What are little Christmas cookies made of? Sugar, spice and everything nice … but not chocolate chips

Today’s rant … to be or not to be a Christmas cookie. That is the question.

This is a chocolate chip cookie. More specifically, it’s Mrs. Levy’s Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie. Looks delicious in all it’s white-flour-light-brown-sugar-buttery goodness, doesn’t it? Mix, drop and bake — couldn’t be easier. As a “giant,” it has 653 calories (for you folks who don’t count calories, that’s mammoth). Still, I’d make these cookies and enjoy them very much, and I’m quite sure other people would enjoy them very much, too.

But it is not a Christmas cookie.

Christmas cookies are special, once-a-year ordeals. They use special ingredients — like crushed candy canes or chocolate extract or dried cranberries or apricot jam. Or they come in special shapes — like spritz cookies or gingerbread men. Or they require complicated assembly, like sandwich cookies or red-hot-nosed reindeer cookies or those tedious twisted candy canes made of vanilla and red-colored sugar cookie dough. Or they have special toppings like powdered sugar or frosting or crushed nuts.

Chocolate chip cookies are for every day — they’re not for Christmas!

Oh, you can certainly enjoy chocolate chip cookies during the holiday season but they are an everyday sort of cookie that just happens to share the same last name as the Christmas Cookie family.

Making chocolate chip cookies in December does not make them Christmas cookies!

Mrs. Levy’s Giants won first place in the Chicago Tribune’s 2010 Holiday Cookie Contest. A chocolate chip cookie with nothing special about it other than its giant proportions won the Christmas cookie contest. Sigh. What is wrong with you, Chicago Tribune food editors?

The editors of my favorite newspaper food section in the Minneapolis Star Tribune awarded first place honors in its eighth annual holiday cookie contest to something called Pistachio-Orange Cookies, a sandwich cookie with (surprise!) pistachios and orange zest. These are not ingredients one uses in cookies in May or August. The assembly requires sandwiching the spread between two cookies and rolling the edges in crushed pistachios — complicated, time-consuming. Read: Distinctive. They are special, once-a-year indulgences.

They are not chocolate chip cookies!

The Chicago Tribune’s questionable cookie judgment extended throughout its contest this year. Every single featured cookie in the Chicago contest included chocolate. I have nothing against chocolate. In fact, I love chocolate. The Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti might even qualify as a Christmas cookie because it requires baking twice. But not one fruity, nutty, uniquely spiced confection met the holiday cookie standards of the Chicago team? Really?

Among the finalists in Minneapolis were Strawberry Margarita Gems and Nancy’s Anise-Pecan Cookies (note to Chicago: not all Christmas cookies have chocolate). Still need chocolate? How about this Minneapolis finalist that features my favorite flavor, peanut butter: Hot & Sassy Peanut Butter Buds are fancy looking morsels with cayenne pepper. Yes, pepper! And the requisite chocolate? Chile-infused dark chocolate. And white chocolate — for decoration.

Because Christmas cookies are special, see?

6 responses to “What are little Christmas cookies made of? Sugar, spice and everything nice … but not chocolate chips

  1. Funny post! And so true! No one makes chocolate chip cookies for CHRISTMAS in my family. There is no shortage of chocolate–however–it’s melted, drizzled, molded or used as a coating for some salty treat.

  2. While I quite agree with you, Minnesota Transplant, on the judgement of the Chicago Tribune, I must say I disagree that a chocolate chip cookie cannot be called a Christmas Cookie. In my book, if you bake it, wrap it and give it to me to consume [alone or share with family 🙂 ] …it is a Christmas Cookie indeed and one greatly enjoyed! I won’t even ask you if it was slice and bake…I’ll just say thanks so much and smile while I enjoy each bite I did not have to bake. However, to your point about the qualification for blue ribbon status ~ Amen…I want to see decadent ingredients and imaginative ideas for a Christmas Cookie Contest ~ so can you share the link to that Pistachio-Orange Cookie recipe? *grin*

  3. All I know is that it won’t be a very good Christmas if I don’t get some of those russian teacakes…..Hint,,,,Hint

  4. I am with you, Tyler, those are my favorites! You really do not need to chew them, just allow them to melt in your mouth. Minnesota Transplant, did you get together with your mom and sister to bake this year?

    • minnesotatransplant

      I’m not baking this year, Aunt Jean, just complaining about the recipes. We were in Minnesota for Thanksgiving, but the only things we were baking were turkeys and Who-hash! (I am considering, however, ONE batch of Mexican wedding cakes.)

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