Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chewy, ginger cookie bars

Dear Santa,

This letter will probably get lost among the hundreds of thousands that have started filling your Inbox in recent days. With my luck, it will probably end up in your Spam folder.

It is probably safer to do things the old-fashioned way: address it to Saint Nicholas (I know, I know, only your mom and few million German children call you that these days but I think it suits you) and stuff it into a boot on December 5th the way I did when I was a child, before computers became the norm. I mean, let’s face it Nick, countless generations of children did this successfully for decades before me and their letters never got lost.

First of all, before I forget, I don’t mind if you put a few tangerines and walnuts in my kids’ boots together with the candy this year. I know I used to complain about it when I was a child, but now that I am a mother, I totally get your point.

Yes, don’t you worry, I promise I will remind my children that putting out Daddy’s snow boots instead of their rain boots will not increase the amount of candy they get. It is good to know that you and I are on the same wave length about these things.

I will also refrain from telling them our best kept secret, that you are a sweet old man with a good heart and that you would never really leave a branch in their boot instead of candy if they haven’t behaved sometimes. I will however admit that it is a very helpful threat in the weeks preceding December 6th and I intend to take full advantage of it. Whoever started that rumor was most definitely a Mom.

Oh, another thing. My little girl will be writing her first Christmas letter this year. If you have any problem deciphering what she wrote, please let me know. I will be happy to help.

I am doing my best to keep up with all the traditions of this season and to make you feel at home when you come with your sleigh full of gifts. We will be decorating a tree on the week end, advent calendars are sitting on the kitchen counter, Christmas music is playing on loop on our Ipod sound system. I bought two really pretty Christmas tablecloths yesterday (ok, I know you didn’t ask for them specifically but they were soooo cute!) and my daughter picked out the new Christmas decoration that we buy every year as per tradition for the tree. We will be setting up our tiny hand carved wooden Crib under the tree and reading A Christmas Carol before bedtime. My daughter may even read a few sentences this year. Next week we will be in Germany to visit family, the Christmas markets and to celebrate the third Sunday of Advent. And yes, I have already pulled out our Christmas cookie cutters and made the first Yuletide-inspired recipe just for you, so you have something to nibble on when you stop by next week to pick up the letters.

Last but not least, I promised my kids I would tell you we will be in the mountains for Christmas, just in case you forget and come here instead. You should be able to find a snow covered roof to land on with the reindeers pretty easily but I forgot to ask if they had a chimney when I rented the apartment. If worse comes to worse I will open the balcony door for you.
I am so looking forward to your visit. I send you a big hug (are grown ups still allowed to hug you?).
What is that? My list?
I don’t have any real Christmas wishes: while I was writing you about reading books with my kids, baking cookies, decorating the tree with my loved ones, I realized I have everything I want and need right here in my home.
But if you really can’t help yourself because you are Santa and it is in your genes, I can always use a book, an accessory, some bling, something food-related…well, you decide.

See you next week!


1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar (next time I will use a little less)
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
(1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger)
Pre-heat oven to 175°C and line a 9x9 inch pan. Cream butter and sugar together and then add the egg and vanilla. Then mix in the dry ingredients until combined and if you decide to add crystallized ginger (I was unfortunately out of it), mix it in last.
Press the batter into the pan and try to make an even layer, which will not be as easy as it sounds because it will be quite dense and sticky. Bake on middle rack for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from the pan and slicing into square bars or cutting out with cookie cutters. I think my baking powder was a little old so the batter didn’t rise as much as I expected, but that inspired me to use the cookie cutters so I am not at all disappointed. The original recipe included whole wheat flour and wheat germ, but I had neither so I substituted with all purpose flour and oatmeal for texture.


  1. Those cookies look amazing and the letter to Santa is great!

    I grow up with Santa Lucia instead of Santa. I wonder how I will keep the tradition alive if I will have kids here in the US....

  2. This post was so sweet. I felt as if I was six again. I had the same Christmas traditions you are keeping up for your children. We used to leave a glass of wine for Santa as well. I think my mum still keeps our letters, somewhere.

  3. I get so excited about Christmas that it's a little ridiculous. I think what I'm most excited about this year is going back to Sydney- and the fact that my niece- at four- is really wrapping her head around what Santa means. I can't wait (nb- gorgeous cookies).

  4. I loved your post, it was so cute. My kids are all grown and I am waiting for grandkids so Santa will come to my house once again.

  5. This definitely helped me start to get into the spirit of the season. (Though it's hard right now, being unseasonably warm here in NY and all.)

    I hope you get everything you ask for, and more.

  6. Those are all lovely traditions and I'm sure your kids love this season. The cookies look really tasty and very tempting. Sounds like an exciting, cozy trip to Germany is in store for you. Time for me to get excited about my trip to Massachusetts where I get to also celebrate a birthday with my family, along with Hannukah and Christmas. What a confusion of celebrations!
    Happy Everything, I guess :)

  7. Your cookies look absolutely gorgeous - I much prefer them a little chewy than too crispy so your recipe looks perfect.
    I also get ridiculously excited about Christmas - can't wait to get home, spend time with my family and eat all the gorgeous festive food available.

  8. Pola - thanks you. In what area of Italy is Santa Lucia celebrated? I know December 13th is a big deal in Sweden, but not in Italy...you live and learn.
    La CR - I think Santa appreciates your mom's warming glass of wine much more than the milk and cookies most American kids leave out for him!!
    Tori - so nice that oyu get to go home for the holidays. Seeing Xmas through a child's eyes is an incredible experience and what makes you really want to go overboard preparing.
    Words of deliciousness - Hi and welcome. I am sure Santa will be visiting soon again. I wish you many wonderful grandchildren, so you can enjoy the pleasures of parenthood without the fatigue.
    Meister - thank you! I heard people have even worn sandals around NY these days...or perhaps just my crazy friends...
    Nicole - our home is a mix of different Christian traditions, from Catholic to Protestant, and Jewish influences. So I totally get it. Holidays with family in Massachusetts...sounds great! So Season's Greetings to you!
    TheLL - I am a chewy fan too. Can't wait to hear about your family traditions!

  9. These look so timely for Xmas! Great recipe.

  10. Hehe I really do think that Santa must be on email nowadays! These look delicious and I love how you cut them out after it was baked-so clever! :D

  11. I love your letter to Saint Nicholas. It was beautiful and heartfelt too.

    And the cookies look amazing, I have a Christmas cookie exchange in the coming weeks and I think these just might be my 2011 Christmas cookies.

    Thanks for the great recipe and the Christmas inspiration.

  12. ToB - thanks and glad to have inspired you. It felt a little early but now I realize that as a blogger I probably should be giving people ideas BEFOREHAND...
    Lorraine - that was a consequence of my batter not rising as much as I expected. And it was way to soft and sticky to do so before baking. it was definitely a batter and not dough.
    Elizabeth - hi and welcome!I'm glad you enjoyed the letter, it was fun to write. I left a comment on your blog, pretty much along the lines of what I wrote Lorraine: the batter didn't rise that much because my baking powder was probably old so once it was baked I thought it was cuter to cut them out. However, according to the recipe I followed these should turn out to be more like bars than cookies. Just to warn you.

  13. This is so sweet! We're going to have a snowy weekend starting tomorrow, and now I want to be sure I can bake Christmas cookies with my 3 girls. We cook gluten fre in our house, so I hope I can adapt this recipe with GF flour with good results.

    I'll remember the heartfelt words in your letter and those beyond-cute pictures. Glad I found this post tonight.


  14. This might be the recipe that helps me christen my Ninja-Bread-Men.


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