One time when it is particularly nice to live within walking distance of a working farm is when you run out of eggs midway through a Christmas-cookie baking marathon. Mrs. L. just keeps the eggs on the porch, no need to knock dear, just drop your cash in the box and take however many you need…
My mother and grandmother, and who knows, probably even many of my great grandmothers before them, were avid Christmas cookie bakers. My mother and grandmother always made candy cane cookies, Russian tea cakes, gingerbread men, press cookies, goodie bars, and some Polish cookie whose name I can’t remember made with nuts and a honey syrup.
Of course, nearly everyone else’s mother and grandmother made lots of Christmas cookies too back when I was a young girl, and one of my favorite things about Christmas was exchanging plates of homemade treats with friends and neighbors and seeing what other kids’ moms made for Christmas. Our neighbors from the time we moved to Caledonia when I was 13 were the Prices, and Mrs. Price introduced us to a new Christmas cookie, Church Windows, which are made with colored mini marshmallows that are supposed to resemble church stained glass windows. I made these for the first time last year, but my family didn’t much like them.
A few years ago, one of my co-workers gave me a plate of cookies that included a heavenly little cookie she called “buckeyes” because they look like the nuts dropped from the Buckeye tree. I’d never heard of them or tried them, but it turns out they are not uncommon at Christmas. I tried making them the next year, and my family loved them, so they’ve become a staple at our house at the holidays. Here is my recipe to make the ones you see below beside the mini pumpkin-cranberry loaves, but if you don’t like mine, there are lots of other versions of this same recipe available online:
Sunshine’s Christmas Buckeyes
- 3 c crunchy peanut butter (I use the natural kind without hydrogenated oils but any kind will work)
- 2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 t vanilla
- 12 c powdered sugar
- 8 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. In a very large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and peanut butter. Beat in the vanilla, then the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
2. Roll into one-inch balls and place on waxed paper to chill. This recipe makes a LOT of cookies, so what I do is use a plastic storage bin and layer the cookie balls in it between layers of waxed paper, snap the lid on tight, then put it in our unheated garage to chill overnight. If you cut this recipe in half, you could probably just layer the cookies on waxed paper on a cookie sheet and put them in the refrigerator. But trust me, you’re going to want the full recipe.
3. When chilled, melt 2-4 cups of the chocolate chips in a class bowl on medium power in 45 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. You’ll melt more as you need it.
4. Stick a toothpick into each chilled cookie ball and dip into melted chocolate, coating the bottom and sides. Place on waxed paper on cookie sheets to cool. When the chocolate has hardened, layer the buckeyes between sheets of waxed paper in a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
While you are busy in the kitchen, have a listen to one of my favorite versions of “What Child is This?”