There is no stronger symbol of Christmas for me than a cookie. Every year while I was growing up, Christmas Cookie preparations started as early as November and culminated in a neighbourhood Christmas Eve cookie swap at our house. Mom would buy up bags and bags of flour, sugar and decorative bits. Year after year, the cookies were always the same – rich chocolate with melty mint on top, peanut butter kisses, cloudlike meringues, festive spritz and zippy molasses. Just thinking about them brings the taste of Christmas to my tongue.
When we were very young, we watched Mom in the days leading up to Christmas busily baking and decorating hundreds of cookies. As we got older, we were given small jobs – unwrap the mint chocolates and kisses, roll the perfectly round bits of dough in sugar, add the sprinkles, cinnamon dots and silver balls. I will always remember the first year that I was given the responsibility for a whole batch. It was a chocolate dough that was as hard as a rock when I was finished with it. I bent two spoons trying to scoop it. The first attempt was binned and the second (with Mom’s coaching) was perfect. Phew!
Christmas Cookie Shortbread Stars
In Ireland, the tastes of Christmas are different than those I grew up with. Before moving here, the only place I saw mince pie was on my Irish grandmother’s holiday table. I never touched it as, until well into my teens, I was convinced it was made from minced meat! Not a tempting dessert for this girl! There was a brandy butter on that same table that was so strong it would curl your teeth. We didn’t have Christmas cake and the plum pudding was always passed over for something chocolaty. I wish I had paid more attention to her Irish traditions while she was around to share the recipes.
This will be my eighth Christmas in Ireland and I am so happy to have discovered a new array of Christmas flavours. Because I am a Christmas cookie fanatic, we spent a lot of time here at Cookie HQ creating cookie versions of these amazing desserts.
Strangely, most of them are of the boozy variety. Grammy was on to something there! We have a dense Christmas Cake cookie which starts with Teeling Single malt whiskey-soaked fruits. We just put the finishing touches on a mince pie cookie sandwich with flaky shortbread (a pimped out version of my Uncle Kevin’s recipe), brandy and vanilla bean butter, gorgeous locally produced mince (not meat) and fresh orange zest.
The Stout and Irish Cream and Mince Pie Cookie Sandwiches
Our other boozy favourites like the Candy Apple Cider with Scott’s Irish Medium Dry Cider and the Chocolate Chocolate Pilgrim with Wood Key Brewing Irish Red Ale have made their Christmas debut as well as part of our boozy cookie pack – the perfect stocking filler or secret Santa gift.
Boozy Cookies with Local Brewers and Distillers
Boozy Cookie Packs
Christmas Cookie Stall at I Believe – The Dublin Cookie Co
This will be a special Christmas for Elaine and I. My mother, her partner Pastor Bill, my brother and his wife and kids will all be joining us in Dublin for the holidays. I am looking forward to so many things about their visit, but mostly sharing our new Christmas cookies with them. Hopefully Mom brings some of our old favourites too!
Merry Christmas, everyone. Jenny