Jessie Raymond: Consume cookies at your own risk
This week, I’m sharing my favorite Christmas recipe: mace cookies. You can enjoy these yummy holiday treats with just a few simple ingredients and a pair of elastic-waist pants.
As you know, mace is a powdered spice made by drying and grinding the gummy red coating on nutmeg hulls. Its flavor is similar to nutmeg but is more complex and intoxicating, so don’t try to save yourself a trip to the grocery store by substituting nutmeg in this recipe. (Fine, I’ll look the other way just this once, but next time spring for some mace.)
Please note that ground mace is not the same as the canned mace spray designed to blind assailants, so if you’re thinking you’ll just use a squirt of the stuff you’ve got in your purse, don’t. Likewise, chucking mace cookies at an attacker is unlikely to slow him down much unless you get crumbs in his eyes.
To make mace cookies, you roll out the dough and cut it into various holiday shapes just like regular sugar cookies. Make no mistake, however: Although mace cookies contain obscene amounts of butter and sugar, they’re no mere sugar cookie.
Sugar cookies are soft and compliant and good in their own unassuming way. Mace cookies, on the other hand, are strong and assertive. They are eaten unadorned; no sissy sprinkles allowed. They come out of the oven chewy but harden up like festive-shaped paving stones in a matter of hours. They like to be dunked. And once you bite off a reindeer’s leg and get through the initial skull-shaking crunch, the cookie will slowly soften in your mouth, releasing its delicate mace essence and making you want one more.
Therein lies the problem.
You eat the first one and the aroma, hard edges and only slightly softer center are so delectable you think, “Maybe I’ll have another.” Of course you will. And another and another and another.
There is no such thing as portion control when it comes to mace cookies. Don’t think, for instance, that you can have just one when you get home in the afternoon. You’ll ruin your dinner. I know this because I’ve done it three times in the past week, and I’ll do it again at least twice before the holidays are over.
I hesitate to use the word “addictive” to describe food, but mace cookies do have a peculiar attractive quality. Around this time of year we always get a lot of company, but I always assumed friends and family just wanted to drop in for some holiday cheer. Now I’ve noticed that when I open the door they look past me, their eyes scanning the horizon for any sign of mace cookies on the premises. They drink coffee and eat a few dozen cookies and then slip extras into their coat pockets when they think I’m not looking.
I can’t blame them.
Here’s the recipe:
Jessie’s Mace Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (real butter — not margarine, not Crisco, not Canola spread, not axle grease)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. mace
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the first mixture, stirring until a firm dough forms. Chill. Roll the dough to the desired thickness, cut into whatever shapes you want and bake in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes until the cookies are just starting to brown around the edges. Set them on a wire rack to cool and leave the house immediately to avoid stuffing them all right into your mouth.
Now, I don’t mean to be alarmist, but I feel I should disclose the following: Shortly after I went on a three-day mace cookie bender last week, the giant blue exercise ball I sit on at work popped in a loud and startling fashion, sending me on a brief but terrifying one-way trip to the floor. (I’m fine; witnesses, however, are still snorting with laughter.)
The event probably had nothing to do with my mace cookie consumption — despite what my husband says — but the timing was uncanny. So do me a favor: Enjoy mace cookies in moderation. And if that’s not possible (it’s not), then at least promise to stick to sturdy, non-inflatable seating until after New Year’s.
You know a cookie’s good when it comes with a public safety warning.