The first Christmas Mark and I were together, we combined our baking super powers to make assorted holiday cookie/treat boxes for friends and family. The tradition grew over the next few years, each year upping the ante and making the box bigger and badder. Last year, because of Maggie’s surgery and its associated expense, we had to forego the cookie boxes. This year, we prepared to resurrect the tradition and got our plans together, including the necessary three days off of work it requires. And then Maggie passed away the morning we were supposed to start.
We decided there would be no better way to work through our sadness than to spread some cheer and joy, so we forged ahead. Two and a half days later, we had 16 cookie packages ready to be sent across the country and hand delivered to family and friends. And our dining room looked like Santa’s workshop exploded.
Mark has a family recipe for fruitcake that actually tastes good. It’s such an intense job to make that it has to be mixed in a food grade bucket, but it’s worth it.
My grandma Taylor was known for her cookies, and the molasses cookies she always made came from her mother’s recipe. They are amazing chilled in the freezer, dipped in hot coffee.
I am slowly becoming a biscotti fan, and after I made chocolate peppermint biscotti with candy canes and white chocolate for our 2011 boxes, I had to repeat it this year.
I also experimented a few years ago with homemade marshmallows, and they made an appearance as well. This recipe is even good as they dry out, and they go great over a mug of cocoa.
Mark made batches of a classic favorite – white chocolate cranberry oatmeal.
Shortbread is one of my favorites, so I tried a new recipe for vanilla sables, which was delicious (and also didn’t crumble like a lot of shortbread does).
Mark made eggnog fudge, which was a hit even with people (like me) who don’t like traditional eggnog.
I can’t bake anything without considering at least one item that includes peanut butter, so I tried a classic Good Housekeeping recipe for toffee peanut butter rounds. Not the prettiest cookies in the world, but definitely the kind where you can eat 4 without even thinking.
Two boxes got a special addition, due to these particular family members having an affinity for them – vanilla coconut macaroons.
And last but not least are my favorites each year – sci fi gingerbread. Being geeks to the core, we love our Star Wars and Star Trek cookie cutters. (The Star Wars once are from Williams Sonoma and the Star Trek ones were custom-made for me by an Etsy seller, though Think Geek sells some now.)
In the interest of time, we used white royal icing and colored sugar instead of coloring all of the icing and filling in the cookie details. But they still turned out awesome and close to the right colors (Chewy got close with orange).
I particularly love the red symbol of the Klingon empire. The warrior’s cookie of choice.
Star Trek: Delta shield, Vulcan salute, Klingon empire
Star Wars (light side): R2D2, Yoda, C3PO and Chewbacca
Star Wars (dark side): Darth Vader, Storm Trooper, Boba Fett, Death Star
We even had enough grape jelly that we could share a half pint in each box!