I'm still eating Christmas cookies and you could be too!

There's a good chance that come holiday time, you'll find yourself at a family gathering and at the gathering there will be a plate or container of cookies. For as far back as I can remember, there have always been cookies around during these events. Most of the time they are homemade and there are a variety of different types of cookies. It wasn't until I met Christine that Christmas cookies became a bigger part of my life. I've always loved to bake but I didn't really make cookies all that often. Christine's family on the other hand takes it rather seriously. Both her mother and her aunt make a bunch of cookies (the former more than the latter) and when I say a bunch, I mean a metric shit ton.
I've never seen somebody making hundreds of dozens, let me repeat that...HUNDREDS OF DOZENS, of more than twenty types of cookies like Christine's mother does. What does one do with that many cookies? Eat them, duh. But also make platters to give away as gifts and to have for breakfast on Christmas morning. It obviously takes quite some time to make HUNDREDS OF DOZENS, so you need a way to keep them moist so that they don't get stale but we'll get to that in a moment.

Now we don't make nearly that many in amount or type but we do break the 50 dozen mark without breaking a sweat. We make anywhere between four and seven different kinds of cookies but a few of them are mainstays every year with one or two being something new. This year, since we were staying home for Christmas, we scrapped all but one recipe from our usual repertoire, Pistachio Cranberry Shortbreads, since they're my favorite and one of my brother's favorites as well. Short bread cookies have one of the longer shelf lives in the cookie world as long as they don't have any icing. Icing, especially ones made with dairy, don't tend to do well in storage for too long. I made a double batch of them exactly one month ago and guess what? They taste better now than they did when they first came out of the oven. And it seems the longer they sit, the more flavor they develop. They normally would have jumped past the point between delicious and stale a week or two ago if I hadn't been tending to them periodically. By that I mean giving them more moisture so they don't dry out completely. 

There are many ways to keep cookies fresh after putting them in an air tight container but here are three that I've tried:

1) Add a slice of bread - After putting a piece of wax paper over the top most layer, lay a slice of bread inside and close the container. When the slice of bread becomes hard or stale, simply replace it with a fresh one.

2) Add a slice or chunk of apple - Just add it in like you would the bread. If the apple gets really dried out, just replace it with a new piece.

3) Add a damp paper towel - Soak a paper towel with water, wring out until damp but not dripping, and follow the same instructions for the bread or apple. You can re-soak the paper towel after it dries out.

The key to using any of these is not switching out the item of choice too soon. If you replace any of them on a daily basis or even every other day, your cookies will get WAY too much moisture and either start to crack or possibly get soggy. Trust me, I've made this mistake before. You need to wait until the item is bone dry before replacing it. Another thing you need to consider is what each of those three things will do to the cookies. I've found that both the bread and the apple end up leaching their tastes into the cookies. Some cookies like short breads do a better job than say ginger bread or any other soft baked cookie at not absorbing the flavors. There's nothing worse than taking a bite of a cookie and have it taste like old bread. So my suggestion is to use the paper towel method. I've been using it this year for the first time and I think it works a lot better.

So, if you add this simple step to your cookie baking, you could still be enjoying your favorite cookies weeks after the holidays are over without having to freeze them.



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