Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Serendipity 13. A New Twist on an Old Activity: Inventing Cookies

Although I am a very terrible shopper (just ask my sister Katrinka), there are two parts of the holiday season that I absolutely love.  One is having the chance to celebrate Wigilia with family and/or friends, which I'll be doing once again this year in Tacoma next week.  The other is baking Christmas cookies.  And I have to confess that, after a year of being an absolute beginner of so many things, it was fun to actually do an activity where I feel like I know what I'm doing.  But the spirit of 52 New Things seems to have taken on a life of its own in everything I do, and this year, it inspired me to branch out a bit and try to invent (or maybe that's a bit much, and I should say modify) some new recipes. 

Something old and something new -- peanut butter blossoms and Lemon Driskies
So, this season my plates have three new cookies, all created out of standard recipes I got from somewhere else.  The first two came from a desire to add a new form of cookie to my repertoire this year -- shortbread.  Although, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am fond of soft, doughy cookies, some of my nearest and dearest, namely Chris and Lilly, prefer cookies that are richer and drier -- hence the need to learn to make shortbread.  So, I tried a classic shortbread recipe, but it felt slightly boring to me, and I decided to jazz it up a little and make it lemon.  I added lemon peel to the dough, and then thought I'd like to do a lemon glaze, but wasn't sure if the glaze was too much.  I gave an experimental half glazed/half plain sample cookie to Drisk, and asked for his opinion.  He suggested keeping it half-glazed, and a new cookie was born.  I named it -- in his honor -- the Lemon Drisky.
Here's Drisk making tidy rows of his namesake cookie

Inspired by the Driskies, I decided to keep experimenting, and tried almond as well.  They have almond extract and chopped almonds in them, and an almond glaze on top.  After sampling the 11 varieties of cookies I made this year, Chris decided those were his favorite.  In his honor, they are now Almond Bennetts. (Chris actually wound up doing very well in my frenzy of cookie naming, because he also recently suggested that his second favorite type, heretofore known to my friends and family who eat them as Molasses Crinkles, should get a new name as well, at least at Christmastime.  They have become Chris Crinkles, which I had to agree was a highly appropriate name)
Chris showing off the two cookies with names he inspired-- Almond Bennetts and Chris Crinkles

Finally, yesterday, in an effort to break up the grading that has taken over my life, I decided to take an intermission and bake off some doughs that were still hanging out in the fridge.  I used up all the peanut butter cookie dough I had making peanut butter blossoms, but wound up with some extra chocolate kisses, as well as some dough that I use for making jam thumbprints.  So, I did the logical experiment and wrapped some dough around the kisses, and the result looks a lot like the kind of sweet dumpling you'd find at a Chinese bakery (which you may recall from the post on 24 hours without sleeping in New York City is my idea of heaven).  When she was up helping with the biggest round of baking last weekend, Siham had been wondering about the Lemon Driskies and how one got in on the cookie naming.  So, today she became part of the trilogy when I named the day's experiment after her.  They are Siham Surprises.

Siham learning the fine art of rolling peanut butter blossoms
I'm pretty sure that if the world's human rights abuses went away tomorrow, and it was time for me to roll up my activist agenda and tuck it away, I'd open a bakery and invent cookies (and continuously repeat the better inventions) all day long.  That's probably not going to happen any time soon, so for now, it's only in the month of December that I go a little crazy baking cookies.  But do let me know if you want the recipes for Lemon Driskies, Almond Bennetts or Siham Surprises -- or if you're in Burlington, stop by and try one!

'Tis the season...for cookie invention -- Siham Surprises, Lemon Driskies and Almond Bennetts


  1. Ok, now you have done it, it sounds to me like the Almond Bennetts are shortbread meets marzipan and in my eyes, that is pretty much the ultimate cookie creation. I NEED to try one of those quite soon! It also sounds like Chris and I have very similar tastes in cookies (among other things) and I am very much looking forward to meeting Chris, as much if not more than trying one of the cookies named for him!

  2. Lilly,

    I mailed a tin of cookies to you and the whole L-G clan yesterday. Please let me know what you think!

  3. Now Siham can't complain about a new tradition!

  4. trish- first of all, the cookies look delicious!
    second- you should let me know when you're in tacoma (I live a 10 min ferry ride from there)! i'd love for you to come to vashon island if you have time and are there between now and dec. 28!

    happy holidays!