Can you believe it’s time for Christmas again?  I have to tell you, this year I intend to get in the spirit!  The holidays are a time for planning delicious food to share with the people you love.  I have so many wonderful memories of being in the kitchen with my mother, baking for the holidays. We would make several different types of cookies, including Czechoslovakian kringle and homemade caramels.  Together, she and I would prepare large batches of cookies and caramels and pack them into holiday tins so that a festive tray could be shared at a moments notice.

My mother began Christmas preparations during the entire fall season, beginning with the creation of homemade jams to fill jewel cookies and freezing berries for filling homemade strudel or kringle.  Kringle is a traditional pastry that originated in Czechoslovakia; sweet yeast dough baked with a berry, poppy seed, or almond filling inside.

When December arrives the holiday season officially begins, a time for decking our halls with wreaths and garland, creating that special warmth and sparkle in every corner of our homes.  It’s not to late to prepare your favorite sweet or savory cookies, nuts and candies.  Pack them in colorful holiday tin and bless your family, friends, and neighbors this Christmas season.

Image courtesy of Mary Stodola.


1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

2 cups pecans, chopped fine

1 cup raspberry jam, seedless

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes till creamy.  Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla and salt.  Add the flour and beat just until completely combined.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

In a bowl beat the egg whites with a fork till light and foamy.  In another bowl add the chopped pecans.   Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the balls into the egg white and then into the pecans, rolling them around to coat.  Place on parchment covered baking sheet.  Bake for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully make an indention in the center of each cookie.  Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and add 1/2 teaspoon of jam to the center of the cookies.  Cool. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Spicy Cheese Wafers

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 pound Gruyere Cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups all-purpose

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Cream the butter and cheese together for 2-3 minutes.  Sift the cayenne pepper, salt and flour and gradually incorporate with the butter mixture.  Add the pecans and mix well.  Divide the dough in half and shape into a log that is 1 1/2 inch diameter.

Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a sharp knife slice the logs into 1/4 inch slices; place the wafers an inch apart and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly colored.  Cool and store in an airtight container.

Happy Baking!

Chef Mary

Miss Marley doing her baking. Image courtesy of Karen Shayne.