Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas cookies - more than just sugar and spice

Perhaps more than Santa, turkey dinner, knitted stockings, and softly glowing LED lights, nothing sets the holiday cheer afire in me like Christmas cookies.

They sit so snugly in your hand, sending off whiffs of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, or peppermint. Just one bite can transport you heavenward like Handel's Messiah. I'm not sure what happens at the molecular level but I'm sure the combination of sugar, spices, flour, and butter can alter the circuitry in your brain and simultaneously sizzle all its pleasure centres. You can't eat a Christmas cookie and not feel good will towards men. It's just that potent.

The history of cookies dates back to Medieval Europe. With sugar once selling for the equivalent of $100 per pound, and other essential ingredients such as flour considered expensive, cookies were rare treats and baked to mark significant Western celebrations. By 1500, cookies have spread all through Europe, with each country developing its own signature version of these crispy small cakes.

The Germans, for example, offer us their famous buttery Spritz cookies and Lebkuchen or gingerbread cookies. The Swedes are into spicy delights, which is what you would experience when biting into Pepparkakor. If you have a hyper-developed sense of smell, you might prefer the Norwegian Krumkake, which is a thin lemon and cardamon-scented wafer. But it was the Dutch, whose word Koeptje was the ancestor of our word "cookie," who brought the earliest Christmas cookies to the new world in the early 1600's. You gotta love them!

Here in Steveston, we have creative individuals who make it their business to bake fresh cookies to delight your senses. I have asked them to submit their most festive creations and greetings to help you embrace the most gastronomically-centred season of the year. Feast your eyes on these beauties and get inspired to bake your own batch. Here's happy nibbling to you!

Photos courtesy of Heidi Thorsteinson
Heidi wishes to extend to you and your families the best of happiness, health, peace,and prosperity during the holidays and throughout 2010. Thank you for your continued support.

Photos courtesy of Lisa Ellis
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Lisa at A Cake WIsh! Thank you for all your business!

Photos courtesy of Mika Livingston
The Steveston Cookie Company
Andrew and Mika Livingston of the Steveston Cookie Company wish everyone a deliciously wonderful holiday season! Thanks for a great 2009!

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