If food is love, then my grandmother’s heart is bursting with sugar and chocolate. Glance in her freezer, and you’ll see I mean this quite literally. Stacks of cookie tins filled with assorted baked goods line her basement freezer year-round– and they have for decades. She'll take one out for company or holidays here and there, but somehow there’s always another packed tin ready to take its place.
While the cookies have rotated in and out, her stockpile dates back to the 1950s. Back in the day, my grandfather’s floral shop was the local North Pole. Well-wishers flocked to Louis the Florist for festive arrangements guaranteed to deliver season's greetings to their loved ones about town. Before his usual flurry of orders, he’d throw an annual holiday preview. Here, with tables of arrangements and holiday gifts all over the showroom, customers came in their Sunday best to plan for Christmas. Everyone had the chance to bring their yuletide vision to life. They’d leave with a custom design from my grandfather in one hand and one of my grandma’s cookies in the other.
Tasked with baking hundreds of holiday cookies for the occasion, my grandma would start months in advance. She’d accumulate more cookies than you could count, baking bourbon balls, thumbprints, chocolate drops, blondies, and snickerdoodles whenever she had a spare moment. My mother remembers pitching in every now and then, but grandma made the majority herself, one mixing bowl at a time.
Fast-forward to my childhood, and this end-of-year cookie sprint had slowed its pace to an all-year marathon. No matter the time of year, we were baking cookies. Most were eaten right away with a side of ice cream. But when the little hands were away, the freezer tins were stocked in grandma’s spare time as a matter of routine.
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This year, I decided to try one of her classic holiday preview recipes on my own. I worked from a photo I’d taken of her chocolate drop cookies recipe card on my last visit. Now in her nineties, she hasn’t used this chocolate-stained card in years. The measurements were committed to muscle memory ages ago. Not quite the baker she is, I found myself hanging on to every handwritten note.
Just like my grandmother’s, the end result was a cakey, chocolate lover’s dream. Unlike her, they were gone in just a few days. I lack the self-discipline to put anything with chocolate away for later.
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