Christmas cookies: these two words bring to mind family gatherings with food to spare, visits from friends bearing gifts and good cheer and carolers sharing their voices and plates of freshly frosted cookies. Synonymous with traditional holiday gatherings, the smell of baked goods often permeates homes in the month of December. Cookies hold the place of the most popular treat in the country by general consensus, with variations in taste that everyone can enjoy decorating, eating, and sharing (or not).
With gingerbread men and their houses covering cookie plates and years of popular culture, gingerbread cookies hold the place of most recognizable Christmas dessert. Decorating this dessert exists as a common tradition among children and adults alike, with it occasionally resulting in competitions between peers as they create homes for their gingerbread men. The influence of gingerbread affects more than family gatherings; a gingerbread man plays a part in the popular movie Shrek as well as a children’s story. Asheville, North Carolina’s Omni Grove Park Inn also holds a national gingerbread contest each year, with last year’s entries featuring elaborate designs of gingerbread homes, villages, people, and even a gingerbread polar bear.
While a cookie that doubles as a building material may not seem the most appetizing, gingerbread possesses the most unique and debatedly delicious flavor among common Christmas foods. These cookies warm hearts and stomachs with their sweet yet gingery taste, enhanced by the various frostings, candies and sprinkles used in their creation.
Not limited to the Christmas season, sugar cookies remain the most popular and versatile cookies found throughout the whole year. Their mild, sugary taste caters to the masses and the option of frosting and sprinkles and different cookie shapes increases their aesthetic appeal.
Much like gingerbread cookies, decorating sugar cookies became a common Christmas tradition among friends and family. Whether purchased or made from scratch, they quickly disappear. Once frosted, each cookie becomes an edible work of art created featuring the decorator’s skills. This versatility allows the treat to adapt to any holiday or occasion.
A minty fresh take on the traditional sugar cookie, peppermint cookies deserve their own category. A flavor closely associated with wintertime— perhaps because of its scientifically proven ability to fool your tongue into feeling cold— peppermint perfectly complements the sugary sweet tastes present in an unfrosted sugar cookie. The flavor and iconic red-and-white coloring associated with peppermint saturates the holidays and sweets commonly eaten around the time, so it seems natural to add it to a cookie. Peppermint flavoring and crushed candies combined with a warm butter cookie base offer a pleasant combination between the coziness of a fire and the coldness of the weather. Add chocolate chips or cocoa powder to the mix for an extra boost of flavor, evoking hot chocolate with a peppermint candy cane stirrer.
No matter which variety of cookies someone chooses to indulge in, each type offers the same appeal: a taste of home during the holidays. Whether at home or abroad, surrounded by family or all alone, every person can benefit from this comforting effect of the season’s best dessert.