend Von Rae makes them and delivers them every Christmas.

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  22. Thank you for sharing! My mom did not do much baking, but I do wish I could have learned all her mother knew! I loved her molasses cookies and chocolate cake. Today I enjoy the pumpkin cheesecake my stepdaughter makes. Am happy to have a little in the fridge now! Would love to read this book!

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  23. My kids and I used to bake like crazy at Christmas but as they’ve gotten older we don’t so much anymore. I miss that time we spent together, though.

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  24. I love kolachki. My buschia made them all the time. She was the baker in our family. I am not. I would love to try making them though. Maybe next Christmas. For now i will go to the local bakery. Wish i had grandmas recipe.

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  25. Peanut butter cookies with a hersey kiss is my favorite. Thank you for the chance Merry Christmas 🎄

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  26. Isn’t it wonderful to have family around? Enjoy your time with them. Both my mother and grandmother were great cooks and bakers, although very different styles. My grandmother could make a pie crust in her sleep. My mom liked to bake fancy cookies and cakes for the holidays. And her sour cream coffee cake was to die for. I have note cards and notebooks with many of their recipes. For my own family there are cream cheese cookies, one bowl brownies cookies and peanut butter banana bread with chocolate chips that are special favorites.

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  27. I’ve never heard of Bridecakes before. They look awesome! I don’t bake much these days, but my Sister and I always make my Mom’s walnut cookies. I think we should try the bridecakes as well.

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  28. My grandmother always made pecan pie so now I make pecan pie too. I also make cranberry bread, pumpkin bread , chocolate chip coffee cake and brownies. This year my oldest son wants me to try chocolate brownie cookies. My #2 son has almost finished studying culinary arts at Johnson & Wales so I have to step up my game.

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  29. We try to make at least a couple things- cutout cookies, fudge, divinity, peanut butter balls, and caramels are the top picks.

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  30. I love a good cozy mystery, especially when there’s food involved! I love to make Sno-Ball cookies during the holiday.

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  31. Molasses cookies are my best so far but I’ve tried chocolate chip, sugar cookies, gingerbread, black walnut cake, and brownies. My mother was the best baker so I didn’t really start baking until after she died.

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  32. This recipe sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing. I make my walnut tarts for Christmas, and my friend makes the best chocolate pecan pie for Christmas. Thank you for this chance! Merry Christmas!

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  33. I am a huge fan of cookies, and of your books. I love spritz cookies but haven’t had them in years. My dad got into baking late in life and used to make a whole bunch of different kinds of cookies and bars, and I would get a tin of all his goodies – I loved that.

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  34. My Sister makes delicious deserts so I am more the taster than the Baker. She will have at least three for Christmas. I love her fudge, cheesecake and Boiled Cookies…but she also does a great Pecan Pie.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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  35. Yesterday was my baking day. I made caramel corn like a crazy woman for several hours, then made cookies. My favorite cookie is a Chewy Coconut Cranberry Oatmeal recipe. Yum! It is a recipe from a cozy that from the first time I made it, it became a family favorite. I made those, a soft Oatmeal Raisin cookie, and a Hershey’s Chocolate Chip cookie recipe (my son likes them better than Tollhouse) yesterday. I also made the dough and filling for Pecan Tassies that I am fixing to put together and then I will make some sugar free chocolate chip cookies for my dad then it is on to the savory lineup! Those go together quick.

    This year I did a little prep work so the cookies would go together faster on baking day. I had all my flour mixtures and various ingredients (other than eggs and liquids of course) mixed together and put in rubbermaid containers and labeled. It worked great! Other than all the containers I had to wash! Lol! Actually I will do it again next year that way. Dishes washed fast and it was great to pop own a container and dump it in the mixer and not have to measure anything right then. Renee

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  36. The older I get, the more impatient baker I’ve become. But, I still always make two pumpkin pies for our daughter when she comes home. It’s the crust that makes the difference. It is very easy (3 ingredients), but it is very rich and rolling it out and getting it into the pie pan is always a challenge. It’s not a pretty pie, it’s one with an incredibly flaky crust (even the bottom). For the last several years, she has made delicious cookies that require a lot of work. I help her (I do the chimp work – zesting 10 lemons and limes, and juicing them). We give them to a lot of good folks and eat a bunch ourselves. Actually, I don’t eat them because they include coconut which I don’t care for. But the joy of making them with my daughter is worth all the work.

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  37. I have now finished 10 kinds of cookies to take to the family Christmas gathering. My version of the Mexican Bride cake is called a Russian teacake/Snowball and is rolled in powdered sugar The Greeks have a version of it, too. My recipe is on a 3 x 5 card from when I was in an 8th grade cooking class–in the early Stone Age. Loved hearing about your cookies, Merrily

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