I have never made a batch of hamantaschen, those triangular cookies closesly associated with the Jewish holiday of Purim, and although I’ve always been familiar with them, I can’t clearly recall eating one before today. Traditionally filled with thick poppyseed paste, date, prune or apricot preserves, they could contain just about anything — I’ve come across versions filled with marzipan and sprinkles, Nutella, and hazelnuts and apricots with a browned butter cookie base. You could, in fact, fill these hamantaschen with just about any sweet filling that could be contained by the edges of the cookie and would stand up to the heat of the oven — fruit compote, sweetened cream cheese or pie filling. Hamantaschen is like the cookie version of a galette, with sugar dough rolled and cut into circles, then folded over whatever filling you happen to come up with. (I used some blackberry jam from last summer, and some thick date filling I made in the same way I would toContinue reading

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I’ve made this a few times over the years, and like that it’s sort of half cookie half pie, yet called a gâteau. I made it when I have a glut of homemade jam in the house, or all-fruit mincemeat in December. This year I seem to have a surplus of blackberry jam in my freezer, so pulled some out to use in this big sweet sandwich, with jam spread between pieces of buttery cookie-pastry and baked as one giant cookie-pie, and served in thin wedges. You can nibble these out of hand, like a cookie, or serve them on a plate topped with a scoop of ice cream, like a far fancier dessert. The fact that it’s called a gâteau Basque rather than a big cookie-jam sandwich just makes you feel so much more sophisticated as a cook. Most gâteau Basque, named for the region in France, is tucked into a shallow tart pan, but I figured a) less than 50% of the populationContinue reading

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I realize I’ve been dishing up a lot of sweet stuff lately – I promise we do eat real food too on occasion. You know what a fan I am of those rainbow peanut butter marshmallow squares – last time I made a batch W loudly wished they had been chocolate peanut butter, only the very best flavour combination ever, and so of course I obliged. It’s easy – just swap the butterscotch chips for chocolate, which I’m far more likely to have around anyway. And ever since a friend singed hers on the stovetop last Christmas, creating these irresistibly tasty crispy bits, I’ve imagined them with a slight crunch from a handful of cereal. Which turned out to be a Very Good Idea.

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This feels like a bit of a copout, but I’ve been meaning to mix up a batch of puffed wheat squares (a very prairie thing) and eat the whole pan myself for awhile now. And I think if anyone came across a plate of these on the kitchen counter, they’d eat them. I’d like to say I grew up eating puffed wheat squares, but I didn’t – hopefully W will not suffer the same fate. I’d make them more often if puffed wheat was a thing I normally kept in the house, but when I think to buy a bag, I remember that a panful takes about ten minutes to stir together. Well worth it.

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OK, we normally just call these “Mom’s nut balls”, which sounds a little like an old SNL sketch, so let’s go with shortbread balls – although these are more commonly known as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes. Regardless, they’re a must every Christmas. I like that they’re lower in sugar than other cookies – 1/2 cup powdered sugar is equal to about 1/4 cup of regular granulated sugar – they’re not enormous, are easy to “decorate”, and taste like Christmas. It’s one of those recipes that comes out once a year, and I’d never dream of making in May or August.

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*I’ve partnered with Lindt to bring you this buttery shortbread, topped with squares of Lindt dark chocolate. Doesn’t it seem like a great idea? It really was. It’s perfectly reasonable to eat shortbread for breakfast with (Bailey’s-spiked) coffee at this time of year, right? And then to keep nibbling from a stash on your kitchen counter throughout the day, like a slow dose of butter and sugar and Christmas joy? It seems as if I’ve been on a bit of a cookie bender since the calendar struck December – two cookie exchanges in the first week, and two back to back cookie baking classes to raise money for the food bank. There’s no shortage of new ideas at this time of year, but what I really want is a good butter shortbread – and something chocolate. My dad has, for at least the past decade, kept a stash of Lindt Excellence 70% cacao bars on hand, and the stack rarely dips below half a dozen.Continue reading

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Hey, remember these? I made them exactly a year ago, but never shared – and now on the eve of Rogue One coming out in theatres (big excitement in this house – it’s like pre-Christmas) it seems timely again. Also – these are far more interesting than a straight-up gingerbread dude, aren’t they? You could, of course, use any rolled gingerbread cookie formula and squish them with the back of a fork to make them look like shaggy wookies – extra Chewie.

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I can’t remember the first time I made these. I make them every year – and now, on the verge of cookie month, when I went to look up the recipe here, I couldn’t believe I haven’t shared it yet. Sorry, guys. For fans of the sweet-tart, these are it – a double whammy of pucker, with a layer of cranberries suspended in lemon filling. A smattering of coconut adds some sweet chewiness. I like that I can make them ahead of time and stack them in the freezer – in fact, freezing them first makes it easy to cut them cleanly, and they thaw nicely while sitting out on a plate. All they need is a shake of icing sugar.

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When there’s nothing else you can do, bake. I feel like baking the world a batch of cookies. Is Halloween far enough in the rear-view mirror to warrant a chewy peanut butter-chocolate chunk cookie? Related: If I add some oatmeal, does it classify more as lunchbox/afternoon snack than holiday cookie platter fare? We’re about to embark on cookie season, but although this is the very friendliest kind of cookie, it’s not particularly festive. (Or is it? For the record, a stack of these would be well received by me any time of year.) Peanut butter and chocolate are two of my favourite things, together even better. Chewy in the middle, with a crispy edge and big puddles of chocolate. This is the type of workhorse cookie I bake when I need a good stash of something to have on hand for the hungry and sad, for lunches (W’s school has no nut allergies), and to freeze for another day when we might need more ofContinue reading

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