The Tomato

Gold Medal Plates Christmas Cookies

We asked the 2013 Gold Medal Plates contenders to take a moment and think about Christmas cookies.

Each chef had a memory of anticipation, happiness, and love all wrapped up in a little cookie. Many make the same cookies they grew up with — shortbread, butter cookies, spice cookies. Even peanut butter and chocolate chip have meaning at the holidays.

Alex Sneazewell, the Gold Medal Plates contender from the Manor Café, likes a butter cinnamon cookie his wife makes. “I’m not the baker, she’s got more love in the baking. My wife’s entire family bakes. They make a bunch of different squares; they do the one where you jam Reeses peanut butter cups into cookies; they make brittle. We always have so much — dozens of squares and cookies in the freezer.”

We asked Hilton Dinner, who owns the popular Bon Ton Bakery, what makes a good cookie?

“It’s memories of holidays past,” he says. “For example, our pecan snowball: people say ‘oh that is just like the ones my mum used to make.’

“People come here for the tradition, cookies are one of the things that makes Christmas for people.

“We start at the end of October, and make about 4,000 dozen every year — all butter, home-style recipes. Each cookie is made and cut by hand. Pecan snowballs are popular, as are thimbles. We sell a ton of them.

“Cookies bring a sweetness to the season.”

All recipes use all-purpose flour unless otherwise indicated.

Three chefs, Jan, Doreen, and Serge sent or dictated their recipes by weight rather than measure. Usually we work out the conversion to The Tomato house style, but this time decided to leave them in their original state. This stays true to the chefs’ intention, and we find that most bakers are accustomed to weighing ingredients.

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