Christmas pastry on plate with holly and pine in background

Baking: Even More Special Around the Holidays

Ever since I was able to hold myself upright, my Gramma baked with me. And it was the same with my son – Gramma baked, my baby Brayden in her one arm, a wooden spoon in the other. Although Gramma baked with all of her grandchildren (and most of her great grandchildren), I was the one who shared her passion for it. Hours before she passed away, I sat alone with her reminiscing. We shared so many memories around baking and being in the kitchen. I remember snitching cookie dough, thinking she didn’t see, and then catching her doing the same. Baking was our favorite past-time; no doubt a result of the special time and laughter shared together. These are fond, old memories I keep close to my heart, along with the new ones created as I now bake with my son.

We never needed a special occasion to bake. It was, at a minimum, a weekly activity. When there was a reason to bake, look out! Gramma would have us baking every type of cookie you could imagine, especially at Christmas. (In fact, she had three different varieties of shortbread alone.) Christmas baking was extra special. Everything looked so festive and delicious. She used special recipes from her old cookbook, brought out old copper cookie cutters, and adorned everything with red and green cherries or sprinkles. Gramma baked from the heart and with the mindset that you must always have a full assortment of treats available at a moment’s notice for anyone appearing at your doorstep. She baked for everyone – including her hair dresser, doctor, and veterinarian. Now I find myself doing the same – baking, for everyone, for any occasion, or just because. This holiday season, consider starting your own baking tradition with your family. These truly are the memories I cherish the most.

Here are some of our family favourites for homemade holiday cookies:

  • All-butter cookie-press shortbread (Christmas trees decorated with sprinkles and wreaths with pieces of cherry as the bow)
  • Whipped shortbread with cherries on top
  • Whipped shortbread with chocolate chips mixed in
    (The trick to whipped shortbread is to really beat the batter well so it’s fluffy and just drop the dough by the spoonful onto the cookie tray – don’t use a scoop or flatten the dough)
  • Traditional shortbread (cut in shapes and then iced with red or green buttercream)
  • Ice box cookies (filled with red and green cherries)
  • Thimble cookies (rolled in coconut and filled with red jam)
  • Sugar cookies (cut into seasonal shapes like stars, bells, angels, and santas; decorated with coloured sugar or sprinkles)

And, of course, there are always chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip and peanut butter – just bite size, so you can enjoy more!

Happy Holidays!

Tammy MacKinnon

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Tammy MacKinnon

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