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Best Way to Whip Up Some Holiday Spirit? Cookies.
by Mari Malcolm on November 12, 2008

OK, I'll admit that I have yet to find time to bake my first batch of the season--or possibly the year. But lately, when I'm plotting how I could get some time away from work in the next few weeks, my first thought is not a weekend on a beach. I'm dreaming of an afternoon in the kitchen, baking holiday cookies with a friend.

In my family, we've always been big on holiday cookie baking. Last year, I missed my holiday baking window, and I felt like I'd missed an essential part of the festive experience. I've also got gift list of nearly 40 people this year, and I'm thinking how pleased many of them would be with a beautiful little package of homemade treats.

So I'm planning ahead. My library includes more than a dozen baking books, several with holiday themes, but my new favorite is Lisa Zwirn's Christmas Cookies, which just came out this fall. Even if you just read cookbooks for pleasure and rarely make it to the stove, you'll enjoy the authenticity of her prose--she's the kind who describes her Baby Butter and Jam Sandwiches as "downright adorable." And as I've been stealing moments with this book over the past few evenings, my cookie list keeps shifting--and growing. Can I do Chocolate Crinkles and Swedish Dreams? I can try! Mexican Chocolate Snowballs and Italian Wine Cookies with aniseed sound deliciously unexpected, but the real decorating fun comes with simple Sugar Cookies. And isn't it time I learned to make a good macaroon?

If you've got a favorite book of cookie recipes, I'd love to hear about it. We still have lots of time to roll out some sweet holiday traditions.

6 Cookbooks to Sample
By Annie B. Copps

Who doesn't love a good cookbook? You like to read about food, I assume you like to cook, too. Great cookbooks cross my desk all the time. Here are a few recent ones that have caught my eye and palate...

Every year I say I'm going to make cookies and chocolate truffles for holiday gifts and I never do. This year I really, really, really will. And to help me make good on this promise is Lisa Zwirn with her book Christmas Cookies (William Morrow). Lisa chapters out her recipes with tips on tools and ingredients, then jumps into drop, rolled, sliced and baked, hand-shaped, filled, bar, and no-bake cookie recipes. I'm thinkin' sugar cookies cut out into iconic holiday shapes, coconut macaroons, pecan sandies, chocolate crinkles, and fig half-moons -- and a glass of cold milk, if you please.
November 2008

Get ready, get set, bake!

Now, a little something for the holiday baker. Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn serves up 50 recipes for these beloved bite-sized sweets that shape memories and conjure up the magic of the season. Traditional treasures, such as Sugar Cookies stamped into shapes and decorated with Royal Icing, buttery Viennese Crescents and Swedish Dreams share the stage with new favorites like Baci Brownies, Eggnog Cookies and Sachertorte Bars. And Lisa offers good advice on storing, shipping, gift wrapping and baking with kids.
Give the gift of cookies