Some people have visions of sugar-plums dance in their head this time of year. I just have visions of sugar. In the form of Christmas cookies.
I still miss Gourmet magazine, especially its December issue, usually devoted to cookies and other sweets of the season.
But there are other sources of inspiration, like classic recipes from Mom's file (Snickerdoodles, Pecan Sandies, Peanut Butter Blossoms), the annual Land O'Lakes magazines (recipes developed by a leading butter maker can't be bad, right?), and, of course, cookbooks.
Betty Crocker's "Cooky Book," with its vintage, slightly garish photos, is always fun to thumb through, and there are some excellent recipes in there, too. Martha Stewart's "Cookies'' causes dreaming and drooling. "Sweet Maria's Italian Cookie Tray'' is a slim volume with dozens of mouth-watering ideas: almond paste cookies, almond crescents, biscotti, you name it.
A food blogger who loves to bake finds plenty of inspiration online, too. Some sites you might want to visit:
- Smitten Kitchen's "all cookies'' section: Hazelnut Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, anyone?
- Food52: The online community of cooks and food lovers, launched by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is a fabulous resource for real recipes from real people. A holiday cookie plate HAS to have something ginger-y on it. I'll be trying Food52 contributor Jenny Steinhauer's recipe for Ginger-Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies.
- You knew there had to be a website called Christmas-Cookies.com. It's broken down into categories: rolled cookies, refrigerator cookies, drop cookies, decorated cookies, bar cookies, no-bake cookies -- more than 500 recipes in all.
Happy baking -- bring on the butter, flour and sugar!