Christmas is a magical time of year, a time when people who usually don’t bake find themselves in the kitchen trying out family recipes. For some it’s a chance to relax and transform a few simple ingredients into something amazing that captures the joys of the season. For others, it’s a chance to create gifts that come straight from the heart, a symbol of the sweetness of friendship and family.
The kind of cookie you bake is not as important as the flavour of the cookie. I don’t use margarine, but if you do, never use whipped margarine, the solid sticks are better for baking and they’re easier to measure. I’ve discovered through trial and error that cookies made with shortening tend to hold their shape better. But if you like that “melt-in-your-mouth” burst of flavour decadence in a cookie, nothing is better than butter. Carolyn Mortson, owner of Sugar Rush Cake Design in Newmarket, shared her secret for holding the shape when baking her favourite cut out sugar cookies with butter. “When you cut the cookie out, put the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes before you bake them,” she suggests. “You’re baking the cookies when they’re cold, so you don’t get any spreading.”
If you’re a fan of chewy cookies you can melt the butter before adding it to the sugars and of course, cook them a few minutes shorter than the recipe calls for. Brown sugar will give you a chewy cookie while white sugar makes them crisper. Speaking of crisp cookies, try using two egg yolks instead of a whole egg and you’ll be surprised how much crispier each bite will be.
Anyone who loves to bake during the holidays knows that Christmas baking is much more than about baking cookies – it is a way to celebrate life, family and friendship. These irresistibly sweet, treats are perfect for gifting, decorating the tree and of course, leaving for Santa. To you and your family this holiday, all of my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.
by Lynn Ogryzlo & Charlotte Ottaway
Lynn Ogryzlo is a food, wine and travel writer, international award winning author and regular contributor to Look Local Magazine. She can be reached for questions or comments at www.lynnogryzlo.ca.