Christmas Baking Past and Present

My mother can cook.  But, like I do, she prefers to bake.  At Christmas time she would make dozens of cookies.

I remember rainbow colored petit fours, butterballs, walnut cups, spritz made with the classic twist press, New Zealand Holly Cookies (raspberry filled holly leaf shaped roll out butter cookies iced with a glaze ,with cinnamon hots for berries), roll out butter cookies decorated with sprinkles, and buckeyes.  She doesn’t make nearly as many now as there aren’t teen aged girls and their friends in the house to help eat them.  But I remember the process.  I can picture the pile of Christmas tins full of cookies.  I remember having to open a bunch of tins to find the cookie that I was looking for.

I remember being drafted to help roll buckeyes as I got older.  Mom always did the dipping, though.  And for years she has hosted a Cookie Exchange.  She started hosting them before they became the thing to do, had cook books written specifically for them, and began to be showcased on The Food Network.  The buckeyes were her contribution to the selection.  The one year that she wanted to make something else the rest of the Moms when up in arms.  Then again, Mrs. B wasn’t allowed to make anything other than meringues with mini chocolate chips.  Now that Mom has moved to NC and hosts one down there, she makes whatever she wants and the buckeyes are for the family.  I can also remember other kids asking when the exchange was going to be so that they could haunt their Moms for the cookies.  Some of the Moms snuck the filled tins right into the freezer when they got home so that they’d have cookies left for Christmas Day.

I make buckeyes for the cookie exchange that I go to.  We have a great group of friends whose beginnings come from going country line dancing.  We meet for a few parties each year and one is the cookie exchange.  Most of us have a specific cookie that we have to make.  Some can vary their contribution.  But they are not happy if I don’t make buckeyes or JK doesn’t make PB Blossoms.  The Cub and M’Lord don’t object to the buckeyes, either.  They even helped roll and package this year.

What do I make, otherwise, for Christmas Cookies?  Hmmm…this year I’ve made Chocolate Krackle Cookies so far.  I am planning to make spritz (with that classic twist press that Mom gave to me), roll out butter cookies, and possibly butterballs.  I can halve the butterball recipe easily and not end up with tons of them.  Not a huge variety, but with the cookie exchange cookies and other Christmas treats we don’t really need that many cookies begging to be eaten.  And I’d like to make meringues.  Possible for Christmas dessert.

But I do bake cakes.  It is another thing that my Mom did.  Small loaves of Chocolate Chip Poundcake, 7Up Poundcake, Sour Cream Poundcake, possibly Chocolate Marble Loaf, and Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut bread will be baked and wrapped and labeled and ribboned.  These go to the neighbors and The Cub’s teacher, among other people.  I do need to bake more small cake loaves.  I don’t have enough to give out at Christmas yet.  The brick wall in the freezer is very short right now.

Maybe making a list of ingredients would be a good idea right now.


6 responses to this post.

  1. My mouth is watering as I read. My grandma used to make hundreds of cookies every year for Christmas, and send each grandchild home with a tin of them after Christmas. I loved it! Now, I love to bake, and am planning gingerbread cookies and dark chocolate brownie cookies for this weekend.

    Our neighbors in Chicago sent us over a Christmas coffee cake our first year there, and I was so charmed by the idea that I’ve tried to “pass it on” but with cookies, whenever I can.


  2. How did I miss this post? I just love the traditions and memories that certain cookies bring forth. My grandma was Queen of the Peanut Butterball at Christmastime. (I never knew they were called buckeyes in other parts of the country, until college.) We’d beg her to make them, and every year she would complain that everyone wants them, but no one wants to do the work. Her recipe made 180 (!!) balls that were fully dipped in chocolate, like truffles. We’d always promise to help, which we did for about an hour. 🙂 We also begged her to make wreath cookies, which she didn’t mind because they were significantly less work. I am in charge of toffee, linser cookies, pfeffernusse, egg nog logs, and yes–now the (sun)butter balls.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Lisa!


    • BTW–I would love your 7Up pound cake recipe. I’ve always wanted to try that cake.


      • I would be happy to share the recipe. You are very familiar with where I got it from….The Pioneer Woman. It is her Perfect Pound Cake recipe. I’ve tried a couple of others that use some shortening with the butter but like the all butter better. The only thing that I usually change is the butter flavoring. I usually don’t have that around so I use vanilla.

        If you can get White Lily All Purpose Flour by you, then try that in this recipe, too. One cup and two TBSP of White Lily in exchange for one cup of regular AP flour.

      • Ha! Made me laugh! Thank goodness for PW putting up her recipes. I’ve seen White Lilly flour at the store, so I’ll give your method a try. Thanks, Lisa!

      • Have you seen Jeanne Robertson’s routine on 7Up Pound Cake? If not, please enjoy this link…


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