There are a few commonalities within the human race that are historically universal. These are the elements that bind our species together, and create a sense of community in an otherwise combative world. Cookies, recorded as being baked and consumed since the 7th century C.E., have evolved into being one of these mutual components. Cookies weren’t historically produced for the satisfaction of our international sweet tooth, though. They were created as miniature cakes, to test early wood-fire oven temperatures, before the thermostat was invented. This led to the discovery that smaller portions with less moisture produced baked goods that remained fresh for longer periods of time, and took better to travel. This has always been important around this time of year, as traveling to our annual festivities is another tradition that has been celebrated historically. Long before holidays were commercialized, winter solstice festivals took place, the last celebration before deep winter set in. While the merrymaking of the past didn’t include tacky sweaters and Michael Bublé’s Christmas album, one element has always remained the same: the celebration of food and the gifting of cookies. So when you drive by Gatchell’s light display and the Betty Crocker inside of you says to get going on those holiday cookies, just know that this feeling is more primitive than gluttonous.
I thought I should honor the timeless tradition of trading and sharing holiday recipes, so I sought out some Islanders with a knack for baking. In doing so it was proven once again that our community is full of talent and ability. There is nothing like a little something that can transport you back in time, and nothing tastes as great as a recipe from home.
Molasses Cookies by ‘Tiny Baker’ Erica deForest
They’re thin, chewy, and have a hint of spice without being spicy. These can also be showered in sifted confectioners sugar, or iced with royal icing, either fully covered or in a zigzag swirl pattern, and topped with holiday sprinkles.
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar (or sub with brown)
¼ cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
Roll dough into walnut-size balls, and coat them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.
Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls by Nancy Nevin
2 cups peanut butter
1 lb. box confectioners sugar
1 cup crushed vanilla wafers
2 sticks of butter
3 16-oz. bags of semisweet chocolate chips
½ bar Gulf Wax
Mix peanut butter, sugar, vanilla wafers, and butter. Roll into balls about 1 inch thick. Add chocolate and wax to a double boiler over medium heat and melt, stirring frequently. Dip the balls in the chocolate and let cool and set for at least an hour, or once the chocolate is firm. Nancy recommends making them in the evening and letting them cool overnight.
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by Ana Christina Jurczyk
A spin on the classic, made with whole ingredients and low in added sugars. These simple chewy cookies are customizable and enjoyable for everyone!
2 cups almond flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup coconut sugar
Pinch of salt
(Optional) 1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup organic butter or coconut oil, softened
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup organic dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Optional to grease your cookie sheet with butter or coconut oil.
Mix together almond flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, and optional spices in a bowl.
Add softened butter or coconut oil and stir by hand until mixed, it will form thick dough.
Add egg and vanilla to bowl and mix well, this should make dough easier to mix. Dough should be easy to form.
Add chocolate chips or cacao nibs and stir by hand until incorporated. Form dough into balls on a sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until tops are starting to brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!