Christmas Cookie Exchange ’08!

This year’s cookie exchange was full of Christmas cheer and a decent mix of ethnic, traditional and weird cookies – it also came with a head over heels surprise. First, the cookies! I made melomakaronia, a traditional Greek Christmas cookie, the usual sugar cookies and what Good Housekeeping refers to as ‘window pane cookies’. The melomakaronia wasn’t half as difficult as it usually is for me, every time I’ve tried to make them in the past they are hard as hockey pucks – one year we frosted them with black icing and gave them away as coal. This year, however, I learned the trick to them – a trick you’d think my very Greek mother or aunts would have let me in on by now.

Melomakaronia
My Melomakaronia

The trick is to soak the baked cookies in a mix of boiled honey and water before you sprinkle with ground almonds! Next time I’ll use brown sugar instead of refined sugar and molasses instead of honey, that should make them richer and thicker and you know, Greeker. The window pane cookies were essentially just the usual sugar cookies cut into circles with a smaller design cut out of half of them, jam spread on the solid half and then topped with the other half. They look nice and complicated but they’re super easy.

Window Pane Cookies
(My Version of) Good Housekeeping's Window Pane Cookies

Lindsay also went ethnic and made traditional Scottish shortbread, it was so good I ate all but one piece, and that was only because wee one #2 swiped it from me. I hope she gives me a lesson in making them because I’d eat these all year!

Lindsay's Scottish Shortbread
Lindsay's Scottish Shortbread

Manda wins the weird award this year for her Amish sweet bread, which for the record, is honestly quite good.

Manda's Amish Loaf!
Manda's Amish Loaf!

It’s not weird specifically because it’s Amish, it’s weird because the dough lives on the counter in a big Ziploc bag for 10 days before you bake it. Directions for 8 of the 10 days are simply ‘mush the bag’. Naturally I jumped at the chance for her to share the starter with me so I can make my own weird Amish sweet bread. My husband machine, Mr. Original Flavor, wants nothing to do with it natch but I must try it myself!

Emerald’s deliciousness this year came in the form of cranberry cookies with icing! They were yummy and pretty and extremely special – not just because the cookies were rad, but this may be our last cookie exchange with her for a while, since she’s moving to North Carolina next year.

Emerald's Cranberry Cookies
Emerald's Cranberry Cookies

Talea joined us as well, and while we all adored her butterscotch chip cookies last year, this year she brought *store bought cookies* to the cookie exchange. Insanity, right? We were going to let her off the hook until she asked us to ask her why she didn’t bake cookies, and so we asked, and this was her reply.

Talea's Engaged!
Talea's Engaged!

I am so happy for her I could burst, getting married was never something Talea cared much about, and she would have been happy to live with her man forever without ever getting married, but he decided to surprise her anyway – after 8 years together! I am also excited to go out to the middle of Canada and stand in her wedding, I wonder how the kids will handle the 3 hour plane ride? Or maybe we’ll leave them in Ontario? Yeah right!

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