For most of my childhood and beyond, one Friday or Saturday in December has been set aside for Christmas cookie baking.  Sometimes Nana and Papa would drive down and join us, but it was always Mama and my younger siblings, baking from mid-morning until mid-afternoon.  We always make far more than necessary, far more than anyone will eat.  Dad and I prefer the gingerbreads, my brother cares for only the M&Ms cookies (the only candy the boy eats is M&Ms), my sister’s favorite is called Snowy Mountain Tops, and Mama just likes dessert in general.

Snowy Mountain Tops, while the least popular to eat due to their richness, are the most fun to make:  chocolate dough, mixed from scratch is refrigerated.  Spoonfuls are then rolled quickly into a ball and flattened into an even disc.  A Hershey kiss is nestled into the center and the edges of the dough are gathered around, encasing the kiss, creating a mountain peak.  After baking and cooling, the tips of the mountains are dipped on confectioner’s sugar, creating “snowy” mountain tops.  One year, while baking in the oven, all the Snowy Mountain Tops shifted on the baking sheet into two rigid mountain ranges, leading from one corner of the baking sheet to the other.  It was both bizarre and awesome.

I think my love for the tedious baking-from-scratch was ignited and nurtured through this tradition of Christmas cookie baking.  Even if you throw out most of the cookies in the end, try baking them from scratch this year.  You may find it quite fulfilling.

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