Holiday Cookies

I have always had the best of intentions of baking lots and lots of cookies during the holidays. I love seeing posts of some of most spectacular cookies online and in some of the foodie groups I belong to.

With each passing year, however, this hasn't been my reality. Instead, I bookmark recipes for future reference and then read through them hoping that I'll make at least one spectacular cookie creation. That hasn't happened either. This year, I've gone so far as to make giant granola chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches for a tv segment on New Day Cleveland. And these were made at 3:00 a.m. on the day of the segment. 

If you've read a few of my blog posts, you'll know that my sister Susan is the baker in the family. Susan bakes all kinds of things, but cookies is where she really shines. Every year, for the past 12 years, she's hosted a cookie exchange.  This year will be a little different as it will be a driveway drop-off event. She nevertheless baked quite a few wonderful cookies, including lemon macadamia nut, double chocolate, vanilla biscotti and almond shortbread.

Susan and I used to make gingerbread houses and gingerbread people each holiday. We had fun, laughed a lot and were inspired by the breathtaking gingerbread creations on the McCalls magazine covers, which we sadly couldn't recreate. Our kitchens resembled something out of I Love Lucy with flour and icing everywhere! Such good memories.

My friend Liza is a cookie baker who's made some extraordinary cookies for me personally as well as for my colleagues at hospice. She is a skilled, patient artist who also happens to make delicious cookies. For the past few years she's made themed cookies for the annual staff holiday party at the hospice where I worked. Each cookie is a work of art and the staff anxiously awaited the party each year to see the cookie "reveal". Pretty awesome.

Liza has also made a cookie sleigh filled with cookies which was used after Christmas Eve Mass at hospice for patients, families, guests and staff.

The cookie sleigh was almost too beautiful to eat.

Everyone simply wanted to marvel at the detail. Love Liza and her cookies.

One of the most wonderful gifts this season has been the gingersnaps that Susan has made for our friend Helen, who just turned 101. Gingersnaps are Helens favorite cookie; they were also the beloved cookie of our grandmother Lizzie.

Here's the recipe for Gingersnaps:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 cup Grandma’s Molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp ground ginger
Mix butter, sugar, egg and molasses. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use small scoop to make balls the size of walnuts. Dip tops in sugar. Place cookies on parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle 2 drops of water on top of cookie to make a crackled surface. Bake 10 minutes for soft cookies. Makes about 4 dozen. 

I may not have time to create a spectacular cookie this year. Fortunately, I have a stash of cookie dough in my freezer that I can use to make cookies for Santa, if I don't fall asleep early on Christmas Eve.

Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food company. Pat's Granola is sold online at and is also available at several Northeast Ohio businesses including:

Troubadour Coffee Roasters

Sports and Spine Physical Therapy

Local Flavors Shoppe

Rittman Orchards and Farm Market

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Locle Box

Good Foods Brands

Market Wagon Northeast Ohio

Made Cleveland


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