The secret to baking, my father said, is to measure everything perfectly—except how many times you lick the spoon. I was four or five and standing beside him on a Sesame Street-printed stool. I was home from school—maybe sick, but most likely playing hooky—and we were baking cookies together just in time for Christmas.
Before us on the counter was an old and yellowed family recipe. This, my father whispered, was a recipe just for us; too finicky for my mother, whose baking has always been delicious but limited to things-you-can-make-by-dropping-other-things-into-pots, and too time-consuming for my older brother, whose attention span at the time was better suited to Nintendo than stirring and beating and rolling out dough onto countertops.
We were making Nana’s Christmas Cookies—a divine (but admittedly wonky-sounding) marriage of sugar, gingerbread, and oatmeal raisin cookies with a spiced rum glaze—and we were happy, drinking hot chocolate and singing along proudly (and terribly) to the Christmas songs on the radio. There was “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and “Jingle Bell Rock” and dad’s killer improvisational dance moves. Together we baked four batches of Nana’s cookies—huge, delicious cookies—and still they appeared small beside the other things we made together that day: memories.
So much of our lives unfold in kitchens. We fight over who burned the lasagna and then discuss the daily news at the dinner table. We privately kiss our lovers in the middle of a party, stealing a quiet moment together at the stove. We bake cookies beside our fathers and learn the secrets to perfect pancakes beside our mothers. We burn our tongues on treats fresh out of the oven beside our siblings and then point our fingers at each other and say, “But you said they’d be okay!” This is true always, but it’s true especially during the holidays when we’re cooking and baking with the intention to share. You know, cooking and baking things like cookies.
So in the spirit of the holidays, I asked several Edible contributors and friends to share their favorite cookie recipes, traditions, and memories. And now, here they are. We’ll be sharing one recipe a day, so check back daily to see them all. We hope you enjoy them—and that you’ll share your recipes, traditions, and memories with us, too.
In the meantime, just remember: the secret to baking is to measure everything perfectly—except how many times you lick the spoon.
5. Walnut Cups
What’s your favorite holiday cookie recipe? Share your recipes—and memories—with us and we’ll pass them on. We hope you have the happiest holidays.
Illustrations by Layla Ehsan.