Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crazy for Christmas Cookies!

After hearing all about the annual Virtual Advent Tour hosted by Marg [The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader] and Kelly [The Written World] over the last couple of years, I finally decided to join in the merriment. Today's post is my contribution to the 2012 Virtual Advent Tour that just kicked off a few days ago. The idea behind the tour is for book bloggers to share anything they wish about the advent season with their fellow bloggers.. family or country traditions, recipes, books, movies, songs, anything at all, really. To learn more about the Virtual Advent Tour, the schedule of participants with links to their blogs, or to sign up yourself, visit the Virtual Advent Tour Blog HERE.

As you can guess from the title of this post, I am crazy for Christmas cookies. Ever since I can remember, my mother would bake dozens of Christmas cookies--at least five or more varieties and store them in decorative tins on the dining room table. We would eat them, of course, but my mom would also package sampler plates of cookies, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon to gift to relatives, friends, neighbors, the mailman, the garbage collectors, teachers, crossing guards, and so on. She made a lot of cookies!

My mom practiced this Christmas cookie tradition after learning it from her own mother--my maternal grandmother whom I called Oma. My Oma baked traditional German cookies such as spritz, lebkuchen and linzer cookies. My mom baked those same cookies--except for the lebkuchen, and then some. She'd switch it up a bit every year but there was always spritz, linzer cookies, almond crescent cookies, chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, iced holiday cutout cookies. My brothers and I usually helped with the cutout cookies. So much fun!

From the first year that I had my own kitchen, I've been baking Christmas cookies for the holiday season as well. There may have been a year or two when I only managed to make one or two varieties, but I always baked some cookie for Christmas. Interestingly, the only cookie from my childhood that I consistently bake every year are spritz cookies. I wrote about my affection for spritz cookies last year, in which I include a recipe in this post HERE. I have been using the same cookie press for almost 20 years now and I think I'll just cry the day it fails me. I sure hope I don't jinx myself by even thinking of that happening.

I love cooking magazines probably just as much as I love cookbooks and I have acquired many many issues over the years. That can be a whole separate discussion, but the point here is that every December I pull out all the holiday issues of cooking magazines in my collection and pour over them for days and days and days and weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, deciding on the cookies that will make that year's list. I think planning the cookies is almost as much fun as baking them! But never as much fun as eating them. ;)

My holiday magazine collection includes:

Over a decade of December issues of Cooking Light magazines:
Holiday issues of Cooking Light magazine
Nearly a decade of December and Holiday issues of Everyday Food magazines:
December & Holiday issues of Everyday Food magazine
Several special Holiday publications from Martha Stewart Living:
These include decorating and homemade gift ideas and instructions. SO fun!
Holiday cookies {and homemade gifts} MS publications
One beloved copy of Holiday Baking by Cook's Illustrated magazine:
I subscribed to this magazine for a year or two--loved it. Very good for serious cooks who love reading about test kitchen processes and food science as much as they love cooking.
Holiday Baking special publication
from Cook's Illustrated
Several special Christmas Cookies publications from Better Homes and Gardens magazine:
SO many terrific cookie recipes and tips in these magazines. Also, instructions and templates for making Gingerbread Houses. I bought a new one [the red Holiday Baking one on top] just the other day because I want to make the gingerbread house inside it this year. :)
Christmas Cookies | Holiday Baking
Special publications from Better Homes & Gardens
I also have ONE Christmas Cookie cookbook that I absolutely LOVE. I have cooked many recipes from this cookbook of classic Christmas cookie recipes. That is, Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer-Becker and Ethan Becker. If you are passionate about Christmas cookies like I am, I highly recommend this cookbook. It's no longer available in print from the publisher, but look for it at your library or from used book sellers! This is becoming my trademark line lately, isn't it?

Nothing says Crazy for Christmas Cookies like my collection of cooking magazines, don't you think?

I also have a collection of Christmas craft books and cross-stitch patterns that rivals this collection of Holiday magazines...  ; )

Are you crazy for Christmas cookies, too?

What is your FAVORITE Christmas cookie? 


  1. that's a great cookbook collection! I love the tradition of baking cookies but I myself never baked much. That didn't stop me from enjoying those cookies who made their way into my stomach from friendly neighbors. stopping by from Virtual Advent tour. Have a very merry Christmas, Kelley at the road goes ever ever on

  2. I love seeing the stacks of holiday magazines. Just looking at the covers makes me feel all Christmas cheery!

    I have my mother's recipe for sugar cookies with the notation that these are too "short" for cookie cutters but taste delicious. She learned from experience (I remember that year) that a sugar cookie recipe can have too much fat for the cookie to hold its shape. So these are sugar cookies to cut in rounds and decorate with colored sugar crystals and enjoy.

    Joy's Book Blog

  3. Soft gingerbread cookies...so yummy, but the cookies I make always turns out bad. Either too hard, or not hard enough.

    Oh! And I totally had a dream last night where I went to NY, then took the subway to NJ to visit you! :)

  4. Hmm, I usually make spritz cookies every year. Every over year or so I'll also make polverones (Aka known as mexican wedding cookies.) Hubs LOVES them. Then there are the macaroons that Daughter and I are the only ones who eat them...... But, I've never been so ambitious as to make at least five different kinds. Wow!
    And look at that cookie magazine collection! Again, wow! Whatever you choose to make this year, I wish you happiness in the kitchen!

  5. Okay, now you got me craving some cookies!
    I like choco-chip of course, but also sugar cookies cut into shapes :D

    Happy baking and cooking this season :D

  6. Wow, that is awesome! I am not much for baking, but I can sure enjoy it. :)

    Thanks for joining in!!

  7. Wow, that is awesome! I am not much for baking, but I can sure enjoy it. :)

    Thanks for joining in!!

  8. That's such an awesome collection, Christine!! I don't do any baking because I'm not really good at it. For some reasons, all the cookies always turn out quite hard :( I love gingerbread though!! Let see if I can convince my sister of baking some cookies... and you know, we wouldn't mind another recipe up on this blog! :)

  9. That is an awesome collection of cooking magazines! I have one BBC magazine that I bought when I lived in the UK that I kept, but I have never gone back to have a look at it since I came back to Australia.

  10. Yum...I must make cookies now!

    Thanks for sharing your Advent post

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd out

  11. Kelley Jensen, Hi! The only problem with a tradition of baking holiday cookies is that people REALLY look forward to it every year (like my husband and kids, in particular) and I sometimes feel like I HAVE to do it, even if I'm leery of having so much temptation in the house!

    Thanks for visiting! Merry Christmas to you, too! :)

    Joy, Me, too! I keep the magazines stacked on the coffee table to boost my holiday cheer. It truly does make me so happy to flip through one for 10-15 minutes.

    Sugar cookie cut-outs are SO SPECIAL. I love them.

    little_alys, I love soft gingergread cookies, too! The BEST! Try making them again, but don't roll the dough out too thin--keep it 1/4" thick at least.. then watch them very carefully in the oven and take them out when the edges are done but the center is still soft-ish.

    LOVE that dream! ^_^

    Brandy, I love those Mexican wedding cakes, too! We usually make them. I forgot to list them. I think a lot of cultures have a version of that kind of buttery nut cookie coated in powdered sugar. Is that what yours are like? So yummy.

    Thanks for the warm Christmas kitchen wishes. xo

    Alex, Chocolate chip are standard, right? I'm making some today for a bake sale tomorrow. I might have to taste test one. ;)

    Kailana, Thanks for hosting the Virtual Advent!

    nath, Another fan of gingerbread! Cookies or the cake/quick bread? I will try to get some recipes up! Or at least send you some links for your sister. haha!

    Marg, I think might have a slight addiction to holiday magazines...

    bookdout, Thanks for stopping buy! :)

  12. Ha! I'm like you. Every year I buy all the November and December food magazines and women's magazines to get the newest cookie and holiday cooking recipes.

  13. You have an amazing collection of holiday magazines! Christmas just wouldn't be the same without delicious cookies though. I hope you enjoy your holiday baking!
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

  14. What a lovely fun post! I haven't collected as many Christmas cooking magazines as you have, though our family favourite Christmas cookie, ginger spice cookies, come from a holiday cooking magazine - Chatelaines, here in Canada. I really enjoyed your post, and I wish I had a copy of all those magazines to flip through for ideas! Time to go check out what i do have :-)

    have a very merry Christmas, and enjoy the baking - that is so much fun, isn't it? One of the first advent tours I did was about my daughter and I making our ginger cookies. Tradition and fun eating, the best.

  15. Back again for Weekend Cooking (last visit was for the advent tour). We don't really do cookies anymore, but I've been craving a molasses / ginger something. I'm either going to see if I can get a couple at a bakery as a treat or I'm going to invent something for the bread machine. Ginger bread that's really a loaf of bread?

    Joy's Book Blog

  16. When we lived in central New York, I used to make several different kinds of Christmas cookies, and the hands-down favorite was a KIller Brownie Fudge that would clog your arteries if you ate too much. Now that we live in NYC, I don't have room to make all the cookies and I miss it. I so enjoyed looking at your Christmas cookie magazine collection; Cooking Light is an old favorite of mine.

  17. I am definitely CRAZY for cookies, too! Love your magazine collection. I haven't bought as many recently because I usually search online for new recipes. I recently got a copy of Martha Stewart's Cookie Book, and have to say I am a little disappointed. Several of the recipes look good, but nothing really grabbed me. I've had better luck with my old Good Housekeeping Cookbook, where I've made spritz, chocolate dipped, gingerbread men, holly wreaths, neopolitans, raspberry linzer, etc.

    Happy Holiday baking!

  18. Nice post. I try to avoid cookies! (even the electronic kind) Have a super weekend.

  19. I love making spritz cookies. A butterscotch one is my favorite version. I also usually include brownie bites in my holiday cookie platters.

  20. my favourite cookies are Elfin Shortbread Bites. They are little nuggets of tastiness. I make them most years and use them to fill those empty places on cookie trays.


  21. Your holiday magazine collection is amazing! Basic sugar cookies were a staple in my childhood, but the only Christmas tradition my mother did that I've carried on is making Christmas fudge. I always do a big batch and share it with coworkers and friends. Last year I tried a white chocolate eggnog fudge, and that was a great hit, too. The holidays are so delicious...

  22. Wow, what a magazine collection! I love my subscription to Everyday Food and i read it like a book. My favorite cookie is oatmeal. Love oatmeal cookies!

  23. What a terrific collection of cookie recipes. I don't love to bake cookies as much as I love to eat them :)

  24. Oh my gosh - what a collection! I love baking over Christmas time - although not as much as you :-)

    Tanya Patrice

  25. My mom, who passed away a year and a half ago, was Queen of Christmas Cookies. Every year, she baked 100 dozen Christmas cookies! Whew. That's a lot of Christmas cookies. This year, I felt compelled to make some in her memory. I managed 20 dozen.

    So, good for you, taking on the Christmas cookie tradition!

    Here's my Virtual Advent: Uff da! Norwegian Fattigmands! I hope you will stop by!

  26. I need your help! I also have collections and many years ago I lost one that was important to me. I wonder if you can help. I don't remember which magazine it was, but there were 4-5 cheese cake recipes. The one I remember was a phyllo crusted cheesecake with a raspberry topping. There was also a chocolate cheesecake recipe. If you have that magazine I would LOVE to know WHICH magazine it came from and the month and year. Thank you!

    1. Hi CMTorie,
      I'd love to help if I can. I know that feeling of losing a favorite recipe collection - it's very unsettling! Were the recipes for full-size cheesecakes or bite sized ones made in a mini muffin tin? Also are you pretty sure it was a special issue magazine for Christmas baking? That will help me narrow down my search.


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