Working my way through my own stash of Christmas cookies this year -- bite-size cinnamon pecan shortbread, peppermint puffs, roll-out cookies with royal icing and a cashew-chocolate creation I haven't gotten to yet -- I started pondering whether there are Southern Christmas cookies.
So many choices of Christmas cookies reflect heritage. If your grandmother was Scandinavian or Greek or Mexican, your got-to-have Christmas cookie probably is too. And in the usual Southern way of thinking of things, if you are Southern, any cookie you make (or your mother made, or your grandmother made) is, by extension, Southern.
But are there Christmas cookies that really only show up in the South? I think of my grandmother's tea cake recipe as being thoroughly Southern, and yet I never make it at Christmas. It's too simple, too stripped-down, to hold its own on a platter with chocolate this and peppermint that.
There are certainly Southern cakes and Southern pies. But the only Southern cookie I could think of is the pecan tassie, which is really just a miniature version of a pecan pie. I'll put a recipe for that one below, just in case you need one more batch of something to bake on what promises to be a great holiday-baking weekend.
While you're baking, think it over and send me your nomination for a truly Southern Christmas cookie.
From Cooking Light
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons skim milk
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar and dash of salt in a small bowl. Combine cream cheese, butter, and milk in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until blended (mixture will be crumbly). Press flour mixture into a ball.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 3 to 4 times. Divide dough into 24 portions. Place 1 dough portion into each of 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Press dough into bottom and up sides of cups, using lightly floured fingers.
Divide pecans evenly among dough-lined muffin cups. Combine brown sugar and remaining ingredients; spoon about 2 teaspoons over pecans in each muffin cup.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned and filling is puffy. Cool in cups for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around outside edge of each tassie; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.