It’s December and I’m gonna be honest… I love Christmas cookies for breakfast with my coffee. I keep a secret (ok, not so secret) stash of cookies for my personal enjoyment during the month of December. The other morning I awoke to find that my cookie of choice was GONE! You may be saying but it’s only the first week of December, how do you have a Christmas cookie stash already. It all began 10 years ago….
Christmas day for all of my young life included a trip to Grandma & Grandpa O’s house. I don’t remember the specific foods we had from year to year but I do remember the cookies. Every year included platters of Christmas cookies. I knew what I liked but I didn’t care much where they came from until 10 years ago. My grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my grandparents had decided to leave their home of 30 years for a facility that could care for Grandpa. It also marked the year that we prematurely lost my Aunt Jan. So that December we all gathered at Grandma & Grandpa’s to make the Christmas cookies together that had previously magically appeared on Christmas day. We were short one member and slowly losing another but we gathered all together to learn the secrets of Grandma’s Christmas cookies before it was too late.
My mom documented our cookie adventure in a cookbook for everyone to enjoy as the years passed. But for me, making the cookies alone didn’t hold the same joy as making them with my family. I’m not sure if it was my facebook whining or just happenstance but last year my Aunt Sue scheduled cookie day for Thanksgiving weekend when my mom, the kids and I always visit my Grandparents’ new home town. It worked out so well that we decided to make it an annual tradition.
Not everyone is able to make it to cookie day, the cousins are spread out from Chicago to Connecticut but anyone who can come is welcome. We break out my mom’s cookbook and the tried and true O family cookie recipes. This year I lugged my kitchen aid 160 plus miles because nothing else can hold up to 6 hours of cookie dough making. The 3rd generation (mine and my cousins kids) are in charge of frosting the sugar cookies and rolling anything that needs rolling. It’s exhausting but awesome to spend that time with 3 generations of our family making the cookies that we’ve enjoyed for years.
Let’s get back to my missing cookie. It’s not only my favorite but my husband’s. I tried to make it alone last year but fail terribly, but this year, with the help of my family, I got it right. It was also my Grandpa’s favorite. We lost Grandpa to a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s this spring and I’ll never eat this cookie without thinking of him.
Molasses Spice Cookies
¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cloves (I’d cut this in half, it got left our completely this year and replaced with pumpkin pie spice and they were still delicious)
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, add egg and molasses. Slow mixer down and add dry ingredients. Chill batter for at least 20 minutes. Roll into small balls then roll in sugar. Place on greased (or parchment lined) cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
They will look slightly uncooked but that is good. If you bake them longer you can’t eat them without dunking in coffee because they’ll be rock hard. I speak from experience here. I took them to a cookie exchange last year without sampling them after they cooled and had to watch my friends politely choke them down. Not cool.