The Book Cook Cookies, Cheese Cookies and Cheese: Never Settle for Santa Ellen Clifford

Cottage Cheese Cookie Cheese Plate

You knew we wouldn’t make it through the year without me having an excuse for cookies, right?

In honor of the coming holiday, I thought I’d examine the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, aka “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore. I know we don’t all celebrate Christmas, but regardless of religion, can we all get behind celebrating Santa? Who doesn’t want to celebrate an old soot-covered, pipe-smoking dude who breaks into our homes, takes our cookies and leaves behind toys made by in sweatshops employing little people? And surely PETA is thrilled about St. Nick’s driving reindeer into the air and onto dangerous icy rooftops.

In all seriousness, the original Saint Nicholas sounds okay. He supposedly saved three sisters from slavery by throwing bags of gold down their chimney for them. A supporter of women who personally delivers – not bad.

Pretty much all my preconceptions of “The Night Before Christmas” based on childhood memories were incorrect. For one, I always thought of it as a British children’s book, but it was a poem published in the paper by a New York City professor. I thought surely it was a Brit who penned it. I mean, St. Nick says “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Who does that in the United States besides people trying to sound hip/ironic/original/cool? Fo rizzle. As for being children’s lit, the language is quite complex to be read by tots for their bedtime stories. And even that wily Dr. Seuss doesn’t bring up “breasts” in his books, even if they belong to the “new fallen snow”.

It occurs to me that parents in this poem are awfully chill. They are so hipster they even sleep in their hats. Well, in their kerchief and cap, but you know what I mean. They don’t just sleep, they settle their brains, yo. And they don’t even care if that party-animal St. Nick wants to smoke in their home.

I thought along with stockings being “hung by the chimney with care” that the poem mentioned cookies under the tree. Again, I was wrong. The closest thing to sweets you get from the poem are the sugar plums the kids are only dreaming of. Well, those and Santa’s enormous belly shaking like jelly. Gross.

I decided to put away from the cookie plan and began to reformulate.

Does anyone else remember that cheese commercial with the little girl bringing her parents down to see the bounty that Santa left her? The dad is impressed and says, “Those must have been some cookies!” and the girl says, “I didn’t leave him cookies, I left him cheeeeeezzzzzzzeeeee.” Viewable here:

So I thought maybe a cheese recipe was in order, but then I found a cookie recipe involving cottage cheese. Bingo. I was suspicious of this recipe, seeing as it comes from a vintage cookbook. Modern tastes are different and I worried that the cheese would lend a weird texture. I whipped the heck out that cheese and it did not! These cookies are not too sugary. In fact, they are like a delightful shortbread that is less sweet than usual. Almost cracker like. Which got me thinking-why not eat them WITH cheese! Yes oh yes. Cheese is a traditional dessert course, after all. A nice tray with cheese and shortbread is unbelievably perfect. I recommend a salty cheddar-this is a cracker-cookie (crackie?!) that needs a bold cheese to stand up to it’s mild-mannered ways. In further homage to St. Nick feel free to add a dab of jelly in the mix.

Now go settle your brains, and expect some wicked awesome bootie from the big booty we call Santa.

Cottage Cheese Cookies Cheese Plate adapted from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book

For cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

To finish:

  • cheese
  • jelly

Beat the butter and cheese until well whipped up. REALLY beat the heck out of this, guys. Sift some flour, measure your 1 1/2 cups, then re-sift it with the sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mix to the butter mixture gradually. Turn out the dough and shape into a thin log. Chill until very firm-the original recipe says overnight but I popped it into the freezer for an hour or so and it baked up just fine. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease a cookie sheet. Slice the log pretty thin-somewhere between an eighth and a quarter of an inch is good. Bake them, checking on them around 8 minutes, and letting them bake until they are golden and the edges are just barely starting to brown. Deeeeeelicous.

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