Since I’ve been home in the U.S., everything feels shiny and new. Everything tastes amazing. The cold fresh air feels brilliant on my cheeks. I catch myself constantly thinking how good, and friendly and reasonable everyone I encounter is. I am literally seeing everything through rose-colored glasses.
Particularly being home now, with snow on the ground and Christmas music as a soundtrack, all seems right with the world.
My little sisters even got a snow day.
Wearing sweaters and embracing the winter weather, Frank and I have been having ourselves a traditional hometown holiday. I made the most traditional cookies in my family’s holiday arsenal. These chocolate-mint ribbon cookies have, as long as I can remember, held a place in my mom’s well-worn holiday baking binder.
Hot out of the oven, these cookies filled my mom’s (delightfully photogenic) kitchen with the unmistakable warmth of Christmas.
The combination of warm cookies, presents under the tree, and a fire in the fireplace filled me with so much unadulterated holiday cheer that I couldn’t imagine anything better.
And then, coming out of church on Sunday, Santa Claus drove by in a pickup and waved.
I’m on my way to Boston for the night and headed down to Norfolk tomorrow to spend Christmas with Frank’s family. I just passed two hours at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina where people were sitting on the floor and the line for Starbucks was 25 deep. No one grumbled, and everywhere I turned people were offering their place in line to others who were in more of a rush. Rose-colored glasses, I tell ya.
Here’s hoping I can keep them on well into the New Year.
- 2¾ cups unsifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 squares (1-oz size) unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1¾ cups unsifted all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 8 drops green food color
- ½ cup finely chopped red candied cherries
- Note: Make the dough 1 day ahead of when you plan to slice and bake the cookies.
- On waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In double boiler, over hot, not boiling, water, melt chocolate, remove from heat. (Or melt chocolate in microwave-safe bowl at High 3 to 4 minutes, stirring twice.)
- In large bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate until smooth. With wooden spoon, stir in dry ingredients and nuts; mix well. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill ½ hour while making mint dough.
- On waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, in large bowl, with electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, egg, mint extract and food color until smooth and fluffy. With wooden spoon, stir in the dry ingredients, add cherries, mix well.
- Divide chocolate dough in half. Shape each into a ball, flatten. Place each half between two sheets of waxed paper. On lightly dampened surface, roll each half into an 8-inch square. Roll mint dough between paper into an 8-inch square, making corners perfect.
- Place one chocolate square on cookie sheet; peel off paper on top. Peel top paper off mint square; flip mint square onto chocolate square; peel off paper; press lightly. Layer other chocolate square over mint square. Be sure all sides are even. Cover with foil; refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove foil; cut square into 3 strips. (Refrigerate 2 strips until ready to cut.) Cut each strip crosswise into ¼ inch slices.
- Bake on greased cookie sheets 10 minutes, or until set. Cool on rack; store in container.