Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday cookie traditions

The expert combination of decoration and taste is a difficult goal to achieve in Christmas cookie tradition.  The challenges in cookie decorating are many fold, but the cookie decorating endeavors at the Jonnes/Ross household this weekend were "top flight".  First, we walked into the warm house filled with the smell of toasted gingerbread and roasted sugar cookie.  Flour has no boundaries and rightfully made it's mark on pieces of dark clothing as the decorating commenced. The avid decorator must have discipline and self-control in order to avoid consumption of the tantalizing material at hand.  While the art of decorating can take many forms, resourceful use of everyday household tools is the most efficient method.  Toothpicks were the creative tool of choice, and paintbrushes (that could have been discovered from the ancient childhood face painting sets stored deep in the basement make for a great resurrection of toys of old).   Festive holiday colored frosting was used and cookie cutter shapes ranged from elephants, to gingerbread women, to reindeer.   Sugar crystal sprinkles were used in every combination with no two cookies ending up the same.  It was clear these cookies met a high standard of aesthetic rigor.  Beyond beauty, the other challenge for Christmas cookies are quality of taste.  The cookie dough was made and baked by expert Jill Jonnes with a recipe scouted from Mrs. Gilmore's gingerbread "girls".

Gingerbread often has a reputation for "cardboard-like" taste in part due to the evolution of recipes used in gingerbread houses built for structural support over gustatory quality.  However, this recipe had the perfect amount of spice, density, and crunch.  My favorite of good-looking bunch were the candy cane cookies.  These treats were soft and delicate in texture, in stark contrast to the brittle peppermint canes from which their form takes after. We were surprised by a new addition to the mix, an almond biscotti made its appearance deliciously dipped in dark roast coffee.  The cookies are on display in the household holiday cookie eating party today.   Here are some shots from the pre-eating training (because let's face it, eating is the highest valued skill for Christmas -cookie -making parties).

No comments: