DENVER — Baking Christmas cookies is a ritual that started for me when I was a teenager. Baking wasn’t my mother’s thing, but my Grandmother Henrietta was a phenomenal home baker, and I was intrigued from an early age. I think a lot of it had to do with the reaction of others as the heady aromas of homemade cookies filtered into other parts of the house. As I drew the first batch from the oven, my sisters and parents were drawn to the kitchen in hopes of tasting cookies still soft and warm. For me, their smiles and murmurs of “umm” were the instant gratification this teenage baker needed.
I began with the usual chocolate chip and sugar cookies, but as my interest in baking expanded and I sought to become more proficient, I turned to my grandmother for her expertise. I also spent hours pouring through the colorful, mouthwatering cookies pictured in magazines. I learned to analyze each recipe for proportions and the relationship between ingredients. As the years passed and cookies from our ovens numbering in the thousands had delighted my family and friends, I began to tweak recipes and develop my own. I also developed techniques that consistently produced the quality, shapes and textures I desired.
Christmastime was when I pulled out all the stops – and I still do. I was always fascinated by cookies from other nations, particularly the Swiss Springerle cookies my Grandmother Kathryn served each year, so when I was introduced to Italian Pizzelles by my husband Randy’s grandmother, I was instantly hooked. She baked these light, crisp, anise-flavored cookies in a pizzelle iron, similar to a waffle iron. Dusted with snowy confectioners’ sugar, they look just like snowflakes. I’ll always be grateful to her for sharing her recipe with me, and to Randy’s parents for giving me a pizzelle iron as a gift.
Baking pizzelles has become an annual Christmas tradition for me, to the delight of those who receive them as gifts. Packaged in clear cellophane sacs tied with shiny ribbon, or arranged on a tray, these delicate, snowflake cookies are an impressive gift-from-the-kitchen for friends and neighbors. This year in particular, when so many have returned to their kitchens, perhaps for the first time in ages, it’s nice to know that a simple Christmas cookie recipe can illicit so many smiles. Merry Christmas!
Take Care. Stay Safe. Find The Joy!
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