What goes along with the holiday season better than a plate of cookies? Countless seasonal traditions involve the mighty cookie, from childhood through adulthood. Cookies can be large or small, chewy or crispy, dropped or sliced, and enhanced with any combination of chocolate, fruit, nuts, coconut, peanut butter or molasses. Just to name a few…
When I was young I looked forward to an annual church event where a long buffet table was covered with gingerbread men; sugar cookie bells, stars, and snowmen; bowls of colored frosting with popsicle stick spreaders; and containers of sprinkles. We ate as fast as we decorated, and paid the price later.
Many folks mark Christmas Eve with a very special place setting of milk and cookies for the man himself, Jolly Old Saint Nick. In my family we left out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I begrudgingly agree that cookies are the preferred offering.
As adults, cookies are baked and given as gifts during the holiday season, often from a favorite family recipe. They are also the main attraction in cookie swaps, a type of holiday gathering where the guests each bring a plate of the their favorite cookie, then swap and share with one another so the plate they take home has more variety than a dogeared box of Christmas ornaments.
To kick off the holiday cookie season, I present to you my current favorite holiday cookie – Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies, featured in the current Yankee Magazine cookbook “Best New England Recipes: Homemade Favorited for Every Season
“. Not only are they everything I like a cookie to be (buttery and chock full of dried fruit and nuts), but the green from the pistachios and red from the cranberries makes them look especially festive.
The pistachio shelling takes a little work, but it’s worth it when you see a measuring cup full of bright green pistachios.
Also, the beauty of icebox cookies (an old-fashioned term for when the fridge was called an icebox – no ice needed today) is that they are essentially homemade “slice and bake” cookies – you shape the dough into rounded or squared logs, chill it, roll it is coarse sugar, then slice and bake.
What you get is crisp, evenly shaped, stackable cookies that transport well and make great gifts.
Happy cookie making, baking, and sharing!
Click to view and print the recipe for Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies.