First, if you haven’t seen my list of 101 Ideas for Holiday Family Fun in the Capital District, you totally should take a look, because it’s an excellent resource, if I do say so myself. And also it is way more than 101 items. Really. You can count ’em.
We are going to go get our Christmas tree tomorrow. That means that it’s essential that I provide a delicious and yummy spread for Christmas tree decorating tomorrow night. We usually do a basic soup and an array of cheeses, olives, sausages, and other snacks. But the most important part is to have baked goodies in tins. That’s what I always had growing up, including treats that my Mom baked and some that would arrive from friends and relatives every year. Now, when it’s time to decorate the tree, I believe it is essential to have multiple tins of baked goods available. Just one batch of cookies simply isn’t going to cut it.
The trouble is that I’m busy, and if I only have a chance to make one batch of something at a time, it’s possible that we’ll be running low on one treat by the time we’re ready to decorate the tree. I like the feeling of sudden, almost magical, holiday abundance.
So this year I tried to be sneaky. My plan was to make two of our favorites, magic cookie bars and shortbread, while everyone was out of the house, and then I’d hide the evidence before anyone came home. A good fifteen minutes before the first afternoon arrival, I’d stowed the magic cookie bars and shortbread under some tissues in the front foyer, which we treat as a walk-in refrigerator during the winter months (it get really cold in there). I even lit more candles than usual in an attempt to disguise lingering delicious smells.
The candles simply weren’t up to the task. I thought I had the house good and aired out, but of course I’d been in the house all day, so I was no longer attuned to just how scrumptious everything smelled. When I heard J slam in through the back door I was sitting in the living room, and I called out a greeting, and she walked through the house toward me, telling me about her day, then froze, mid-sentence, like that dog from Up noticing a squirrel. “Wait a minute,” she said. She turned to the kitchen. I sat on the sofa, trying to act casual. I heard her case the joint and open the oven. She came into the living room. “It smells good,” she said, eyes lit up with excitement. The jig was up, but I continued to resist. “Does it?” I asked vaguely. “I have that new wax melting thing. . . .” She shook her head impatiently and headed to the foyer. “Ha!” she crowed, triumphant. “I knew it! The oven was still a little bit warm!”
It was a full 90 minutes later and already dark out when M arrived home. We’d seen a package on the front porch and she went to retrieve it. As soon as she headed into the front foyer I realized my tactical error, so I hurried to catch up with her. She had her phone in flashlight mode. “Mom, it smelled so good in here, but it was dark, so I made my phone a flashlight and I searched and found cookies!” Yes, she did.
That was yesterday. Today I was working on a third batch of cookies–the caramel-filled chocolate cookies–and I’d given up on secrecy entirely. The girls each got a spoonful of batter to “test it,” and when Cute W arrived home he pulled a full cookie’s worth of dough off the pan before it even got into the oven.
That’s okay. There’s plenty.
Here are some of our favorite holiday recipes.