I’m drinking Darjeeling tea, and thinking about the cookies I baked this past week – not quite the cookie factory my mom and sister used to have going, but close. It was fun, but it kind of made me sad, too, because I was thinking how much nicer it would have been if my dad had been sitting in the kitchen stealing cookies as soon as they came out of the oven. I guess if I had kids, I wouldn’t have that feeling because I would be distracted by smacking their hands and trying to keep them from stealing cookies. You can’t really do that with your father, though, and no one ever tried. He always saw himself as “quality control”: he’d eat the misshapen cookies, the burnt (or as my mother used to say “dark”) cookies, the cookies that fell apart as soon as you took them off the cookie sheet. His favorites – the ones he had to check the most often – were the chocolate chip cookies and the peanut butter cookies with chocolate sprinkles. So it’s tradition in my family to use chocolate sprinkles on peanut butter cookies, instead of something Christmas-y.
My dad’s been gone for almost 9 years now, but whenever I’m coming up with new ideas for cookies, I try to think what he’d like. After all, part of the reason I’m experimenting now is to come up with recipes to use when I open my tea shop and I need to be able to market to men as well as to women. I think he might have enjoyed the Black Forest cookies I came up with!
As for what kind of cookies I made, I baked the afore-mentioned peanut butter cookies; gingerbread cookies (of course), which pair very well with a nice holiday spice tea; and Black Forest cookies (chocolate drop cookies with white chocolate chips and dried sweet cherries) that need a strong Ceylon black tea to cut the sweetness. Spritz cookie wreaths are always a favorite, as well as the candy-cane cookies that are like sugar cookies with peppermint extract, decorated with crushed-up candy-canes. I’m not sure what kind of tea the last two would be best with, but I’ve been eating them with a Georgian black tea that’s very mellow with just a hint of sweetness, and I’ve been enjoying that combination.
I also made a very interesting batch of rosemary shortbread cookies that are fantastic with tea, especially the Darjeeling I’m drinking (Castleton Estate first flush). The rosemary picks up the grassy notes in the tea perfectly. So they’ve earned a place on my menu.
Most of the cookies have been packed in boxes and sent off to friends and family around the country, but I’ve kept a few here for my mom and me to eat when she arrives. She told me very specifically not to give them all away.