Archive for December 17th, 2008

One of my favorite parts about the holidays is the baking. For both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m responsible for making the desserts, which consist of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, (sometimes) apple pie, and egg custard pie (my favorite). I’ll also occasionally venture into the cookie arena, and join my mom in making two Christmas staples: shortbread (naturally), and lace cookies.

Last year around this time, I thought I’d bring a little Christmas cheer to my then-roommate, and make my mom’s lace cookies. Being ever so health conscious at that point, I thought that perhaps I could substitute a cup of Splenda for the cup of sugar listed in the recipe. I attribute that poor decision to my eventual failure. From the looks of them, the “cookies” were just stubbornly refusing to cook at all. I had blobs of warm oatmeal-y dough. Dammit.

All in all, my kitchen karma last year was not stellar. I had another mishap while making monkey bread, post the lace cookie debacle. Part of the recipe involves cutting up biscuit dough, coating it, and layering it in a bundt pan. I went step by step, filling the pan to the top – forgetting the simple fact that when the biscuits baked, they would expand, and I had left them nowhere to go but up and out. Smiling to myself, and thinking how tasty this monkey bread would be, I sat down on the couch to watch TV while it baked. After a bit, I started to hear a slight *pop* sound. Then the popping became more frequent. And then, something didn’t smell quite right. I strolled back into the kitchen, still fairly oblivious, until I saw that there was a small fire in my oven!

Honestly, I don’t even remember putting the fire out – it might have just felt bad for me and put itself out. I do, however, remember seeing little bits of dough all over the bottom (and sides) of the oven, and the smell of burnt sugar filling the air. And, at that point, I wondered when and how my baking skills had deteriorated so thoroughly that I couldn’t even remember to account for expansion.

This year, I’ve been taking the baking slowly. I’ve had success on a few occasions with the Best Ever Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, and decided that I would risk the lace cookies again. After all, they’re a holiday tradition. (Not the monkey bread, though. Not yet.) And this time…success!! I used real sugar and real butter and have come to the conclusion that holiday treats just don’t have to be healthy.

In any case, I doubt you’d have as difficult a time with them as I did, and these cookies are delicious and well worth it – and a great addition to any dessert spread:

Lace Cookies

1 cup quick oats

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. flour, plus 1 tsp.

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup butter (melted)

1 tsp. vanilla (give or take – I love vanilla, so I’m pretty liberal with it)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients together. Beat egg well and add to dry mixture. Pour in melted butter and blend. Add vanilla. Drop 1/4 tsp. of batter on pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for approximately 6 minutes. (Note: bake until slightly brown around the edges. My oven took closer to 10 minutes.) After baking, leave cookies on foil until cool.

This picture doesn't nearly do them justice. (And, why yes, that's my advent calendar and sort-of creche in the background. And you can bet that if I could have a tree, I would.)

This picture doesn't nearly do them justice. (Why yes, that's my advent calendar and sort-of creche in the background. And you can bet that if I could have a tree, I would. And you'd be seeing a picture.)

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