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Sweet & Sophisticated Holiday Cookies

An elegant collection of shimmering, sparkling cookies awaits to brighten the darkest of nights.

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As a Canadian of Indian descent, Thanksgiving has never been my symbolic start to the holiday season—that title belongs to Diwali.

Falling between mid-October and mid-November, as based on the Hindu lunisolar calendar, it is legendarily the darkest night of the year. And as such we annually banish those shadows in a number of ways. We light diyas (clay oil lamps with cotton wicks dipped in ghee or vegetable oils) and wear sequins that catch the flicker of their flames, sending it across the room in rainbows. We polish any silver and brass to mirror-like reflection. We swag innumerable rows of white lights from the eaves and in the trees until the house is a sparkling beacon to welcome Lakshmi and Ganesha.

But even after the colorful rangoli designs have long faded, those lights remain throughout December. Those rows of white lights linger to illuminate the tree and stockings hung for Christmas, and the flicker of diyas makes way for the flicker of Hanukkah candles—one celebration twinkling into the next.

This year, with hope for the return to these glimmering traditions, I am compelled to embrace the optimistic exuberance of bedecking each possible moment, in all ways. I want my days properly festooned from the mantel to the windows to the table to the cookie boxes packed and ready for friends and family near and far.

It is time to get out the sprinkles, the dragées, every last ounce of glimmer and extra embellishment. This year’s cookies are going to be appropriately dressed up for the party.

I’m not talking about anything too difficult, but rather the baking equivalent of putting on red lipstick for the evening. That means attiring Mexican wedding cookies in a coat of white chocolate and pristine, fluffy coconut for a playful snowball effect. Perhaps even a dusting of silver edible glitter for extra sparkle. Or taking a simple spiced cutout cookie—think speculaas with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, boosted by espresso—and doubling up the goodness by making it a sandwich. Between the two sides, a swirl of coffee buttercream reinforces the espresso note. And on top, a glittering cluster of candied cocoa nibs lends crunch with the laquered sheen of sugar.

In a nod to the country of my birth, there will be my in-laws’ version of a national treasure, the Butter Tart. Imagine a miniaturized pecan pie with a tender-but-flaky crust and a rich filling made with walnuts, raisins, even chocolate—left completely plain if you’re a purist. I do love them as they are with their delicate honeycomb at the surface of the filling. However, this winter, in a move that suits a more festive mood, a dry brushing of pearl or luster dust will grant a gently gilded effect.

Finally, no cookie tin can be without chocolate if I am in charge. So last but most assuredly far from least, once-familiar cookie kisses return from a trip through the Black Forest, hiding a dried cherry beneath its mound of chocolate-enrobed marshmallow. A flurry of luster dust completes them with ease and elegance. Or you could opt for a bit of silver leaf pressed into that chocolate—a gleaming nod to the brightest days of the season ahead.

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  • bschmink | 12/11/2021

    would love to see a video of this....

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