For eight years, I wanted nothing more than a full time job so I could live like a normal human and not worry 24 hours a day.
Now I have a full-time job and I’d really like to blog and bake cookies, but I’m so pooped by the time I get home, get something to eat and clean up, I don’t have time or the energy. I also want to finish decorating the tree, buy people gifts and send lovely packages – we’ll see how much of that gets done.
I’m planning a huge intake of caffeine this week so I can whip through the decorating, cookies and packages and collapse in a lump on the couch with a hot toddy maybe by the 24th. So far, I got the house decorating done, the tree is up, but still in need of ornaments and I have bought 1.5 gifts.
When you’re a kid, all you can think about at Christmas is the presents. When you’re a female adult, all you can think about is what you probably won’t get done in time.
I’ve been itching to bake Thumbprint Cookies. I love Thumbprints. I learned to make them in seventh grade. Wilma Heiberger was my partner in Home Economics and we had a great time dropping the balls of dough from as high as we could reach so they made a big splash into the cups of egg white to coat them before we rolled them in nuts. This did not please our Home Ec teacher, Miss Hartley. Do kids even have Home Ec classes anymore? Probably not.
I also love baking this time of year because it reminds me of the hours I spent at our dining room table baking with my mother. The clear plastic cover over the tablecloth was dusted in flour every December, as I helped Mom bake and get ready for Christmas. Man, what I would give to have one more evening of baking with her.
One year we were baking her favorite, Banana Cookies. They’re a filled cookie that’s very time intensive. You make the dough, then the filling, then fill them, roll them, bake them and ice them. We’d already made several dozen and she was tired that night. There was a fist sized mound of dough left and a good cup of filling left, which would have made at least another dozen more cookies.
I’d walked away from the table to take the cookies out of the oven and came back to my mother laughing so hard, the table was shaking. She looked up at me repentantly and showed me the gigantic cookie she’d made with the rest of the dough and filling. Tears rolling out of her eyes with laughter, she said, “Don’d a worry Frenzy, your fodder (father) will eat it.”
Before she passed away she told me about a book she got from Hershey’s loaded with recipes for chocolate cookies and cakes in it. She wanted to bake them with me. I wish I’d been able to do that, but we never got the chance.
So, if you’re lucky enough to still have your mom, or grandma, or aunt or anyone who wants to bake with you, do it! You never know how much time you have left.
This year, in honor of mom, I’m trying a twist on the original Thumbprint recipe, making mine dipped in toasted hazelnuts with a dollop of chocolate hazelnut Nutella in the center. I think Mom would approve. (The originals have walnuts on the outside and either icing or jam in the middle. I love them with icing too.) I’ll post photos once I bake them.
I also want to bake Mini Carrot Cakes and Mini Cheesecakes and Brownies with Chocolate Ganache, Seven Layer Cookies, Russian Teacakes, Almond Cookies, Peanut Squares, Lemon Ricotta Cookies, Lemon Cheesecake Bars, Hershey Kiss Cookies, and my mom’s favorites, Banana Cookies, which I may try next week…if the espresso holds out. Wish me luck.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg whites slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups finely chopped hazelnuts (I get the dry roasted ones from Trader Joes)
Cream the sugar and butter, then add the vanilla and egg yolks. Mix together the flour and salt. Combine the flour with the butter mixture.
Roll the dough into small balls, then dip them into the slightly beaten egg whites, then roll them into the hazelnuts. Place them on a baking sheet and press the centers to form an indentation.
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes, remove from heat, reset indentation and bake for five more minutes. Remove from heat and once they’re cooled, drop Nutella into the indentation. You can sprinkle them lightly with powdered sugar when they’re done also.