You'll find a Cookie Table at nearly every Pittsburgh wedding--a proflitude of shapes, flavors, and textures. Relatives and friends compete to bring the best cookie. Wise old women hide carry-out containers in their handbags so they can take cookies home. My niece's wedding album has more photos of the Cookie Table than of the cake (the lower-case "c" for the cake is intentional).
Pittsburgh Christmases often involve a smaller (but no less elaborate and varied) version of the Cookie Table. Every year, my sisters and I return to Route 19 on December 25, bearing as many cookies as our roll-aboards can stow.
This year, I'll share my Cookie Table on this blog, as I bake.
The earliest batches must freeze well and store compactly, so I always start with bars and sturdies.
That's what Marilla kept in the pantry at Green Gables, too. For Anne's memorable tea-party, Marilla allowed her to "cut some fruit-cake and have some of the cookies and snaps."
So yesterday I set dried fruit to steep in brandy for fruit-cake bars. And I made a double batch of
I have two dear friends named Judy. One writes on this blog; the other copied this recipe out for me from her vintage Milwaukee Settlement Cookbook. The original recipe doesn't use allspice or nutmeg, and it calls for shortening. I use butter, so my cookies spread flatter and carry a subtle caramel smoothness alongside the "snap."
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup dark molasses
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 generous pinch allspice
- 1 tiny pinch nutmeg
- Extra sugar for dipping
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the dry ingredients and stir in. Chill. Form walnut-sized balls and roll them in the extra sugar. Bake 2" apart on greased, light-colored sheets at 350 for 10-12 minutes. (Dark sheets bake cookies faster.) Remove after cookies collapse and start to wrinkle, but before they brown on the bottom. Cool on sheet for 2 minutes before removing to rack. Store airtight in freezer, or in tins. Makes about 5 dozen.
LIFE'S LESSONS LEARNED: When chilling dough, I use snap-top containers, and bag the containers in plastic. Fussy, perhaps. But tuna-garlic infused cookies don't "go" in my fambly.