Christmas Eve Traditions ... {Blogmas Day 24}

9:00 AM

Twas the night before Christmas ...

My earliest and fondest memories of Christmas are being in the kitchen baking cookies with my mother. 

Baking was a staple in my childhood, but it was extra special during the holidays. We only ever made our almond crescent cookies during Christmas - usually for small tokens of appreciations to my teachers at school and bus drivers, our mail person, our neighbors. 

I'm not sure where this exact recipe comes from. You see, these cookies have been a part of each one of my Christmases and in our family for so long that we don't even have the recipe or instructions written down, my mother just knows the measurements and her hands tell her what to do. I would share it if I were able to. 

Mostly I want to share why this little Christmas Eve tradition is so important to me. This was where my mom and I bonded most - through cooking and baking. My mom and I have always been close, but she was the first person who taught me how to cook and bake. Making cookies for Santa was where my love for baking started. 

This cookie she taught me how to make is Slovak in origin. It's a very different take compared to making struffoli, which comes from my dad's side of the family. 

These almond cookies are my favorites for two reasons:

1. They melt in your mouth.
2. Shaping them into crescents while listening to Christmas music reminds me out of a scene from a holiday movie. 

Not only did I love helping my mom make these a little girl - I loved waking up every Christmas morning to find them half eaten from Santa Claus. I was always so excited to know that he approved of my baking. 

Since I can't share the exact recipe with you guys, I can tell you where you might be able to find an alternative recipe. About Food has the closest recipe I've found, however we have never used eggs. If you omit egg in your batch, your cookies should come out fine. Funnily enough, we don't use chopped almonds in our cookies either, we only use the almond extract. Instead, we like to use finely chopped/ground walnuts in ours instead. It gives it a unique yet subtle taste. 

Once we've combined all ingredients together, we use a small cookie scoop to grab a ping-pong sized ball of dough and shape them into logs before pulling the ends in to make them crescents. 

They can sometimes spread in the oven due to all of the butter in the recipe, but we just make sure to lay them out evenly on cookie sheets so that they have enough room just in case they decide to run. 

We only leave them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, but that is absolutely all they need in there. When you take them out, they'll feel a little mushy but they'll definitely harden up by the time they cool off. 

The most important thing I can tell you is to let them completely cool off before dusting them in powdered sugar. If they're even slightly warm, it turns into a huge mess and the sugar never sticks. 

Some people use a sifter or sprinkle it on top, but Mom and I have always dumped a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar into a Ziploc bag and dropped a few cookies in to coat them completely. 

They might not be for Santa anymore, but they're still my favorite Christmas Eve tradition ... 

What are your Christmas Eve traditions? 

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