This season, I am having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. I don’t know why, but I can’t even listen to Christmas carols yet. We are starting to decorate (a little) and the “Elf on the Shelf” has returned to our home, I have completed 60% of my shopping, but it just doesn’t feel like Christmas yet. I don’t know what I am missing.
Then it hit me. Cookies. There is something about baking Christmas cookies that tends to put me in the Christmas spirit. For years, my great-aunt Ida would gather her family around to bake Christmas cookies. As I got older, it was hard to make it to cookie-day, but I was able to attend one not long before she passed away. There were all kinds of traditional cookies baked on this day…thumb print cookies, sugar cookies, wreath cookies and almond cookies. But the two that stand out in my mind are rum balls and Pizzelle cookies.
The rum balls stand out to me because not only were they fun to make, and rolled in sugar, but my aunts would actually “sample” the rum and the rum balls while making them. I can still remember my aunt laughing and having a great time while we were rolling the balls. As a child I thought they were disgusting, but now I see why they made them and the merriment that ensued. The memory is fantastic.
Pizzelle cookies are Italian and find their way into many Italian households at Christmas time. These are waffle-like cookies, flavored with vanilla or anise. My Aunt Ida had her own Pizzelle iron (you can purchase these irons on amazon.com) and brought it to the location of the cookie-day. (She pronounced them Pitz-elli’s) She made them every year. The whole family looked forward to getting their hands on some of these cookies. They were very tasty and something that was only made at Christmas time.
So, I have decided that cookies are what I am missing. I will be baking a little early this year to get myself into the spirit. I can’t wait to teach this tradition to my sons and share them with my friends and family.
I may make some Rum Balls too…for myself of course.
Pizzelle Cookie Recipe
Makes 30 cookies
- 3 eggs
- 1 3/4 cupflour
- 1/2 tsp anise seed or extract (optional see substitution ideas below)
- 1/2 cup UNSALTED butter (1/4 lb.)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Beat eggs and sugar.
- Add melted butter (cooled a little bit) and vanilla and anise.
- Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture.
- Drop the stiff batter by spoon.
(Dust cookies with a bit of powered sugar after cooling, if you would like)