Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Cookies: Baking, Exchanging, Eating

My aunt used to start her Christmas baking in November because she baked so many. My mom spends oodles of time making the dough for piparkūkas, then rolling them nice and thin so they'd be very crispy when baked. Now that I avoid gluten, I have not tried making piparkūkas without it, so when I do any baking, I often stick to true-and-tried classics like gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, which people gobble up - lack of gluten not-with-standing! Another item I have gifted and brought to several events this season is a pumpkin spice bread made with Namaste spice cake mix, which is particularly great for multiple food allergies/sensitivities, yet tasty enough that those without such issues will also savor it.

A friend showed me how to make his mother's version of molasses spice cookies. I loved the flavor (and smell!), as they reminded me tremendously of piparkūkas. However, I used a new gluten-free flour and the cookies turned out too dry for my liking. Other people seemed to enjoy them, though.

Another friend held a cookie exchange party. Each guest was asked to bring two or three dozen baked goodies. All of the treats were available for tasting during the party, and upon leaving we were each given an empty box to fill.
Easily the most adorable brownies ever!
There must have been at least twenty different cookies and treats, everything from lemon to peppermint-flavored cookies, from chocolate chip to oatmeal cranberry, from brownies to peanut butter buckeyes and coconut macaroons. The hostess had also set up a sugar cookie decorating station, which all of the kids in attendance loved!
One young guest was quite patient and talented!
Freshly made spiked eggnog along with other seasonal drinks were served, and luckily a few savory snacks were also available. The house was beautifully decorated....
...and fun was had by all, including the five-month old twins!
Too young for cookies, but loving the attention!
Now I'm looking forward to seasonal festivities this coming weekend - a friend's Hanukkah party (potato latkes!), and a Latvian winter solstice (pulling and burning a log, eating pork and sauerkraut!) celebration.

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