Northeast Times

The Santa Diet

Santa might make two stops at your house for these cook­ies.

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)

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