Now I understand why my mom was never quite as excited about baking Christmas cookies as I was as a kid.

Remember those cookies I stayed home to bake? Yeah, never doing that again. I’m still finding bits of flour and dough in random places like the toaster-oven knob!

The gingersnaps were fairly easy, and I discovered a little trick for making the tops get that nice crackly look: Brush the tops of the dough balls with maple syrup, then dip them in granulated sugar, before placing them on the sheet and baking. I think I used a gingersnap recipe from the Bon Appetit cookbook, but to be honest, I can’t quite recall.

Maple-glazed gingersnaps.

But the “Moravian White Christmas Cookies” were definitely not as easy as The Gourmet Cookie Book made them look/sound.

They lost me at: “Add sufficient flour to stiffen the dough.” (How much flour would be too much? How stiff is stiffened? Argh! Vague recipes drive mediocre bakers like myself crazy.) The first batch I rolled out stuck to the counter like paste. The second was only slightly better. Hearing my grunts of frustration getting louder, my dear husband intervened just as I was about to throw the whole mess out.

By the last batch, we’d worked enough flour in to make things more manageable, and had figured out that it was best to keep most of the dough in the freezer while rolling the rest. The points of the stars kept getting caught in the cookie cutter, resulting in lots of re-rolling and more grunts of frustration.

Sherry-flavored Moravian Christmas cookies from The Gourmet Cookie Book, before icing.

Still, in the end they looked decent with some basic white icing (confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, water, and a few drops of sherry to match the cookie flavor). I took them to a friend’s Christmas party the next day, where they got added to a platter with approximately 17,000 other types of cookies. About halfway through the party, I crossed paths with a woman I didn’t know who was surveying the spread of sweets.
“I’m on a diet, but I’ve decided to let myself have just one cookie, so I’m trying to decide which one I want the most,” she said. Guess what she picked? 🙂

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