Hello Arlington Patch! I’m new to the Arlington Patch Local Voices scene, and I am devoting my blog space to food — where to find interesting food and ingredients, how to prepare great meals, and how our food choices affect our community. I’m excited to start this blog in December, which is a time of great eating. Today I’m going to focus on one of my favorite holiday foods: cookies.
My love of cookies is well-rooted in my family background. When we get together for the holidays, there are stacks of tins filled with every flavor imaginable. So what am I baking this year? Many of my go-to recipes come from my relatives — especially my mother, a trained chef, and my grandmother (who, unlike me, typed every one of her recipes on index cards).
First, I get weak in the knees for any version of Molasses cookie. After using a family recipe for years, I came across Sofra Bakery’s version last December. Turns out the recipes are the same, with some variations in spices. I ripped Sofra’s recipe out of the Improper Bostonian, but I doubled the spices and added some ginger for good measure. Plus, I get all the spices I need at Penzey’s in Arlington Heights.
Next up are Hazelnut Chocolate Crinkles from the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine (Gourmet recipes can still be found on Epicurious). I’ll admit it, there are a lot of ingredients for these cookies and you dirty a lot of bowls. But they satisfy the chocolate cravings that are rampant around my house, and they look adorable, like crackly chocolate snowballs.
Finally, I bake Sand Tarts. A few ingredients and simple preparation create an irresistibly buttery cookie. My aunt typically bakes these to perfection, but I make my own stash as well. Something about turning the calendar to December produces a Pavlovian response in me: “MUST HAVE SAND TARTS.” See the recipe below.
My quick advice about baking cookies:
- Most cookies freeze well, so bake ahead
- Parchment paper is your best friend
- Invest in an oven thermometer (that’s not just for cookies).
I hope this inspires you to bake some cookies soon. But what if you absolutely hate baking? Or love baking but are freaking out at your December to-do list? Don’t deprive yourself or your loved ones, since we live in a great town for baked goods. Check out the buttery holiday themed cookies at Lakota Bakery or the delicate Florentines at Quebrada. No one should be without cookies this time of year.
Looking forward to exploring all things foodie again soon!
(makes about 30 cookies)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 heaping Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ sifted flour (sift first, then measure)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup (or more) powdered sugar for rolling after baking
Preheat the oven to 300º.
Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly blended (about 1 minute). Add vanilla and mix. Add flour in two parts, mixing each until blended. Add nuts and mix until just incorporated.
Using a rounded tablespoon, measure out the dough for each cookie, then roll into a ball and put on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Press down with a fork.
Bake 15-17 minutes, until very lightly browned.
Let cookies cool slightly; roll in powdered sugar while still warm. Feel free to give them one more dip in the sugar once they are fully cooled. Keep in an airtight container on the counter for about a week, or freeze.