3 Weeks 'till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

I have a love-hate relationship with baking cookies. I love the idea of it. Less captivated with the clean-up. And, often not quite satisfied with the result, particularly when attempting the odd new recipe.

There is undoubtedly a lesson here from my mom. She was an accomplished cook, but only ran with a few signature Christmas cookies. One was a dark Pfeffernusse, a hard cookie made with molasses and honey, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper. A perfect dipping cookie. Offering a visual offset to that complicated dark cookie, were her simple vanilla cut-out cookies, spiced with cinnamon and baked with finely chopped hazelnut; and, thirdly, a consummate gingerbread, from which, with a bit of royal icing for glue and decoration, she would build Santa’s sleigh, pulled by four reindeer – an annual creation which would make it’s debut on Christmas Eve, filled with sweet candy and Christmas oranges.

Mom would bake her cookies weeks before Christmas and hide them in cold corners all over the house. They’d emerge on pretty Christmas plates when friends or family visited. I love these ancient cookie cutters, they are laden with memory for me, and I like to think I honor my mom’s beautiful German cookies by decorating a small tree with them every Christmas. And, of course, by baking cookies!

One of the items which turned up at our Christmas gift guide shoot was a lovely set of cookie cutters from the Calgary Stampede Store. These retail for about $24.95, and as you might guess, they did not make it back to the store.

Wee and I made these sugar cookies with the cutters, which feature a tall boot, horse head, horseshoe, cowboy hat and our hands down favorite, a bucking horse, a few weeks ago. They made a great after-lesson treat at the 4H ride. I still have the December 2000 issue of Bon Appetit with the Sugar Cookie recipe in it, as well as great decorating tips, and one can now reference it online here.

My favorite go-to recipe for a more adult cookie is Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies. These are a cinch to whip up in a hurry and the large recipe allows one to save a log of dough in the freezer when a quick need invariably rises later in the season. They are pretty and rustic, not too sweet and package well.

Finally, a new recipe I’ll now relegate to the “keeper” list, partially because I love the orange, coconut and bittersweet chocolate mix, but also for the visual juxtapose they offer to more traditionally shaped cookies, are these Ambrosia Macaroons.

And, that’s my Christmas gift idea for you this week. Get baking!

P.S. stay tuned later this week for a fantastic giveaway we’re offering – a bit of a Christmas comes early sort of idea. Be sure to be signed up to receive our e-newsletter to get the heads up on it.