A classic Dunkin’ Donuts commercial shows Fred the Baker rolling out of bed and trudging to work, sleepy-eyed, in pre-dawn darkness. “Time to make the donuts, time to make the donuts,’’ he mumbles as he suits up for the day.
It’s been like that for the few weeks here, except the baked goods in question are cookies – Christmas cookies of all shapes, sizes and persuasions. Cookies that keep us up late at night and get us up early in the morning.
We say “Time to make the cookies’’ with enthusiasm -- most of the time. Making cookies isn’t a chore, unless you erroneously add an extra stick of butter to a recipe and have to make the cookies all over again.
But I digress.
I received a copy of “The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Cookie Recipe Each Year, 1941-2009,’’ from my sister, Anne, for Christmas last year, and that little book has been my constant companion this baking season.
I’ve read it front to back, like a novel, and made several recipes from it for gift-giving, interspersed with a couple of old favorites.
I would make them again, adding more ground nuts (almonds), more booze (Grand Marnier), a splash of almond extract and more powdered sugar on top. The cookies themselves contain just a half-cup of powdered sugar.
They’re pretty Plain Jane, a cookie to be savored with coffee or tea. Prepare to brush powdered sugar off your clothes as you bite into them.
These are Speculaas (Saint Nicholas Cookies), a traditional Dutch cookie loaded with spices – ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ground anise seed – with slivered almonds pressed into their tops before baking. I cut them in rectangles, as prescribed in the recipe, but you can use any small cutter. A robust ginger cookie is a must-have at Christmastime, and these are a keeper.
These are Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls. They’re a little bit fussy to make, but the return on investment is that they are a refrigerator cookie: Roll up the dough smeared with luscious, fragrant fruit into a big, fat log and refrigerate it until you a ready to slice and bake. The triple-wrapped dough cylinder was in the freezer for more than three weeks and suffered no ill consequences. I’m delighted with the final product and know I will be making this recipe again – and again.
Gotta go now. Time to make the cookies!