When he visits your house on Christmas Eve, don’t disappoint that man in the red suit and white beard. A batch or two of homemade cookies is a sure way to share the jollies of the jingle-bell season. After all, a journey of about 3,400 miles, as the reindeer fly, is worthy of a special treat. Everyone loves Christmas cookies, especially the original, jolly, Jelly Belly. But he does get some cookie consumption competition at my house around holiday time.
When my guys were little, the tooth fairy frequented our home, on and off, but she somehow never seemed to take their sweet tooth. Since then, I have come to believe that retaining a sweet tooth may be an inherited family trait, as my husband, Jerry, has been seen leaving the kitchen with “hot” cookies in hand around holiday time.
Observation and experience have taught me that when baking Christmas cookies, cookie monsters of all sizes, shapes and ages will be waiting near the oven door. It is a wise idea to use the following tested and proven technique to thwart the premature disappearance of the fruits of your labors. Armed with a spatula and a stern look, firmly caution all potential cookie munchers that they had better not touch the Christmas cookies, as they are being baked for Christmas. Threaten to check for chocolate-chip breath or traces of sugar lips.
But here is the most important part. Proceed with cookie making, but from the corner of your eye watch as tiptoeing figures quickly and quietly snatch a cookie or two from the table. Pretend not to notice, though, as these first, few, forbidden cookies frequently are the very best-tasting ones of the holiday season. I know this to be the truth because of personal tastings from Christmases long past.
Although the word cookie is strictly American, it comes from the Dutch word koekje, meaning “little cake.” The British have always consumed biscuits, but Americans eat cookies.
Christmas is a sweet time – a time for cookies. Everyone has a favorite recipe, whether it’s for a chocolate chip or a butter cookie. Recently, an old recipe returned to me. Many years ago, my brother John’s girlfriend brought her homemade cookies to our home. They were sensational and were made using saltine crackers. Over the years, I had misplaced the recipe. It’s interesting that my friend, Cookie, recently reintroduced and returned this good recipe to me. True to her namesake, Cookie is both smart and sweet, as well as being a very good cook.
The following recipe makes a big pan of great-tasting treats. Even spur-of-the-moment invitations and hectic holidays allow enough time to assemble these homemade confections to delight family and friends. These are sure to be one of Santa’s favorites. Don’t forget the milk.
COOKIE’S SALTINE (OR PRETZEL) CHOCOLATE TOFFEE COOKIES
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
12 oz. chocolate chips
Saltines or pretzels (use waffle or mini)
½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Coarse salt or sea salt (if using pretzels - optional)
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Line a rimmed cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with non-stick foil, or use regular foil and lightly spray foil with oil.
-Lay crackers or pretzels side by side on foil in single layer to fill pan.
-In a medium saucepan, combine butter and sugar over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil all the while stirring/whisking frequently. Mixture will expand, so using a little larger pot than seems necessary will save a mess.
-When mixture reaches a full boil, reduce to a medium boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Remove from heat and immediately pour butter mixture over crackers or pretzels.
-Spread mixture over crackers or pretzels to cover them.
-Bake in 375-degree oven for 6-7 minutes.
-Remove pan from oven and distribute chocolate chips evenly over crackers or pretzels.
-Return pan to oven for 30 seconds (be vigilant – chocolate burns if left too long in oven) so chocolate will melt.
-Smooth melted chocolate chips evenly over crackers/pretzels. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired.
-Sprinkle with coarse salt for sweet and salty treat.
-Cool and then refrigerate about 2 hours or longer.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)