written by Michelle Girasole for the neighborhood publication, “The Wickford Way”
My mother-in-law, Paula, has a magical super power. She can turn ordinary butter into dozens and dozens of delicious, crisp Christmas cookies. She shape-shifts mountains of dough into plattered domes of confectionary goodness. Her cookie trays each December are one of our treasured holiday traditions. I thought I’d share our favorites with you, and hope you’ll share your favorite holiday goodies with The Wickford Way on our social media channels this month!
In our family, each of our favorite cookies seem to disappear quickly, leaving only the prune cookies and a few crumbs the day after Christmas. (We always blame Santa.) My son Nicholas likes the traditional snickerdoodle – a sugar cookie sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, sometimes cut into festive shapes, sometimes just the simple circle shape. Those are usually the most delicate in the platter, so they are made last, and the sugar topping can add the red and green color that marks the time of year.
My daughter Jessie likes Grandma’s egg biscuits, which I consider the “workhorse” of the platter, because they are big and take up a lot of room. You can make huge batches of these yummy dough balls with little fuss. Choose to color the dough red or green and/or dip them in white or colored confectioner’s sugar icing. Eat plain or roll them in sprinkles or colored sugar. Festive!
My favorite? I love anything that pairs well with coffee, which I drink a lot of during the holidays. (Who am I kidding? I drink a lot of coffee all year-round.) For cookies though, I am a big fan of almond – almond pizzelles, almond lace cookies, almond puffs. Paula makes a tiny almond biscotti she calls an “Almond Stick”. These are crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside – heaven. But after the first day they get kind of hard – a good excuse to eat them all fast!
My husband loves his mother’s Chocolate Dipped Shortbread cookies. She rolls the mini-chip-filled dough into little logs, bakes and cools them, rolls them in melted chocolate, then in crushed walnuts. Yeah, OMG! One year, our guests ate all the shortbreads on Christmas Eve before Rich got any, and now Paula makes a separate little plate of just these, just for him. (Who said Italian mothers don’t spoil their sons?!) You can also go nut-free and/or add some color by substituting crushed candy canes or a holiday sprinkle mix for the walnuts.
In this issue, I will share Paula’s super secret shortbread recipe, and invite you to join us on Facebook and Instagram to share your family’s cookie platter faves. Store-bought or homemade, let’s show the world that Wickford Eats … cookies, the Wickford Way! Tag @TheWickfordWay or use the hashtag #Thewickfordway in your posts.
“Wickford Eats Shortbread”
Makes 3-4 dozen
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups semi-sweet mini-chips, divided
- 1 tablespoon shortening
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (or sprinkles)
Preheat oven to 350o F. In. Large bowl, combine flour, butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, mix well until blended. Stir in one cup of chocolate mini-chips and mix well. Roll a rounded teaspoon of dough into a 2-inch log, and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, cool completely. Over hot (not boiling) water, in a glass or metal bowl, melt remaining 1 cup of mini-chips and shortening. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, then roll in nuts or sprinkles. Chill in refrigerator until firm (about 1 hour).