‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of this year’s participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!
About Jasmine Guillory
Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks. The Wedding Date is her first novel.
Cookies, Cookies, and More Cookies
There are so many things I think of when I think about the holidays, almost all of them good: family, wrapping presents, crowded mall parking lots, hot buttered rum, Midnight Mass, Christmas music, eggnog in my coffee instead of milk, trying to remember where I tucked away that perfect present I bought in September, a tree with brightly colored lights and lots of beloved ornaments, warmth inside with a chill in the air outside (just a little chill, mind you, I’ve spent the holidays in California my entire life), hot mulled wine, and curling up on Christmas morning with a pile of brand new books I can’t wait to dig into.
But my favorite thing about the holidays is all of the cooking and baking. I love doing both, and the months of November and December are heaven for me. I’m constantly in the kitchen, between Thanksgiving dinner, baking treats to take to holiday parties, the special muffins my mom and I make on Christmas morning, Christmas dinner, and fancy appetizers for New Years Eve (preferably eaten on the couch in comfy jammies with a few good friends around and bottles of good champagne).
Before, after, and in between all of those things, I bake cookies. My author bio says I have a cake recipe for every occasion, but I have a cookie recipe for every occasion too, come to think of it. The perfect chewy chocolate chip cookies, fast and delicious brownies, more involved but showstopping brownies, cinnamon-y snickerdoodles, snowy chocolate crinkles, buttery sables, a few version of homemade Oreos…I could go on and on. So of course, one of my favorite events of every holiday season is the annual cookie exchange for my cookbook club.
I started going to this cookie exchange over ten years ago, and I immediately realized I’d found my cookie people. The women in cookbook club are a broad range of ages, religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and professions. But the thing we all have in common is that we love to cook and to bake, and we take both seriously. Throughout the year, we meet once a month to cook from a variety of different cookbooks, but our December meeting is all about the cookies. For the cookie exchange, we each make 5 to 6 dozen cookies, and get to take home about a half dozen of everyone’s cookies. These are the people for whom I make my favorite cookies, or the ones with the complicated recipes, because I know they’ll appreciate them. In the years I’ve been going to cookbook club, we’ve had marriages, divorces, new jobs, retirements, babies being born, deaths, and so many other life accomplishments and challenges. I’ve learned so much from these women, not just about cooking, but about life (but I’ve learned a lot about cooking from them too). I start every day in the second half of December (and usually into the new year) with a cookie to go along with my coffee, I think about the person who made those cookies and smile.
I’m going to give you two cookie recipes, both of which I’ve brought to the cookie exchange. The first is easy and delicious, the second is an incredible pain, and I get furious at myself every year when I’m in the midst of making them (“JASMINE, DID YOU NOT DO THE MATH AND REALIZE THAT MAKING SANDWICH COOKIES WHEN YOU NEED SIX DOZEN COOKIES MEANS YOU NEED TO CUT OUT TWELVE DOZEN COOKIES, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”) but then I eat them and see how pretty they are and forget about all of that. Whether you make either of these recipes, your own favorite cookies, or you’re the designated eater instead of the baker, I hope you have a warm and sweet holiday season!
This recipe is from an old Bon Appetit, and my mom and I have been making these for well over 30 years.
Makes 8-9 dozen.
3 cups unsifted all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
Raspberry or strawberry preserves
Pecan halves (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt using an electric mixer or food processor. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat yolks with vanilla and add to flour mixture, and mix until the dough is completely blended.
Pinch off pieces of dough (approximately 3/4 teaspoon each) and roll into balls. Place on baking sheets. Using your thumb, make a round indentation in the center of each ball. Place about 1/8 teaspoon preserves in each and top with pecan half, if using. Bake until light brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
From the Silver Palate cookbook. I’ve tried other recipes, this one is the best, though I’ve tinkered with it a little.
Makes 4-5 dozen sandwich cookies
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¾ cups powdered sugar, separated into 1 cup and ¾ cup
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups shelled walnuts, toasted, cooled, and very finely chopped* OR 2 cups almond meal (Trader Joe’s has this from nuts only; using the almond meal isn’t as good as the chopped nuts, but it’s easier and sometimes cheaper)
½ cup raspberry preserves
*If you’re using the nuts, toast them carefully, either in the oven or on a dry frying pan, and cool them all the way before chopping. A food processor is key here to chop the nuts as finely as they need to be chopped. The original recipe doesn’t say to toast the nuts, but I think it’s better that way.
Cream the butter and one cup of the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Sift together the flour and cornstarch, and add that mixture, plus the nuts to the butter/sugar mixture and combine well. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours (overnight or for a few days is fine here).
When you’re ready to roll out the dough, only take a handful or so of the dough out of the refrigerator at a time, so the rest of the dough stays cold until right before you roll it out. Put a sheet of parchment paper on a table or cutting board, flour it lightly, put the dough on top of it, flour the top of the dough lightly, and then top the dough with another sheet of parchment paper. This is a very sticky dough, so have more flour near you if you need to flour the parchment more.
Roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies and put them on top of a cookie sheet covered in parchment (slide the cookie sheets into the fridge to keep the dough cold until you’re ready to bake them). My favorite cookie cutters to use for these cookies are this kind, especially since you can be even more precious and cut out cookie windows for the half of the cookies, and THEN you can bake those and have tiny little heart or star shaped sandwich cookies too, but you don’t have to be quite as obsessive as me.
Chill the cookies for at least 45 minutes before baking them. While they’re chilling, preheat the oven to 325 F. Bake the cookies for about 10-15 minutes, until they’re lightly browned. While they’re still warm, spread half of the cookies (the ones without the window, if you did that) with ¼ teaspoon of raspberry jam, and top with another cookie. Sift the remaining ¾ cup of powdered sugar over the tops of the cookies, and press the bottom halves into sugar. Enjoy!
Title The Wedding Date
Author Jasmine Guillory
Pages 304 Pages
Intended Target Audience Adult
Genre Contemporary Romance
To Be Published January 30th 2018 by Berkley Books
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.
On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…
After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…
They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…