Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This really is the most wonderful time of year! I just love all of the activities that the Christmas season brings. I love decorating the tree, looking at Christmas lights, shopping for presents, wrapping presents, baking cookies, listening to Christmas music, drinking hot chocolate... I could go on forever!

This year, we decided to break up our Christmas cookie plans so that we would be able to make a large variety of cookies with both sides of the family. We didn't get as many done as we had originally planned but we made a good start. I will probably be doing a bit more baking this week since 1) Christmas is next week, 2) Mike and I both have work Christmas parties I need to make something for, and 3) I LOVE COOKIES!

I worked over the weekend with my mom to make some of my grandmother's delicious Sugar cookies and Peanut Blossoms. We only made a few dozen of each but we ended up eating so many of them that we didn't have that many to put away! Mike and my dad helped out quite a bit with the eating too. Looks like we'll be making more of each!

We also went over to Grammy's last Thursday night to do a little holiday baking. Since probably October, Grammy has been talking about showing me how to make Mike's favorite cookie (it's also a Whittaker family tradition). I was glad that I finally found some time to spend one-on-one with Grammy so she could show me how to make the cookies.

Since I met Mike, Grammy's Christmas cookies have always been a pretty special ordeal. Every year, in the weeks before Christmas, she bakes hundreds and hundreds of cookies of many different classic varieties. For the last few years, the grandchildren have taken over a lot of the baking since there are so many that need to be made. Every year, she counts the number of cookies that she makes and records each type in a cookie book. The list includes common types like spritz and sugar but there are a few types that, before I met the Whittaker family, I had never heard of. The cookie that Grammy taught me how to make was one of these. It goes by the name of Pfeffernusse!

I also took a lesson from Grammy on how to pronounce the name correctly. It's a German "pepper" cookie (that's what the "pfeffer" means). While it does have black pepper in it, you can't really taste it. To me, they taste more like a cinnamon/gingerbread spiced cookie. They smell heavenly and are actually pretty easy to make. I didn't make up the dough but it sat overnight in the fridge before we cut it. She showed me step by step how to cut, space, bake and roll the cookies in the sugar. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed spending the time with her.

The coolest part was checking out the original version of the recipe - which is hardly legible now from wear and tear through the years. Classic!

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