Christmas is time for baking. Christmas-cookie making is a global phenomenon. There are few Christmas-celebrating nations that do not have some kind of cookie tradition. Some substitute things like cake, pie, tarts, or other sweet things for cookies, but the principle is still there. Christmas is hardly Christmas without cookies.
In the Rambler family household, the cookie baking tradition has shifted over the years. We started out with sugar cookies with multi-colored sprinkles. Post-Germany excursion, we moved on to baking Lebkuchen, which is like gingerbread, only awesome-er. To that repertoire we have added no-bake chocolate-and-peanut-butter cookies, as well as peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses plopped in their centers. This year we added oatmeal cookies, since we like to pretend to be healthy in this family and oatmeal is Daddy’s favorite.
Mother and I have a system. I am the champion stirrer. She mans the oven. I assemble the dry ingredients. She handles the wet. We split our time operating the mixer. In the case of the Lebkuchen, I roll out the dough and use the cookie cutter. If we’re making drop cookies, we both attack the bowl of batter with spoons in hand. Most of the dough makes it onto the cookie sheet. Most.
Of course, one of the crucial steps in the cookie-baking process is taste testing. You eat a bit of the dough to make sure the taste is right and you didn’t forget any ingredients. You scrape the bowl to make cleanup easier. After the cookies are baked, there is the essential First Bite of Cookie to make sure they turned out okay. And if one cookie is accidentally damaged in the transition from cookie sheet to cooling rack (accidentally, mind you), then of course it’s no longer good enough to give away—so you might as well eat it.
I am no chef. My cooking skills are limited at best. But I do have one meager tip to offer all of my fellow Christmas-cookie-bakers. Before you bake, exercise. Exercise for hours. That’s the only way you’ll ever be able to forgive yourself after a day of baking cookies.