It’s time. Christmas Cookies wait for no man – or woman – and the time is upon us to start the yearly tradition. We used to start the baking the weekend after Thanksgiving. Back in those days, we were both off the whole 4-day holiday weekend. Friday was Decorate-The-House-For-Christmas-Day, and Saturday and Sunday were Start-the-Cookie-Baking-Days.

Nowadays I’m working that weekend, so “tradition” has had to change a bit. Even the cookies we make every year have changed a bit. Oh… we still do all the family favorites, Aunt Emma’s Apricot Cookies, for example, but we’ve been playing with and tweaking recipes for a log time, now. Aunt Dolores’ Rum Balls were originally rolled in cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Now we dip them in chocolate and make the most wonderful rum ball truffle! And then there’s the year I made Uncle Rudy’s Pizzelle’s, but made an Amaretto/Almond version, as well. Victor’s mother wouldn’t even look at them, let alone eat one! They’ve begrudgingly become a favorite. And many cookies have become a variation on a theme. We make at least three different butter/nut cookies whose original recipes were slightly different but the only real difference was their shape. So – we kinda almost make the same cookie three times, but with different nuts and some are shaped one way, some are dipped in chocolate, some are rolled in cocoa or powdered sugar… They’re all excitingly different!

And I was so happy to get home on Monday to see my spices had arrived! Cocoa powder, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, 2 sea salts, the best unsweetened coconut available… Atlantic Spice Company (and their sister company San Francisco Herb Company) have some of the best herbs and spices – at definitely the best prices – around. I’ve been shopping at the SF Store on 14th Street for years, and was thrilled to find their internet site when we moved east!

The baking itself isn’t complicated – it’s just a matter of being organized. I have excel spreadsheets of recipes and ingredients that make doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling recipes a snap. AND I have it set up to help with the shopping for those 25 pounds of butter and 50 pounds of flour, rum, brandy, vanilla, and sugars we’ll use. Double ovens, a ream of parchment paper, and a dozen cookie sheets help, too. But while I speak of production baking here, don’t be scared off! Every one of these recipes is easy enough for the most novice of bakers. their beauty is their simplicity – and their versatility. Making a single batch or ten, it’s all the same.

Here are some of our traditional cookies we make every year.

We also like to incorporate at least one new recipe into the mix. Not sure exactly which one it will be this year…