By Cal Orey
Christmas Cookies with a Cuppa Tea for Holidays
As one of my favorite memories go, in early wintertime I was living in Eugene, Oregon with a small group of nomadic friends. One cold day with a bit of snow on the ground and slippery black ice (foreign to a San Francisco native), I stayed indoors and baked cookies. There wasn’t a single cookbook or baking tools in the kitchen, so I had to rough it and make do with the few food items I found in the cupboards and fridge. I recalled my mom’s recipe for Snowball or Butterball Cookies. Five ingredients, a bowl, spoon, cookie sheet is about all you need--and black tea while you bake--and chamomile to get you through the ordeal.
In hindsight, the scene was funny. Once the cookies were baked and good to go, I was boxing them up to mail to relatives for Christmas—but my six down-to-earth looking roomies (and two dogs) in a tiny, spartan kitchen were eating the white butter nut balls faster than I could box the goodies and I felt flustered because it was a lost battle. The cookie monsters won. This easy-to-make recipe is inspired by post-hippie snow days on the road in December.
1 stick European style butter, softened
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (about ½ cup extra for rolling after baked)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 capful pure vanilla extract
¼-1/2 cup nuts (walnuts or pecans), chopped
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add flour and mix until creamy. Stir in vanilla. Fold in nuts. Place cookie dough on a floured cutting board and roll into a ball. Put onto a sheet of foil and into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Use a small ice cream scoop (about 1/8 cup size) and scoop dough into balls. Roll into a ball shape and place on nonstick cookie sheet or lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or until bottom of cookies are light brown. Do not over bake. Place in balls into sugar immediately. After cooled repeat. Makes 8-10. You can double the recipe as well as freeze the cookies in an airtight container. Note: Simple is elegant like silver balls on a Christmas tree. However, if you to be more festive, add 1-2 teaspoons orange rind to cookie dough and/or sprinkle cinnamon on top after the cookies are rolled in sugar to give it a snickerdoodle taste.
There are dozens and dozens of holiday cookies to make. This quick, easy recipe is a super way to begin, though. Sometimes, less is more. Not only are they affordable, ingredients are likely in your kitchen, but they are small. Also, two will fill you up and not out. Pair with a cup of tea for a morning or afternoon energizing snack to after dinner delight--and it's perfect wherever you are and what the weather gods are doing with their magic.
— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) TEA--release date December 25. Now available for order at kobo, amazon, barnesandnoble, walmart, target, and other stores.