A quick shout out to Regas Studio! Thanks so much for a year of great collaborations! From making our logo canvas overlay (that we've used at several events now) to beautiful custom paper bands for a client's bat mitzvah whoopie pie favors... you always do beautiful work!
There are many people out there who believe Valentine’s Day is just another “Hallmark Holiday.” Spoiled by cheesy cards, red roses, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, Valentine’s Day has become a holiday people avoid.
I have sweet childhood memories of making hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies with my mom, reading note cards from my classmates, and eating those super-sweet, chalky candy hearts. I loved the colors, flavors, and scents of the holiday. It’s just a short, sweet reminder of the simple pleasures in life, and to eat your chocolate.
As an adult, Valentine’s Day is still a holiday I enjoy with my mother and girlfriends, even more so than with any significant other. We still send each other Valentine’s and I still bake a plethora of gooey, buttery, scrumptious goods coated in chocolate. It seems, to me, like the perfect holiday to tell all those around you what they mean to you. It isn't a day to resent what you don't have, but better to enjoy who is around you. And maybe, it's a girly holiday because we just love pink and red.
However you like to spend the holiday, I highly encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get messy with some chocolate. If anything, the smell alone will fill your heart, and your home, with some sweet memories.
My absolute favorite thing to make on Valentine’s Day is hot chocolate. There’s something about the cold, snowy atmosphere that makes sipping on a warm, rich cup of creamy hot chocolate so comforting and rewarding. There is no way that my hot chocolate will be sipped in the absence of marshmallows, either. They add a sweet, sticky texture to your cup.
Here at One Girl, we have a very delicious cup of hot chocolate we like to create. It’s so simple, you can make it at home for your loved ones. Or just for yourself! Give it a shot, but don’t forget the marshmallows (which are even better when you make them yourself)!
Instant rich Hot Cocoa & Homemade Marshmallows
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Homemade Marshmallow (recipe follows)
- In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup of water to a simmer. Pour the water into a heat resistant bowl and add the chocolate chips and cinnamon. Stir thoroughly until all of the chocolate is melted. Let the ganache cool for 20 minutes.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of ganache into individual size disposable paper cups. Transfer the cups into an airtight container, and put into the refrigerator. Let cool completely. Sealed in an airtight container these ganache cups will stay fresh for 2 weeks.
- When you are ready for a cup of hot chocolate, fill your favorite mug half way with hot milk and unwrap a ganache serving into the mug. Stir thoroughly until the ganache has melted.
Note: You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Coat a 9 x 13-inch rectangular baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment ½ cup of cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water and let it sit as you prepare the other ingredients. The gelatin will absorb the water.
- In a heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ½ cup of water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture up to a boil, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and do not stir the syrup any more as it is heating.
- Being careful to agitate the pot as little as possible, attach the candy thermometer to the pot and continue to boil the syrup until it reaches 240°F. Be attentive towards the end because you do not want to overheat the syrup.
- When the syrup reaches 240°F carefully remove the pot from the heat. Turn the mixer on low speed, and carefully pour the hot syrup into the bowl of gelatin. Increase the speed to high and beat for 8 minutes. With the machine still running on high, add the vanilla. Continue whipping as the marshmallow becomes light and fluffy. After 5 to 7 minutes, the mixture will be stiff and luke warm. Stop the mixer and carefully scrape the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Using a spatula that has been sprayed with cooking spray, smooth the top of the marshmallow. Let cool for at least 5 hours, uncovered.
- To cut the marshmallows, sprinkle a generous amount of confectioners’ sugar on a cutting board. Turn the marshmallows out of the pan onto the cutting board. Sprinkle the top and sides with more confectioners’ sugar. Spray a large chef’s knife with cooking spray and carefully cut the marshmallows into cubes. This is very sticky business. Use plenty of confectioners’ sugar on your hands and on the marshmallows to help you fight the stickiness.
The marshmallows will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 to 6 days.
Battling the biggest snow storm in Toyko in 20 years (!), One Girl Cookies' own Ayumi Kato brought American-style sweets to her native Japan this week. Here are some excerpts from her blog post about her experience there. For the full post, please visit her site: I You Me ~ yum yum life in NY~.
I started to make pastries after I moved to NYC and I was working at a French cooking school in Japan so I knew how Japanese people loved French pastry. And French and American pastries are so different. So I was a bit nervous about how people react but it was good to introduce what we do in NYC.
I brought many ingredients from NYC and I introduced Lemon Olive Oil cake, Chocolate Whoopie Pies, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from One Girl Cookies' recipes. Some of them were in the OGC cookbook, too. I translated recipes in Japanese and adjusted ingredients to what we can get in Japan. Some ingredients are different so it was challenging to get all ingredients there. For example, we don't have All-purpose flour in Japan, so I changed it into Churikiko which is medium gluten ratio flour.
What I showed there was how easy American pastries are. And it might be difficult to take a look through American recipe books for Japanese people but it's super easy!! Everyone's reaction was "Wow, that's easy!! I can try it by myself!!" so that was what I wanted!! Everyone liked the pastries even if they were all very simple. Also Makoto made coffee with the Stumptown beans that I brought back from One Girl Cookies. That completed the tasting.
I saw many demonstrations of pastries showed amazing techniques of French pastries. And I loved it. I was so worried about how people would react to what I do, but it seemed everyone enjoyed my demonstrations so I was so relieved. There are so many people who can show difficult techniques of French pastries in Japan, so if I could show simple techniques and make people feel like making them at home, and know how simple and delicious American pastries are, that is what I want and what I want to do in the future.
And also I could show the pictures of cakes I've been making at OGC. Those are so different and super cute from what we can find in Japan. So it was good opportunity to show those designs for Japanese people too.
It was a really long day but it became one of my favorite days in my life!!! Thank you so much everyone who attended and helped this demonstration!! And also I'm so happy that I could show how cute and amazing One Girl Cookies is to Japanese people!!
This year for the first time, we got to experience The Wedding Party from both sides of the table! Ayumi (our pastry chef) and I were there as vendors and newly-engaged Katie (our business manager and social media guru) as a bride. I thought it would be fun for this post to chat with Ayumi and Katie and get their thoughts about the event.
Rebecca: Hi, ladies! So, a little background for our blog readers… This year, when we started planning for The Wedding Party, Dawn was already out on maternity leave. She texted me from home with her idea for this year’s theme: childhood favorites. I loved it! Although we can and have done very refined and grown-up sweets, there’s just something about cookies that automatically takes people back to when they were kids. It was so easy to really embrace this concept… chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, and “oreos” were all musts. And we just happened to have delicious recipes for all of these!
Rebecca: Once the brainstorming for the menu was underway, my starting point for creating the tablescape was knowing that Dawn really wanted to use our collection of apothecary jars to display the cookies. Building off that idea, I went with wood and glass serving pieces for a clean and sophisticated display of our whimsical and fun treats. I was really happy with the final look of the table.
This was your first time attending an event like this for One Girl, Ayumi. What did you think?
Ayumi: Everyone wanted to try our sweets and everyone loved them! So many people asked about S'mores cake and "Ring Dings", and they loved the oatmeal pies and "Snow Ball" cupcakes.
Rebecca: When I was growing up, I loved oatmeal cream pies. This wasn’t something we had made before but you guys took my sweets suggestion and came up with a delicious chewy oatmeal cookie sandwich that paired perfectly with the same sweet cream cheese frosting that we use for our whoopie pies. Good work! The pop of color from the “Snow Ball” cupcakes and the fun piping details on the rich and chocolate-y “Ring Ding” petits four looked awesome on the table… and they tasted super yummy, too!
Ayumi: Everyone went for the oatmeal cream pies and the mini black & whites first. They were popular items! (And we had placed them at the front of the table.)
Rebecca: Easy access!
Katie: As someone who attended the event as a bride and didn't work it, I have to say I thought we had the best table! It was so creative and unique. I know I am a bit biased, but I’m also very critical of desserts... My mother, who is an outsider, LOVED the cake, Ayumi!
Rebecca: People went crazy over the S'mores cake! (A big thank you to Marisa Macner and Jonathan Migdal who inspired us to create this cake for their September 2013 wedding!)
Katie: My mom was also a big fan of the oatmeal pies and Gingers (our vegan gingersnaps)!
Ayumi: Also, many people came back to snack on Mary (our chocolate chip cookies).
Katie: The Mary are my absolute favorite cookie we do, it would be a must at my own wedding!
Rebecca: And a lot of people really liked that we were serving shots of milk with the cookies. If I’d known how popular the milk was going to be, I would have brought more!
Katie: That was another aspect my mom really appreciated, she thought the "milk shots" took the table to another level! Something so simple but it really helps your guests have more fun.
Ayumi: Many brides who stopped by already knew One Girl. They tried sweets and told me how good they tasted, and when I gave them a card: "Ahhh! One Girl! I know you guys!!" Many of them worked in Dumbo or lived in Cobble Hill.
Rebecca: And in addition to meeting some great couples, maids of honor, and moms of the brides, I got to say hi to some vendor friends who I usually only get to talk to over email or on the phone (Darcy, Anthony, and Erin from Martha Stewart Weddings; Claudia from The Wedding Library; Ellen from Sidekick Events; Amanda from Newlywish; the lovely ladies from Loverly; Ron Ben-Israel; and Rebecca of nyccakegirl.com; just to name a few).
Katie: It was actually a lot of fun to see all these vendors we've worked with and think about how I could use them for my own wedding!
Ayumi: For me, we always make many things in the kitchen but we don't have chance to see people eats our sweets. It was great experience to see how they react.
Katie: I think the theme of our table was a winner; it was so much fun and showed real creativity and flexibility. Great job, guys!!
It has always seemed rather fitting to me, that amidst the dreary, bleak, cold winter we’re given the bright, tangy citrus season. It’s as if Mother Nature had this all perfectly planned out and knew that while we hide indoors all winter long, we’ll require mood-lifters like blood oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit. Something I learned rather quickly from attending a French culinary school is the difference lemon zest can have in a recipe. Adding lemon zest, something so simple and basic, can take your dish to the next level. This can be true for a sauce, brine, filling, cookie, bread, cake, or even frosting. Moving to California introduced me to the sheer fragrance of a Meyer lemon; something so small but so deliciously potent.
Types of Citrus—there are quite a few but here are some:
Bergamot—shape of an orange but color of a lemon; highly fragrant and not used for juice. Used in Earl Gray tea and essential oils.
Navel Orange- Round thick skinned juicy edible fruit that is a reddish-yellow color when ripe.
Clementine/Mandarin /Tangerine/Satsuma-- type of small, sweet orange with loose skin.
Blood Orange-- a variety of an orange with crimson, almost-blood colored flesh.
Grapefruit--Large round yellow citrus fruit with acid juicy flesh.
Citron-- The citron fruit is usually ovate or oblong; the outer is uniformly thin and very fragrant. The pulp is usually acidic, but also can be sweet.
Buddha’s Hand—a “fingered” variety of a citron.
Kumquat--the kumquat is like a citrus fruit and has an edible skin.
You may never have heard of many of these—they’re all grown in California, Florida, or oversee so they’re not regularly available. Bergamot oil can be found at Whole Foods or your local health food store and I can’t recommend enough for you to purchase some. Just one tiny drop added to your meringue, frosting, or cookie can make a profound impact on your taste buds! And kumquats can be eaten whole and raw, just watch out for the seeds! If you can’t handle the intense citrus-flavor, go ahead and boil them in some simple syrup for a little sweetness.
I grew up eating Clementine’s each winter as if they’re candy, and never knew there were so many different types! They’re all delicious and slightly different in flavor. My absolutely favorite is a Satsuma; slightly smaller and more easy to peel, the Satsuma is usually seedless and a bit more aromatic than your usual Clementine. While we’re talking oranges: there is nothing more exciting than peeling back the skin to discover a blood orange! These guys are pretty delicious and quite picturesque!
Now some recipes for you to experiment with citrus this winter season…
Lemon Shortbread with Fresh Rosemary
~from the One Girl Cookies cookbook
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and rosemary and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add egg and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the dry ingredients, stopping 2 to 3 times during mixing to scrape down the bowl. Mix until the dough is just beginning to come together. Do not over mix.
- Turn the dough out onto a cutting board. Dust lightly with flour and split dough in half.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on the cutting board, and put half of the dough on the parchment paper. Flatten the dough slightly with your hand and then top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out between the two sheets of parchment paper to about ½ inch thickness. You can use a light dusting of flour if the dough is sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minute
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, peel off both sheets of parchment, and put the dough on a cutting board. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the dough. Place cookies onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Reserve the scraps of dough; it can be rerolled to make more cookies. Sprinkle a pinch of Turbinado sugar on the top of each cookie.
- Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until they have a slight golden color around the edge. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tips: Turbinado sugar is also called sugar in the raw and can be found in most specialty food stores.
Recipes from around the web…
Joy the Baker: spinach, feta, blood orange salad
Smitten Kitchen: nectarine, mascarpone, and gingersnap tart
Eat, Live, Run: spicy grapefruit margaritas
We wouldn't be what we are today without our fabulous customers who make it happen.
Where are you from?
How did you find One Girl?
Charlie was the very first customer to OGC on the first day we opened. Charlie's family had moved in across the street when renovation on the space that would become One Girl Cookies began. Charlie was already then a big fan of baking and so was very excited to have a lovely bakery right across the street. When he found out that we were also opening our second location in Dumbo he made it a point to be the first customer there as well.
How long have you been a customer?
Since opening day! Charlie, now 15, was 8 and he has been a pretty much daily customer ever since.
What is your favorite item?
Chocolate cake with mocha filling and chocolate buttercream.
When do you come?
"When it's not closed."
What do you do when you're not here?
school & sleep!
Sweet or savory/hot or iced?
Sweet! And hot chocolate slowly poured over 4 coffee ice cubes, also known as "The Charlie"
Do you like to cook at home?
"I like to bake at home. I took a cake baking class at OGC and started baking cakes." Charlie has made some amazing cakes including one for his dad that was 3 tiers with characters from his books (Charlie's dad is Tad Hills, a well-known children's book author and illustrator) and a cake with moving parts!
What is your favorite One Girl story?
Charlie has a lot of great OGC stories but one of the best is the quiz. Charlie was sitting at the cafe not doing much one day and decided to make an employee quiz. He looked through the employee handbook and came up with a list of questions to ask all employees to test their OGC knowledge. As far as I know, no one has yet gotten a perfect score on this quiz! There is also a much-coveted certificate, signed by Charlie after completion.
Any good food memories you'd like to share?
We revisited a ton of good stories over the course of our chat. Some highlights include Charlie dressing up as OGC manager extraordinaire Joel for Halloween; making masks that were put on sticks (and which still live stuck in odd places around the cafe) and hanging out discussing how awesome the Red Sox are! It's pretty much always a fun time hanging out with Charlie at OGC!
We wouldn't be what we are today without our fabulous customers who make it happen.
This is Kate. She’s part of a very select group of OGC customers—the former employees. Kate worked at the Dean St. shop for about eight months before moving on to a different job. Luckily her new position is located in Dumbo, so she has been able to remain a part of the One Girl family. It’s always nice to see a familiar face stopping in on a coffee break or just to catch up!
Where are you from originally?
Alameda, CA, a suburb of San Francisco.
What brought you to NYC?
I went to college on the East Coast and after graduating, I decided I wanted to move to Brooklyn and find a job in New York.
How did you find One Girl Cookies?
It’s a two-part story, actually. In the summer of 2010, I was interning and living in Williamsburg and I hadn’t explored other parts of Brooklyn. So my friend and I decided to spend a day in Cobble Hill, where I stumbled upon a really cute cookie shop and ate a delicious cupcake.
In the fall of 2011, after I graduated college and moved back to Brooklyn, I was looking for a part-time job and ended up interviewing at the Dean St. shop, realizing that it was the same place I had discovered the summer before.
What’s your favorite item to order?
I get iced coffee, even during the winter, because the coffee ice cubes are just that good. If I come for breakfast, I like to get the frittata. For a snack, I love the Sadie cookie.
When do you like to come to One Girl Cookies?
I like to come in the afternoon, usually around 3. It’s a good time for a little break from work, to get a coffee and recharge.
What do you do when you’re not at One Girl Cookies?
I’m a copywriter at an agency that works with non-profits. I live in Bed-Stuy and am very involved in the community there and help run a community garden. I also really like going to trivia nights with friends.
Do you like things sweet or savory?
Usually savory, but it feels wrong not to be a sweets person when you’re at One Girl Cookies.
Do you like to cook at home? If so, what’s your favorite thing to cook?
I do like to cook, and since I live in Brooklyn I really like kale. I’ve been making a lot of raw kale salads and kale pesto recently.
Do you have a good OGC story you’d like to share?
When I worked at Dean St, there were a lot of regulars, one of whom was a boy named Charlie, who was about 12 at the time. He took it upon himself to create a quiz for new employees based on our employee handbook, with detailed questions about pricing, order-taking, ingredients, and many, many other aspects of the business. When I first started, I think I got a D. When I was leaving One Girl, he gave me the quiz again, as an exit interview of sorts, and I scored in the 90s. It was a very special moment.
Any good memories involving sweets/bakeries/coffee shops that you’d like to share?
When I was growing up, I was deeply afraid of pink poodles. (I still am, in fact.) I also was obsessed with Hayden Christensen, of Star Wars fame (though admittedly I was a fan because of Life as a House...). When it was my birthday in maybe sixth grade, my friend decided to make me a special cake. It had a pink poodle (either a sugar cookie, decorated to look like a poodle or some sort of meringue thing) and then crumbled up pictures of Hayden Christensen. Basically, she went to a bakery in Alameda and had them construct my worst nightmare at the time. It was very sweet, in a weird way, and also very delicious.
This time of year is brimming with traditions. Some are shared across cultures, others within a family and yet new traditions are being created each season as new families emerge out of marriages and births. It is part of what I love about the holidays and that is even more so each year as Nate gets older and these things actually begin to mean something to him.
Putting up the tree is no exception and an evening that I always look forward to. Each step of the process, from buying the tree to putting it in the stand to adorning it, had an impression on Nate. I guess when the highlight of your average day is snack time, it’s easy to see why buying a living tree from a stranger on the street, erecting it in your home and hanging all sorts of interesting things on its’ branches, is pretty monumental. It was so fun to unwrap each ornament, reminisce about where it came from and then place it in his little hands. He was determined to find the perfect spot on the tree for each one. It’s the stuff that memories are made of.
Aside from the actual ritual of trimming the tree, I love that evening because I am always reminded of my favorite holiday memory of all time. Hard to believe, but it actually has nothing to do with receiving my favorite toy or believing that I actually saw Santa’s sleigh careen through the sky. It happened about ten years ago and it was during a time in my life when the holidays had a much different meaning for me.
I had only started One Girl Cookies a few years prior and the month of December meant sixteen hour days standing on aching feet, refusing every holiday party invitation and wishing for the ability to stay up past 9 o’clock on Christmas Eve. Dave had just become my business partner and boyfriend and it was our first co-habitating Christmas. As exciting as all of that was, I felt a sadness that I now had someone to share in the merriment of the season but we were working too hard to actually do that. My mom, being the person that worked hard to create memorable holiday seasons for my sisters and I, always felt some sympathy that I never decorated my apartment or put up a tree or had a darn cup of eggnog. So, that year, she, my dad and my sisters were committed to changing that.
After a particularly long day of baking hundreds of cookies, wrapping them up in pretty boxes and getting them to their intended recipients, Dave and I returned home to our Brooklyn walk up to find the most magical of Christmas scenes. There, in our little apartment stood the most perfect evergreen decked out in lights and garland and glittery ornaments. The smell of the pine and the glow of the lights transformed that space in a way that was indescribable.
Instantly, the holiday took on a whole new meaning. As if that weren’t enough, the tree was perched next to our refrigerator, which was fully stocked with enough homemade food to get us (as well as a small town) through the rest of the holiday season. My gut reaction was to burst into tears. I was overcome with emotion but also perplexed at how they would even get into our apartment to accomplish such a feat. I later learned that it involved a scouting mission ahead of time, a lot of coaxing of our landlord and some true family team work. It was the most perfect reminder of how lucky I am to have such a loving and beautiful family. And also, that the beauty of Christmas comes in all sorts of, sometimes unexpected, forms.
It may be obvious but for every friend and family gathering, when I pose the question, “What can I bring?”, dessert is almost always the answer. Of course, I appreciate this consideration from my loved ones because it provides me with an easy escape should I choose to take it (which I almost always do). By that, I mean that I can simply grab a One Girl order form, jot down the dessert of my choice, and voila, my responsibility as gracious guest is fulfilled.
That being said, there is always a bit of guilt attached to that decision once I see the contributions of others. Appetizers and side dishes and salads that I know took the maker a good amount of precious time and effort. I humbly accept the compliments on my dessert and vow that next time I will refrain from taking the easy route and actually make the dessert myself. Considering that I actually LOVE to bake, this should not be difficult. You would think I would relish the opportunity to plunge my hands into some velvety dough or whip some sweet cream or slice a bowlful of juicy fruit. I figured that Thanksgiving would be the perfect debut for my homemade desserts.
Once I made that decision, I almost immediately felt a tinge of regret. Reason being that where Thanksgiving pie is concerned, I am somewhat of a purist. I feel like apple and pumpkin pies fare very well for themselves and need little, if any, adornment. That’s how we make them at One Girl Cookies and so why was I trying to mess with perfection? Perhaps I was just getting hung up on principal. But, since I made the commitment, I needed to follow through. I began perusing my recipes looking for something classic, yet with an ever so slight twist…just so I could call it my own. What I found fit the bill…and filled the belly.
For the apple, I chose a fairly straightforward double crust but…here’s where it gets good. It was filled with four, yes FOUR, pounds of heirloom apples. It was unclear how I would even fit so many apples under that crust but we (we being Dave and I who, for a remarkable culinary feat, actually worked in the kitchen together…harmoniously) realized that the more we piled the apples on, the more the pastry dough embraced them. It was like a magic trick and the white rabbit was instead the loveliest mile high pie.
In the case of the pumpkin pie, I decided on a pumpkin meringue. I was a tad skeptical. Was the meringue element going to be totally gratuitous? Maybe, but the photo of the huge pouf of meringue perched atop the amber pumpkin filling seduced me. I went for it. And the answer was, hell no…not gratuitous in the least. Actually, I might say the meringue will be downright necessary for Thanksgivings to come. As will desserts that I actually make myself. Mainly, because I so enjoyed doing it.
For me, Hanukkah has always been about savory foods and disregarding my current culinary preferences in favor of the foods I grew up eating around the holidays. There’s the oil-permeated air that saturates your clothes, your kitchen and the rest of your home that ordinarily would be kind of gross, but on Hanukkah it’s comforting. Plus, it indicates that you’ll soon be piling crisp fried latkes onto your plate and topping them with cool sour cream and applesauce. Usually I like my vegetables browned and crisp, right out of a very hot oven. But during the holidays I prefer when my carrots can be smushed apart by a fork, the result of lingering in brisket juices for hours.
My nostalgia for Hanukkah desserts is a little less strong. Some families would have donuts after dinner, to incorporate another food cooked in oil, but my family never did. My memories of Hanukkah dessert aren’t negative, like my memories of sitting down for lunch during Passover in elementary school, eating store-bought, semi-stale coconut macaroons while watching friends dive into piles of Easter candy. For Hanukkah, there was gelt—gold-wrapped chocolate coins—but other than that, it felt like there were no rules for dessert.
Because Hanukkah falls around Christmas (except for this year’s odd placement next to Thanksgiving) and is one of the more secular Jewish holidays, it has taken some cues from its more widely celebrated calendar-mate. Most obviously, there’s the giving of gifts. But in my family, we would also always decorate our house with “Happy Hanukkah” banners and place stick-on menorah decals on our front door. Most importantly, though, we would break out the only cookie cutters we had in my house and bake and decorate dreidel and Star of David cookies.
This year I’ll treat myself to one of the Hanukkah cookies we have at the shop. It’s definitely tastier and undoubtedly prettier than the ones I made when I was little. But whether your Hanukkah cookies are decorated by a child with wobbly hands, or intricately marbled by a professional, whether they’re eaten in November or December, their presence is a sign of eight celebratory days to come, and of the beginning of the holiday season.