I spent all of this weekend baking cookies. Chocolate shortbread. Honey Merry Christmas rolled out cookies. Peppermint surprise chocolate cookies. Then I spent the better part of today decorating them. Milk chocolate used as glue for getting smashed candy cane bits to stick to the peppermint surprise or the chocolate shortbread (which also had a set with pistachios on top.)
But the big push was icing and sugaring all the honey cookies. I try to do a wide variation in decorating these cookies-- some with only a little sugar and icing, others with sprinkles, and only a few that go full out with the icing and sugar. For some reason, folks can be a little timid about biting the top off a big sugar coated tree. Which is why I always make so many of those wee stars. I consider them to be the gateway cookies. People take one to be polite and bite in, expecting a dry, flavorless vanilla sugar cookie, and instead are hit with the aromatics and taste of the honey. And *then* the go for the tree.
These honey cookies are pretty much the only holiday tradition I have carried with me from childhood onward. I remember making these cookies with my mother and grandmother as early as 7 years of age. And using some of the same HRM cookie cutters I used today. (As an aside, that snowman is my most favorite cookie cutter ever. I use it sparingly however as it is cracked. I keep hoping to find a set of them in a junk shop.) And just as I did as a child, I make my own colored sugar, using regular old table sugar and food coloring. I've never developed a taste for those bigger pre-colored sugar crystals. For me, the hand colored sugar is what these cookies need to be complete.
The next step of course will be to package up all these treats, then give them away to the folks who have made my life a better, happier place in the past year. I'm planning to put a number of them in the mail and hope they won't be too battered when they arrive. And hope that the folks who open up their mailbox to find a small package of the cookies know that even if I don't always say it, they are most appreciated and greatly missed.
The only fly in the ointment in this cookie euphoria is my SO had oral surgery last week and is on a strict no chew diet. I reserved a couple of the cookies for him, however, to be crunched up into a milkshake. It's not as fabulous as the finished cookies mind you, but it will do in a pinch.
I would have waited until he is back on solid foods, but since I am taking vacation time for the two weeks prior to Christmas, this was my only chance to bake cookies to bring in to work.
I haven't had the weeks prior to Christmas off in at least 5 years, probably longer. But this year, since I hadn't taken a 2-week break, and my SO has the time off from his Master's in Library Science studies, I am thrilled to be able to get the time off. I plan to go do some volunteering at the SPCA holiday windows, have a lunch or three with friends I don't get to see often enough, and to trek out to the Valley to see the other Erika.
I'm totally looking forward to my leisurely long holiday break.