Few foods are as tightly bound to the holidays as cookies. They’re gifted and decorated, shipped and left out for Santa—they’re the first consideration when you ponder holiday baking (assuming your fruitcakes have been safely tucked away in October).
If you’re planning a swap, consider accommodating a wide range of cookie needs by letting everyone know they can simply bake as many as they’d like to take. Pick up some extra containers and zip-lock bags at the dollar store, and consider asking everyone to print out copies of the recipe (or even just one, to snap on your phone).
If you’re an attendee, consider bringing logs of refrigerator cookie dough (they look great in holiday wrap) for everyone to take home to slice and bake as needed. Besides being less work, dough is more compact, keeps longer, and who doesn’t love having the means for a batch of freshly baked cookies at the ready? Bars can also be less fussy, and easy to wrap, freeze and transport in a stack. Resist the urge to attempt to make your entire quota at once by tripling or quadrupling a recipe—with baked goods, you can usually get away with doubling it, but more than that can send things out of whack.
Taking them Home
Once you’re at the point of packaging cookies up to take home, try to keep soft and crisp ones separate—packed together, the crisp cookies will soften, the moist ones dry out, and the flavours will mingle. Separate them if you can, and tuck any you won’t eat in a few days (or didn’t eat on the ride home) into the freezer. (If you have sneaky housemates, outsmart them by saving empty frozen vegetable bags to tuck cookies into for safe storage.)
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 c. sliced or slivered almonds
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 c. butter at room temperature
- 1 t. vanilla or almond extract
- 1 c. mincemeat fruit preserves, fig jam or lemon curd
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, almonds, sugar and salt until they’re well-blended and the nuts are finely ground.
- Add the butter and vanilla or almond extract and pulse until well combined and crumbly—the mixture should hold together when you squeeze it.
- Divide a little more than half the mixture between two 8 or 9-inch cake pans, 8x8-inch pans or fluted tart pans, pressing evenly into the bottom.
- Spread with mincemeat, jam or preserves, then sprinkle the rest of the crumble mixture over top, squeezing lightly. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden and set. Makes 2 dozen wedges (or more).