Cranberry Bliss Bars

I can’t remember exactly when I had my first Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar but I do remember thinking (in no particular order): it could become a very expensive habit, sitting out in the air too long would make them go stale quickly, and only having them available during Christmas holidays was not an option…. I mean, what’s a girl to have as a treat with her coffee mid-March? A cake pop?! Pfft! That’s so last fad.  Never to be outfoxed by a baked good, I went searching into the ether and came back with a promising knock-off recipe … which I further knocked off.  Peace and sanity were restored and mah belly was happy.

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Mintywiches – Andes Candies Sandwich Cookies

A crisp, intensely chocolatey cookie sandwiching a creamy minty Andes candy, Mintywiches are the perfect addition to your cookie table … or a cold glass of milk for no occasion except your need for joy.  They are also sturdy enough to include in a cookie care package.

These cookies are the absolute favorites of both Gladys of the Suburbs and Mahatma Sissypants (according to my recipe notes from 1999).  I’ve given their nicknames here because right now they’re stepping out on old Minty … looking for greener (literally in one cookie’s case) pastures in the chocolate-mint cookie combo… but I know they’ll be back and I don’t want to out their infidelity to the world for this minor blip.

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Grandma Zemke’s Gingerbread Cookies

This delicious ginger-spiced, molassas-darkened cookie can be rolled thick and chewy or thin and crisp.  It can be adorned with frosting and sprinkles or left in it’s bare-baked splendor.  It can be enjoyed with a cold glass of milk or a dram of your favorite whiskey.  It is this family’s favorite Christmas cookie.

The universally agreed upon greatest Christmas cookie in our house isn’t even one of my family recipes. It’s BD’s maternal grandmother Helen Molnar Zemke’s gingerbread cookies.  Up until two years ago, I had never attempted the cookies. I didn’t need to.  I’d just wait until Pat (BD’s mother, Helen’s daughter, my mother-in-law … you following?) would go into her baking frenzy and suddenly boxes of gingerbread cookies would appear in our house. Read More


Absolutely Marvelous Caramel Matzoh Crunch

And it is … absolutely marvelous.

Every year when I bake the matzoh crunch, I’m reminded of a fictional account of a near-death experience in a blinding snowstorm with four of five siblings and one Mario-Andretti-Wanna-Be sister-in-law behind the wheel of a rented minivan.  As the story goes, there was a tradition, some years back, when available siblings and MAWB would make a weekend road trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas to a place within driving distance of their homes to sample and pick up beers and other provisions for Christmas.  One of these trips was to Montreal. Read More


Christmas Sugar Cookies

A buttery sugar cookie in its purest form.  Rolled thick for a nice softness or thin for a crisp bite, this cookie only gets more magical with a simple buttercream.  Sprinkles optional; enjoyment is not.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.

Mahalia Jackson or Nat King Cole singing that carol are pure Christmas spirit and everything wonderful I feel about the season. Growing up, December 1st always meant the arrival of  Mom’s stack of Christmas albums; the Advent wreath, a stiff wire form covered in fresh greens, red berries, and ribbons, topped with four candles – three purple and one pink; and the Advent calendar tacked to the kitchen door to the basement.  The season had arrived and cookies were not far behind!

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