Here Cookie, Here Cookie, Cookie Cookie Cookie

Or, to put it another way: Stop her before she bakes again.

home made christmas cookies

The decorated dark ones are gingerbread; pale stars are sugar cookies. Little round coconut covered jobs are rum balls; crescents are vanilla crescents (known as Moth cookies in our family). Round ones in the back are two kinds of jumbles and the dark rounds in the middle are Mexican chocolate chocolate chip.

I expect to discuss the Christmas Ham in the very near future, and may also pony up a picture of The Tree.

But first, even without cues from the weather, little miss knee jerk has responded to the usual stimulae in the usual fashion. Five or six pounds of butter, along with a similar weight of nuts but vastly less sugar  –  one of the reasons home made cookies taste so much better than store bought –  have already been put to use and I can tell there’s more to come.

The recipe for the gingerbread is here; rum balls are here and vanilla crescents here. The jumbles are David Schama’s Jumbles, via Rose Levy Berenbaum. The dark ones are the original (almonds, pecans, bittersweet chocolate and raisin);  the  pale ones are  pistachio, white chocolate and apricot.  Recipe is at the end of this post, where there are also recipes for Bill’s favorite spritz and my favorite pffernuesse and a link to James Beard’s Let’s Sugar Cookies, the recipe I use –  with a little less sugar and a little more mace..

I told you I wasn’t finished yet.

Mexican Chocolate Chocolate Chip Refrigerator Cookies

The Mexican part is cinnamon and almonds; there is no hot pepper. (If after all the recent overuse that combo’s still ringing your bell, I’m sure you could add a bit.) Be warned that these are crisp cookies. They have only the chips in common with the kind of “chocolate chip cookies” the phrase brings to mind, and if you use chocolate without emulsifiers they won’t even have that.

For about 40 cookies:

1 ¼ c. all purpose flour

3 tbl. cocoa

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. clove

(a generous pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter)

4 oz. butter, malleable but not squishy

¾ c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

½ c. small chips of bittersweet chocolate*

½ – ¾ c. finely chopped almonds

1. In a small bowl, stir flour, cocoa, spices (and salt if using) with a wire whisk until they’re well combined. Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar; beat in the egg and vanilla; then stir in the flour mixture and lastly the chips.

3. The dough will be soft, but firm enough to form into rolls. If it isn’t, chill just long enough to shape. Set the almonds out on a plate. Divide dough in half.

4. Shape each half into a roll about 1 ½ ” in  diameter and roll in the almonds, pressing to embed them. Wrap the rolls tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. The rolls freeze well for longer storage if wrapped again in something more protective.

5. At baking time, heat oven to 350. Cut rolls into slices about  3/8ths inch thick and put the slices about an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake just until a broken cookie looks dry inside, 10 to 12 minutes or more depending on your oven. If the first broken cookie isn’t done, leave it on the sheet and break one of the halves for the next check.

6. Let cool a moment on the sheets, then transfer to a rack. Cookies will be soft when removed from the oven and become crisp on cooling.

* Chopped up high-end candy bar is fine. The chocolate chips I use are the little drops of  Michel Cluizel couverture Kayambe Noir (72%) sold by Chocosphere.

 A Note about the Jumbles:

Using chopped white chocolate (in this case Caillebaut) and apricots instead of bittersweet and raisins yields a very different texture because the fat melts out of the chocolate and the apricots don’t absorb as much moisture as raisins do. Result is a richer, crisper, flatter cookie.

 2 kinds of jumble cookies

If you want cookies with white chocolate chips to stand up, either cut the butter or up the flour.


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  • Ladleah Said,

    Um…yes please! I’ll take four of each.

  • Pam O Said,

    Leslie – having made refrigerator cookies for the first time recently, I have a question: how do you cut the buggers once the roll of dough is cold and hard, without mushing the part of the roll that you’re holding with one hand while you saw gently back and forth with the knife in the other???? The cookies I made were a Dorie Greenspan recipe (sables) and had egg yolk brushed on the outside of the cold dough roll which was then sprinkled with sugar before one cut the cookie slices. I had quite a time trying to make round-shaped cookie slices with sugar intact along the edge… They tasted great, but sure didn’t look quite right. Any suggestions? Maybe the secret is in the knife blade, or maybe letting the dough warm up slightly before trying to cut the cookies? Or not worrrying about shape and perfection? Happy holidays and enjoy all your yummy-looking cookies.

    Hi Pam,and happy holidays to you. Also happy future icebox cookie days (having a roll in the freezer is very useful in summer fruit season).

    Cutting IS always a somewhat vexed issue. Some suggestions: make 2 or 3 short rolls instead of one long one. That way it’s easier to control the temperature of the dough, which as you’ve guessed should be firm but not hard. Let it come to cool room temperature all the way through before attempting to slice. Then slice, don’t saw, using a very sharp,very thin bladed knife much longer than seems necessary (i.e. 8 inch knife for roll 1.5 ” in diameter). As for keeping the coating in place: use strong pressure at forming time,then re-chill to set the coating. Be sure the roll is still at cool room temp. when you slice, and protect the unsliced portion with a piece of plastic wrap so the coating doesn’t stick to your hand.
    Finally, as you’ve also noticed, perfection of shape is of little consequence when the cookies taste as good as Dorie’s do.

  • Susan Scheid Said,

    I’m a little late getting here, but oh, boy do those cookies look delicious! And no, I don’t think for one minute we should “stop her before she bakes again,” unless of course, the baker herself might enjoy a little respite from it! Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year yerself; and you’re not really late at all. (It’s never too late for cookies, as far as I’m concerned.) This baker will indeed be ready for at least a brief respite, but not – you will be relieved to know – until after 12th night.

  • Vee Said,

    My stove went on the fritz before Christmas thus ending all dreams of homemade cookies. These all look wonderful. I would’ve felt much worse to have seen them before Christmas knowing that there was nothing I could do about it. I remember your baking cookies and sending them to Roger and family from the book Three Thousand Mile Garden. I suppose some might have been these.

    I hope that I am not too late to wish you a wonderful New Year!

    Hi Vee, and a Happy New Year to you, too — never too late for good wishes! Reluctant cooks might envy you – no pressure to do holiday cooking if there’s nothing to cook on – but it sounds like a nightmare to me and I dearly hope it’s long over by now.
    You’re semi-right about the cookies. I did send Roger some decorated gingerbread and the recipe for that kind is in the book. But the ones in the book are designed to be super-durable, able to hang on the tree for a few weeks before being consumed. The ones featured in this post are both more delicate and more delicious. (I make them – as hearts – for Valentine’s day, too, if you were wanting an excuse to catch up.)

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