Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ICED GINGERBREAD COOKIE STICKS (Edible #Coffee Stirrers) from ONCE UPON A GRIND by Cleo Coyle



Here's a slightly more sophisticated take on the classic gingerbread cookie, letting you serve with style and dunk and crunch with joy. 

It's a fun idea for dessert trays, holiday parties, or that cozy evening by your roaring fireplace DVD (and, yes, we have one). I have a little decorating tip for your holiday tables, too, but first the recipe...


Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.


Cleo Coyle's
Gingerbread Cookie Sticks

(Edible Coffee, Tea, or Cocoa Stirrers)

My readers will recognize this cookie 
from Once Upon a Grind, my brand new Coffeehouse Mystery.

During the book's Fairy Tale
Festival in Central Park, where the first crime scene occurs, 
my amateur sleuth uses this recipe to create "beanstalk" cookie sticks for her landmark shop's coffee truck. 

Clare's merry band of baristas give the vehicle a Jack-in-the-Beanstalk makeover for the children's festival, so the cookies seem appropriate. Unfortunately for Clare, her coffee hunter ex-husband Matt brings his own "magic beans"coffee beans sourced from a legendary and very real area of Africa. And boy will they bring Giant trouble. 

These cookies, on the other hand, are designed to bring joy. Drizzle them with melted white chocolate or make your own vanilla glaze (recipe included). A final sprinkling of coarse finishing sugar will create a treat as pretty as a winter snowfall. May you bake them with love and eat with holiday joy!

~ Cleo




Click here for free
recipe PDF.






To download this recipe in a free PDF document with additional step-by-step photos, click here. Print, save, or share it.





Makes about 4-5 dozen cookie sticks, depending on size

For cookies:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (or 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves)
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature*
2⁄3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup molasses (unsulphured, not blackstrap)
1⁄3 whole milk (or brewed coffee)*

To finish:

Vanilla Glaze (see recipe below) and
Coarse finishing sugar (about 1/4 cup)

*Note: To make this recipe dairy free replace butter with non-dairy margarine and the whole milk with coffee or almond milk.

Step 1— Assemble the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice (or cloves). Set aside.




Step 2—Make the dough. Using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter and dark brown sugar; add the molasses and milk (or coffee) and blend again. While continuing to beat at a low speed, slowly add in your dry ingredients, blending to make a smooth dough. Do not overbeat, but be sure all of the flour mixture is incorporated. 


Troubleshooting note: The dough should be sticky and in the next step you will chill it to harden up the butter, but you may need to adjust the dough slightly, depending on your climate, brand of flour, and vagaries in measurements. All this to say: If your dough seems particularly wet, beat in a bit more flour. Just don't overdo it because too much flour will toughen up your cookie.



Step 3—Wrap and chill. Form the sticky dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap the two disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; overnight is fine, too. (If you’re in a hurry, place the dough discs in the freezer for 20 minutes instead.) The chilling will harden up the butter and make the dough easier to work with for the next step.

Step 4—Roll the dough. First, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chilled dough disks from the fridge and (if too hard) allow to warm just enough to become pliable. Place the dough between two sheets of lightly flour-dusted parchment paper. (This is a great method for rolling cookies because you will only need the lightest dusting of flour, which will keep the cookies from toughening up.) Roll your dough thin, about the thickness of a pie crust (around 1/8 inch). 





Troubleshooting: The biggest issue you may have in rolling this dough will be the dough’s stickiness. This will depend on your climate and the weather. If the dough becomes too warm as you roll it and it sticks too much to the parchment paper, simply slip the whole thing onto a pan and place the pan in the fridge for 15 minutes or freezer for 10. Once the rolled-out dough is chilled, it will firm up and easily separate from the paper.

Step 5—Cut the cookies. Remove the top layer of parchment paper. Use a pizza cutter to clean up the edges of your rectangle and slice into sticks. Do not move the sticks off the bottom parchment layer. Simply slip the entire sheet of parchment onto a cookie sheet.





Step 6—Bake. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. When the cookies are finished baking, you will need to recut them and you must do this while the cookies are still warm. Gently slide the entire sheet of parchment paper onto a cutting board or a sturdy counter surface and use your original slicing lines as a guide. The pizza cutter will make quick work of it, roll from the top down, as you see in my photo below, so you can easily follow your lines. 


Step 7COOL: You must allow the cookie sticks to cool completely before handling. If you try to move them while they are warm, they are very likely to crack and break (ask me how I know).



Step 8—Drizzle with glaze. Once cool, you can make the glaze (recipe below) or melt white chocolate and drizzle it on the sticks. Finish with a sprinkling of coarse sugar. 






Cleo's Vanilla Glaze

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon milk or cream (or almond milk)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for a whiter glaze, use clear vanilla)

Directions: In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add milk and whisk in the powdered sugar, a little at a time. When all the sugar is melted into the butter and milk, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. TOO THICK? whisk in a bit more milk. TOO THIN? Add a bit more powdered sugar and continue to cook it down until it’s thick enough. TEST: Before drizzling on your cookie sticks, use a fork and drizzle a bit on a plate. If you’re having trouble drizzling it nicely, then it’s too thick. On the other hand, if the glaze doesn’t harden fairly quickly after cooling, then it’s too thin. Finally, if the glaze hardens in the pan or becomes crusty, whisk it over heat and add a bit more milk, and you will be able to return it to drizzling consistency again, and...




Click here to download
this recipe in a
free PDF document.




Eat with holiday joy!


~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here


Sign up for my Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)
 

Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover!


Join coffeehouse manager
Clare Cosi as she solves the crime
against "Sleeping Beauty," opens
secret doors (uptown and down),
and investigates a cold case that's
been unsolved since the Cold War.

"Fresh and fun...clever" ~ Booklist
"Charming, vivid, memorable" ~ RT Book Reviews
"Wicked good" ~ Library Journal


Wonderful recipes are also featured in Cleo's 14th 
culinary mystery, Once Upon a Grind, including...

* Black Forest Brownies 
* Cappuccino Blondies 
* Shrimp Kiev (new photo!)


Shrimp Kiev from the recipe section
of Once Upon a Grind

* Dr Pepper Glazed Chicken
* Silver Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies
* "Fryer Tuck's" Ale-Battered Onion Rings
* Poor Man's Caviar 
* Caramel-Dipped Meltaways (new photo!)


Caramel-Dipped Meltaways from
the recipe section of Once Upon a Grind

...and many more recipes, including
a guide to reading coffee grinds...


See the book's
Recipe Guide (free PDF)

* * * 



Cleo also writes
The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries 


Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries, by clicking here.
Or learn more here. 



* * * 

Quickie Decorating Tip



A little reminder of a common way you can make your tables appear more festive and romantic during the holiday season. (Do you do this, too?) Find pretty glassware, making sure it's thick, sturdy glass. Fill or partially fill the containers with water and float tea candles in them. 

We use plain and scented tea candles: apple-cinnamon, berry, and French vanilla are all beautiful aromas for the holidays. Marc and I always have fun searching thrift stores for retro glassware of all shapes and sizes.

May your own holidays be bright! 

~ Cleo





Win Books and More!

If you are a subscriber to our Coffeehouse Mystery
newsletter, then you may have entered our
holiday giveaway by answering the
special question that we asked in our newsletter...

What is one of your most
treasured holiday memories?

The randomly drawn
winner of the
comment contest was...

Jessie S.
of Rio Rancho,
New Mexico

Congratulations,
Jessie!


Thanks to everyone for participating
in our holiday memories contest.
Don't miss our next contest,
coming up soon.
If you would like to subscribe to our
n
ewsletter, click here

~ Cleo



94 comments:

  1. Not a creature was stirring, but with these we will be!

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  2. What beautiful photos and what a delightful cookie to serve with coffee or tea. Yum! Cleo, love it! And a fun candle tip. Perfect. I do "do" that. So festive. Happy holidays to you, too!

    Daryl / Avery

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  3. What a nice recipe and easy. The pictures are inviting as always. Makes you want to walk right into your computer.

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  4. These looks so yummy and festive! I love the candle tip, too. Going to try both!

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  5. Beautiful stirrers Cleo! And your table looks gorgeous. I think I might need some time in vintage stores to jazz up my decorations:) Happy holidays! xo

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  6. Such a great celebration of the season here, Cleo, with your gorgeous decorations and photos. I love the stirrers! Something different and very delicious.

    Thank you!

    XO

    MJ/Victoria

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  7. like to decorate the tree together

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  8. My nephew's first Christmas.... he was just starting to walk. It was a magical day for all of us.
    dotkel50 at comcast dot net

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  9. The year my brother and his family came up from Florida for Christmas. It was a full house with 15 of us. After dinner and presents, we sat around the kitchen table and played a game of high-low-Jack.

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  10. Buying the biggest Christmas with my family.

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  11. 1964 at my folks home in northern MN. Grandparents came by train from PA, brother and family flew in from TX, my family drove up from southern MN. Only time we were all together - beautiful memories.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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  12. Seeing two women cry when their mother who has not responded to anything in years smile at the sight of Santa.

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  13. I was only 19 when I got married and we had no money (living on love for real!). Our first Christmas we had agreed that we wouldn't exchange presents because we simply couldn't afford it. My husband took my wedding bouquet (which was a lace fan with flowers on it) and secretly took it out and had the dead flowers replaced with a silk version of what I carried. He wrapped that and had it under the tree as a surprise on Christmas morning. I just found it so touching that he did something he knew would be so meaningful to me. It probably cost less than $10, but it is still one of my most special gifts I ever received because of the thought put into it.

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  14. My favorite memory is the year my father urged my mother to go to Christmas morning church services alone because "the girls are so busy playing with their toys". As soon as she left (not too happy!), my dad hurried next door and came back with a floor console stereo (it was the sixties!) that he had bought her as a Christmas surprise. When she came home and heard Christmas music playing, she cried. It was a beautiful moment I'll always remember.

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  15. Making Christmas cookies with my Aunt when I was a kid. Later when I had my own children, my Aunt continuing the tradition. Lots of fun, great memories and lots of colored sugar and sprinkles all over. Sadly, she passed away this year but my kids and I will always treasure that memory.
    scarletbegonia5858@gmail.com

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  16. My treasured Christmas memories will always be growing up on the farm and having my Grandfather and Aunt join us on Christmas Eve to open gifts and then the next day to have a big Christmas dinner. dbahn@iw.net

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  17. Going to my Grandmother's house Christmas Eve, all the cousins, aunt and uncles crowded in this small house! wonderful memories..

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  18. My first Christmas as a mother is one I especially treasure. Our son was nine-months old and interested in everything. We lived close enough to my parents that we could be together on Christmas day. It was wonderful.

    Thanks for the great recipe. (mochfly...)

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  19. This looks so yummy! My most treasured memories are just being with all of my family at my grandma's house. It was about the only time we saw everyone together during the year. christy41970 at gmail dot com Merry Christmas :)

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  20. I think I can actually do this! One of my most treasured memories of Christmas is the year all the kids, grandkids and great grandkids got together at my grand parents house for Christmas Eve dinner and we made over 300 Gyoza's!

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  21. Thanks so much- those look delicious! (although I will probably make them with a dark chocolate drizzle, as I love pairing chocolate and spicy gingerbread)

    One of my most treasured holiday memories is the year I was put in charge of passing out gifts. In my family, everybody gets a gift and then opens them in order, so we can draw out the gift-giving, admire the item, etc. It was such a huge responsibility for me, that it really made me feel special. Plus, I got to wear the santa hat denoting that I was in charge of the gift distribution. For a little girl obsessed with fairness, and costumes, it was a special moment.

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  22. These look so festive. I'm sure they taste as good as they look.
    Favorite childhood memory was when I got my Tiny Tears Doll. I've always been more the baby doll type person. Not so much Barbie unless my friends were playing with them. But this doll was special - so lifelike. I loved the stuffing out of her. A few years ago my daughter gave me a commemorative doll. It was smaller but it had everything the original came with - suitcase, diaper, bottle, etc. Now that one is in a glass case. 2nd best Christmas.

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  23. Christmas 1968 my sister and I snuck into the living room to see what Santa left for us overnight. We asked for bicycles so were quite let down when we didn't see them by the tree. I looked on the porch and carport before we gave up and went back to bed with downtrodden hearts. Instead of jumping up and rushing Mom and Dad to open presents, Sis and I slept late. Mom had to wake us up and told us breakfast was getting cold. After trudging to the kitchen, what did we find next to the table? Yep two new shiny bikes! Later, as a parent myself, I realized my "Santa" didn't have room to put the bikes together in the living room, so the kitchen it was...

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  24. One of my most treasured holiday memories was the first Christmas after my husband and I were married. We left everyone behind and spent Christmas through New Year's in Boston, just the two of us. It was fantastic!

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  25. I remember the Christmas Dad wrapped a flour sifter for me. Then another Christmas he gave us all fresh-baked Philadelphia pretzels - hard as rocks by the time we got them! Do you think Dad had a theme? I know he loved my holiday cookies and I'll always smile as those memories come out with the sifter.

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  26. My best memory is when we told my parents that they would be grandparents the next Christmas. That was 1989

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  27. My best Christmas memory is from when I was twelve years old. My parents were older than most, having raised three children and then, 14 years later, having me, and were, in their words, "tired of Christmas", so we didn't usually do much. But that year, they decided we would take a day trip up into the mountains surrounding Tucson. We walked in the fir trees (such a nice change from cactus) and enjoyed the cool mountain air. It actually felt like Christmas. It was a great shared experience I will always remember. partial email: lweight@siuslaw.lib

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  28. Love your books and recipes! My best Christmas memory was 18 years ago when my husband proposed.

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  29. My favorite Christmas was last year when I had all my kids, my husband and my grandson here to celebrate...particularly since I had just finished radiation treatments on the 24th

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  30. We almost always had a white Christmas but that year it was green, raining and forecasted to continue raining through Christmas Day. I took my younger siblings to church Christmas Eve. It was just miserable out. I will never forget the feeling I had when we came out of church an hour and a half later because we emerged into a winter wonderland. It had been snowing heavily for at least an hour. The beauty of it took my breath away.

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  31. My favorite holiday memory has to be the Christmas trip to NYC that my husband planned....
    afarage(at)earthlink.net

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  32. My favorite memory of Christmas was from 1955 when I was six and my dad was 27. Dad wanted to surprise me with a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve. He could only get the suit jacket and hat so had to come to the living room window. I begged him to come in but of course, he had to say he didn't have time. I also begged him to wait until my daddy came home but he had to get going since there were so many other children he had to visit. I was thrilled and sorry my baby brother was sleeping. This is my best memory because it was my last Christmas with Dad. He was killed the following September.

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  33. Spending quality time with my family and thankful they're still here.

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  34. My favorite Christmas memories are being with my family. Lots of love, laughter and food! I am the only remaining member of my family and so happy to have the wonderful memories to re-live.

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  35. Happy holidays! you lead me to remember the Christmas Eve when I left beef bones simmering for stock-- too hot. I am awakened by the stench of scorching fat and gristle and pot. It was easy enough to quench the singeing, but the smoke and scent remained. So I opened windows for the house to clear, put on boots and coats and went for a 2 a.m. walk in the small town I lived in. While I had slept, that broad-flaked, shiny sort of snow had fallen, and it was still falling gently, glinting under the street lights. It was very cold, but very romantic, walking through the lamplit and silent streets.

    I've tried early Christmas morning walks since then, but somehow it hasn't been as magic. Maybe I need to scorch some more beef bones....

    amaebi@mail2world.com

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  36. I am hoping like crazy that my leg will feel good enough to allow me to make these gingerbread cookie stirrers. Our family loves bread sticks and they also love gingerbread anything so how can I miss with these. Thank you so much for the recipe and the idea especially. <3 Cynthia

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  37. I don't cook anymore (hubby does). But I still love recipes, and one of these days I'm really going to do some baking. Don't know if I'd actually 'stir' my tea (or coffee) with these, but I sure would eat them!
    donna {dot} durnell {at} sbcglobal {dot} net

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    Replies
    1. Think one of my most treasured holiday memory is the year, our granddaughter was just one. We took her to my parents' in New Mexico for Christmas that year. Mama had taken 'a page out of my book' and put the tree in a play pen. We could all see and enjoy it, but granddaughter couldn't play with it.
      That same granddaughter is now 23 and has just had her first baby; he'll be 2 months old the day after Christmas. We will be going to my daughter's home for Christmas with the new one.

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  38. MY favorite Christmas memories are with my grandmother. We would spend the entire month of December baking cookies to give our family and friends. And on Christmas Eve I would help her cook the meal and in recent years she would help me as she could no longer make it herself. I lost my grandmother a few months ago so this will be my first Christmas without her, but I know I'll always have those memories.

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  39. My favorite memory is spending Christmas at home when I was a child, and my Aunt Sylvia would come to dinner and play games with us after.

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  40. Love this recipe!!! Thanks. My favorite Christmas tradition is decorating the family tree with old ornaments - that we had acquired over the years. Each has a special meaning to someone in our family. Valerie Ford

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  41. The recipe looks great, Cleo! One of many favorite memories was when dh & I finally finished building our log home and hosted our first Christmas for our family and friends in the new house, in 1990. Even though it was freezing cold with an ice storm outside and we temporarily lost power for a few hours, our houseguests were warm and cozy and the house was full of laughter and good food. We continued the tradition started in the late 1980's with giving gag gifts and everyone was full of good cheer! (Well, the bourbon balls helped!) A fun time was had by all.

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  42. My most treasured memory is from the the time they were born, I would take the girls to pick out an ornament for the tree. Afterward we would go to the "Tea House" and have finger sandwiches and tea. When they left home they had the ornaments for their first tree.

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  43. Treasured memories...Christmas morning with toddlers

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  44. Making homemade candy cane sugar cookies with my mom. tenntrio15 at aim dot com

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  45. My fondest memories are Christmas cookie baking with my mother. We didn't really have the means to purchase gifts, so we baked. We baked a lot! One year in particular, we'd made snowman cutout cookies, topped with coconut and chocolate eyes...we made up plates and took them to a nursing home. I remember how thankful everyone was to have visitors and a kid bearing cookies. Needless to say, baking is the tradition, but this was the most memorable result!
    jstone29@rocketmail.com

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  46. I was about 11, on our first Christmas in California after our parents divorced in Ohio. Our first Christmas tree - aluminum. Judy D

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  47. I realized that I forgot to mention my favorite holiday memory. I had a wonderful childhood, so both my two younger sisters and I have great memories of our youth, but I know that one memory of all three of us sisters was that of cooking and baking with our Mom. Our maternal grandmother was one of the first women in the early 1900's to attend and graduate from a culinary/baking school. From our grandmother and her recipes, my Mom was inspired and she also loved to cook and bake and was one of the best cooks in our family if not the neighborhood as well. She taught all of us to do the same and we all have the love of food, and sometimes that is good and sometimes not, as weight problems are involved here especially for me who loves the bake and sample everything (five times over from the looks of things. :)) So every holiday was started out with making fruitcakes a month in advance as they needed to "ripen" as Mom called it. She was not a woman who drank alcohol but she definitely loved the fruitcakes basted with either rum or brandy, especially apricot brandy. To this day, we all love fruitcake, but I mean the kind that is hardly any cake, and mostly fruit and nuts just held together with a light batter but so moist and with whole red cherries bursting with rum or brandy flavor. Then we started on cookies of all kinds and every few days we made a different kind. Spritz were made in various flavors such as almond, orange, lemon and vanilla, and also our chocolate spritz which were one of my favorites. My mother would bake about 100 dozen cookies and we would go door to door to our neighbors and deliver two dozen or more to each of them and we loved doing that. I have a lot more memories of the kitchen and baking and cooking with my Mom but these were one of the most memorable ones for Christmas, other than each daughter helping to stir the various batches of fudge that she made too. It sure was a hands on mother and daughter event each year and we all loved it and I have carried on these same traditions with my daughter and now with my grandchildren as well. They love to be in the kitchen with Grammy and I am thrilled to have them there too. Makes for a very Merry Christmas.

    Cynthia B

    ceblain(AT)tmlponline(DOT)net

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  48. Baking cookies with Mom. We've been doing it for 53 years and I appreciate it more each year.

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  49. One of my favorite memories is the year my husband proposed to me on Christmas. It was such a special day for me.

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  50. My favorite holiday memory is sitting in the tiny kitchen with my grandfather watching him finish cooking the turkey and preparing the gravy and mashed potatoes. In between we would play double solitaire...he cheated! He always cooked the meals and my grandmother did the baking. I miss those simpler times. Kuzlin at aol.com

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  51. The Christmas where we told my motherinlaw she would be a grandma...hubby cut a tiny snowflake and wrote the announcement on it, then wrapped it in a jewelry box for her ;) her face was pure joy

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    Replies
    1. Made these cookies by the way...yummy! Also featuring the mocha cake for Christmas dessert :)

      Delete
  52. Making the family recipe for fudge with my mother. It seemed like a lot of work at the time but now it's all just memories, mom is gone and I no longer make fudge, what's left is the very very special memories.

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  53. My family always teased me about the Christmas I pointed to a wrapped gift and said, "Mommy made me promise not to tell you she got you slippers." I was 5 ...

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  54. When we we young, we never saw our tree until Christmas morning. My mother did it all after we were in bed on Christmas Eve. She was Wonder Woman. Such a lot of work.

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  55. One year I anonymously did the 12 days of Christmas for my mother. Every day I would either travel to her home or have one of my siblings drop off the gift in her mailbox or on her porch. Each day had a gift that had the same number of items that corresponded with that day - Example: Day 6 would have had 6 of the same items and she so looked forward to it. On the 12th day (Christmas Eve) she sat and watched and waited for her last gift. I handed her 12 different batches of cookies and it took her quite a bit to figure it out - that I was her "secret" gifter. I'm so happy that I did that, because it was not many Christmases later that she was no longer with us. She talked it about it every year and loved it and each year when I'm baking Christmas cookies, I remember her face when she'd tell me about those special gifts and how it made her day each of those 12 Days of Christmas.

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  56. My favorite memories from childhood at Chrtsimas time was "helping" my Grandma and Mom bake Banket and Jan Hagel cookies. They are both traditional Dutch treats serviced during g the holidays and for special occasions. David and I were taught by the best and we both have carried that tradition down to our children.

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  57. My fav Christmas "memory" is a collage of the years when the 4 kids were growing up--tracking Santa via dial-up (arrgghh!)on Norad, staying up for 2 days prior, cleaning, baking, and last minute shopping..topped off with watching Christmas Mass from Rome while wrapping Santa presents and filling stockings at 3 a.m. dozing for a couple of hours, being hauled out of bed by squeals of "Santa's been here! Wake up" Love those days and can't wait to see what's next

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  58. Good thing a person can't gain weight simply from looking at food. These recipes always look too good. :)

    Happy Holidays to everyone! I kind miss the days when the children in the family were little. We used to go driving around looking at all the Christmas lights around town. Now they are 'too old' for that! lol

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  59. miladyroni@yahoo.comDecember 24, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    One of my favorite memories is the Christmas of 1971. My husband asked me to marry him! That wad 42 years ago!

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  60. This year is pretty memorable for me and my family (my mom and older brother)! We are celebrating Christmas and we haven't in so long! npyles86 at gmail dot com

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  61. My favorite memory is my first Christmas as a new wife and mother. Our daughter was born in November and I carefully measured and sewed a beautiful little red elf outfit for our beautiful baby girl and we took some very memorable pictures of her propped up under the Christmas tree. Such a wonderful gift then and now.

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  62. My favorite Christmas memory is Christmas of 1985. My then husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for two years. I thought that I had the flu, but I wasn't getting any better. I finally decided to take a pregnancy test, even though I was sure it would be negative. Lo and behold...it was positive! Two weeks later we found out that we were expecting twins! Best Christmas present ever! ccpierce518

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  63. Skyping on Christmas morning . . . as my granddaughters open their presents hundreds of miles away . . . happy, but bittersweet . . . wishing I was with them. eezzzy at aol.com

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  64. my greatest memories are the gathering of all my children and grandchildren every Christmas to bake cookies for our friends and neighbors. We have been doing this for 25 years and my oldest grandsons still look forward to our "cookie days" jchizmar01@windstream.net

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  65. My most treasured Christmas is of the last Christmas family gathering that we still had mama with us. We did a retro type Christmas with all the things from earlier Christmases. It was wonderful and sad knowing it was the last Christmas wed spend with her. Even had a silver artificial tree with a color wheel. Had a great time opening presents and a delicious Christmas dinner. Watched John Wayne movies that were her favorites.
    Tennisace50(@)yahoo(dot)com

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  66. One of my favorite memories is the year I was given a child's Christmas wish list from Social Services. I anonymously fulfilled the child's request for a bicycle (I was lucky enough to find one on clearance so I could afford it). I sent it and a helmet to the child's address, labeling it for them from Santa. I've always imagined how fun it must have been for the child to get a wish fulfilled by Santa. bydancer@comcast.net

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  67. One of my favorite memories was Christmas, 2013 when my husband and I traveled along with our oldest daughter and son in law, to Spokane, WA to spend Christmas with our younger daughter and son in law who is stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base. This was the first Christmas we had spent as a family in several years. We opened presents, had a big meal, made cut out sugar cookies, watched movies and played games. What a wonderful holiday experience. dbahn@iw.net

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  68. One holiday tradition now is making and decorating sugar cookies with my grandkids. Grandson at 15 didn't want to help this year. So just me and granddaughters. I miss making divinity and sending to my Mom. It was a yearly tradition. jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

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  69. I was six years old and spending Christmas Eve at my grandparents. Suddenly this adorable black & white puppy came bounding into the room wearing a red bow. After we played for a few minutes, Dad told me that Jingles was one of my Christmas presents. I don't ever remember being happier. Auntie found her abandoned on a neighbor lot. Jingles is in doggy heaven now, but she is not forgotten.

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  70. When I was a kid my grandmother worked at Saks in NYC. They used to have a Christmas party for the employees kids and we used to go into The city to attend every year.

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  71. I enjoy creating new sweets. A few years back, I took a batch of cookies to our family’s Christmas gathering. All my younger cousins were devouring the cookies. When their Dad came over and asked about them, the kids — while still eating the cookies — told him they were “Terrible!” He took them at their obviously misleading word and refused to try them. The cookies were gone before the kids would leave their guard at the plate; I took this as a great compliment. foundation_eagle@

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  72. So many memories come to mind. When my daughter was small, we took her with us when we shopped for her presents. We watched how she reacted to the items we thought she would like and asked questions such as, “Do you think your Uncle (who graduated from Rice University — the Owls) would like this stuffed owl?” that she picked out. When she said yes, we bought it for her uncle and she was surprised to receive it for Christmas. On other occasions, when she picked something out, one of us would take her on out to the car and the other would purchase the gifts and have them in paper bags so they couldn’t be seen. After so many years of letting her pick out her presents, she would figure that some of the things on these trips would be her presents. At that time, we started the Christmas List Tradition, getting most of her presents from the list while remembering things she had liked throughout the year for her surprise. My favorite memory is of the year my adult daughter and I had been shopping much earlier in the year. She asked me questions on art materials such as, “What would you get for oil pastel artwork?” When I opened my gift from her, it was my recommendation and she had written “Gotchya” on the card.
    catherine_1of3lanes@

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  73. In 1982 we stayed at my brother-in-law’s house in Houston, Texas for the Christmas holidays. My computer engineer brother-in-law had gotten his family a Texas Instruments Home Computer complete with video games. Everyone enjoyed taking turns playing Munch Man and TI Invaders. His kids tried to take back the control from my daughter when she lost almost immediately. He told his three kids that my daughter got 2 turns each time because she was the youngest at 2 years old. This rule was held even when she got better than the others on Christmas Day, because she was still the youngest. Larry held the high score in Munch Man when he had to return to work after Christmas. I spent the day playing Munch Man when everyone else was not at home. When he got home, he found out I had beaten the high score. publishingby3lane@

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  74. Oops, you have this email: laynegray54@

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  75. Riding in a "sleigh" (a beautiful mustang convertible) in a Christmas parade as Mrs. Claus with my adorable real-bearded Santa, a truly loving, giving man. I lost him this year and the Christmas season has been difficult, but the wonderful memories have helped. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. mrsclausme@gmail.com

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  76. The very first Christmas as a married couple my husband woke me up with "Ho, ho, ho little girl what do you want for Christmas" I opened my eyes and saw him in a full Santa suit. Me not being a morning person said "please let you be Tom and not some deranged psycho" 28 years later we still laugh about it.

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    1. Forgot the email
      momzillasteel@gmail.com

      I told you that I wasn't a morning person, LOL.

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  77. My mom was the baker and candy maker. Not so for me, that trait went to my brother. My absolute favorite memory is when my mom made her refrigerator sugar cookie dough one evening so she could roll out, cut, and bake the cookies for wreaths. They were rolled very thin and baked just until they started to brown. After they were cool, she would decorate with green and red icing. Before she got home from work, my brothers got home from school and ate the dough before they could become cookies. She wasn't very happy with them. ckuper@cox

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  78. Having Christmas, Hanukkah and all three children's birthdays at the same time of year can be a challenge. So, one year we changed our gift giving routine - each child received a gift on his/her birthday. The grandparents gave on their appropriate holiday. For Hanukkah we took turns - the parents took the first night, each child had a night to give not get. Then we picked charities. For the remaining nights, each child picked a charity. We then decided an amount - the child contributed an amount from their allowances, mom and dad added. We then went shopping for that charity. Some years we picked the same charities, some years all different ones. It might be the food bank, the toy drive or even a medical charity. The discussions each year were thought provoking and heartfelt. I remember them fondly now that the children are off on their own.

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  79. One of my favortie memories is going to my grandmas, seeing my stocking hung up and knowing I would get an orange, an apple, and some loose change she had saved for me. Seems silly, but I still remember looking in that stocking every year

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  80. My favorite Christmas memories are the ones I'm making now. Every Christmas Eve, the kids, their mates and kids, gather here for dinner. It's wild and chaotic and someone pops into the kitchen every few minutes to ask, "Can't we open presents NOW?" We pop Christmas crackers in the British tradition as we eat, and then we exchange presents with those who won't be here in the morning. On Christmas morning, there's more happy chaos when the rest of us gather to open the rest of the presents and have breakfast. It just doesn't get better than this, and I'm thankful.

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  81. Merry Christmas! My favourite memories are the ones my family are creating now. Our daughter is sixteen and I know these years as a family in one house are precious and fleeting. Every year on Christmas Eve we open pyjamas and watch Christmas movies and play games together.

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  82. Treasured holiday memories include our beautiful white tree with blue lights, my grandfather decorating a really tall Christmas tree growing in our driveway (each year got a little more difficult as it grew!), baking kifli cookies with my Mom, and of course putting out cookies and milk for Santa. My Mom always took me for Santa pics and now I take my fur-kids. :) Chelle (DogMomMystery (at) aol (dot) (com).

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  83. My favorite holiday memory is the annual wassail at my church when I was young and the look on the older ladies faces when I asked for the recipe! I was all of 12 years old but I knew that one day I may not be able to attend and I would miss that lovely time. At least I would be able to make the wassail wherever I was and remember those wonderful times! I have it to to this very day (MANY years later)!

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    1. Forgot to add my email finn.matt.kim@gmail.com

      Delete
  84. My grandmother would spend all of December baking such wonderful cookies and treats, while my grandfather would start on the Christmas garden. The dining room would be closed off and we would not be allowed to see what he was doing until we came there on Christmas morning. It was always breathtaking to my wondering eyes.

    harbingerdc(at)gmail(dot)com

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  85. One of my most memorable Christmas memories was the year my husband & I got to fly home with our 2 young sons from Germany to spend the holiday with our families. My brother & sister-in-law picked us up from the airport & drove us to my parents house. When we got there, he asked my dad to help him get my sister-in-law out of the car because her foot was in a cast. The look on my father's face when he realized that we were in the backseat of the car was priceless. He was stammering, hands going every which way, yelling for my mother, & looking at each of us over & over again not knowing what to do! One of my best memories ever! buttercode(at)aol(dot)com

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  86. Cleo here, dropping in to let you all know that Marc and I have been enjoying reading about your treasured holiday memories. Some are funny, some heartwarming, some quite moving. It's made our own holiday a little more special. And I hope it's done the same for you. There's still a bit more time before the drawing; just dropping in now to say again, thank you so much for sharing!

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  87. My favorite memory is of our family being together after Christmas dinner, gathered together playing games and getting to enjoy each other, as most of us see each other only once or twice a year! idonailz@gmail.com.

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  88. New Chriatmas Eve jammies.Leaving cookies, milk & a carrot for Santa.

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  89. Thanks again to everyone for sharing your holiday memories. They touched me and Marc, and I’m sure they touched many other people who read them.

    Now that the winner is confirmed and her prizes are sent off, I am happy to announce the randomly drawn winner was Jessie S. of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Congratulation, Jessie! I hope you enjoy ONCE UPON A GRIND and your other prizes.

    For everyone else, thanks again, and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to you don't miss updates on my books, recipes, and new contests.

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter
    www.CleoCoyleRecipes.com

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