Ma Savage's Christmas Cookies

Comments

1
Thank you, Dan. It is sweet of you to pass the love on. And, a big virtual hug.

Ps. I hope it isn't rude if I try them with bourbon. Everything tastes better with bourbon these days. And, I'v got a pretty bottle of Wild Turkey Traditions, 14 y.o. and 101 proof that I save for the best of things. xo
2
Thanks, Dan. I think I will make these in the spirit of your mom and send some to my brothers, who I won't be seeing this Christmas!
3
Are the pecans supposed to be left whole (or halved) or chopped before adding them to the dough?
4
@lily
I would think chopped
5
You don't need to chop up the pecans. The cutting up the loaf into inch-square cubes takes care of the pecan chopping. And I like big pieces of nuts in the cookies.

My mom, for the record, usually left the pecans out. They're delicious just the same.
6
Thanks for sharing, both the recipe and the story. I'm smiling imagining the fierce CNN ass-kicker at home baking cookies and thinking of his mum...very sweet.
7
Thanks for clarifying, Dan! And thanks also to your wonderful mother.
8
Thanks for the recipe Dan, I don't think I've ever had them with cocoa.

Ma Savage, no one has forgotten you.
9
Thanks for sharing, Dan, these look delicious.
10
Oh, and...

These cookies are crumbly, and good with milk. But they're not good for dunking in milk.
11
Can't wait to try them out. Thank you for sharing.
12
Also...

There's a lot of butter in these cookies -- and, consequently, they can burn pretty quickly. It's like the bottoms, if you overcook them just a bit, fry in the butter and burn.

20 minutes tops -- the cookies are soft-ish when they come out. Transfer them off cookie sheet with a spatula right away, gently setting them on counter, so they can cool. Don't wait for them to harden or set on the sheet before you transfer them... because then they'll burn. Let the sheet cool before you put more cookies on it. Keep two sheets rotating in and out of oven -- and only load up a sheet after it's been out of the oven for ten minutes or so.... otherwise the butter starts to cook on the hot sheet, and then the bottoms of the cookies burn before 20 minutes are up.
13
Have you tried using parchment paper? It has an amazing, non-stick surface, but no silicone like those Silpat mats. One sheet of paper is good for multiple batches of cookies, and the over-browning on the bottom issue doesn't seem to happen as much.
14
Dan Savage, I love you. Thanks for sharing your recipe . . . my boyfriend and I are gonna make it next week when we're done with our law school final exams =) I promise to let you know how they come out!

-Jason
15
I clicked back to last year's post, and now I am crying a bit. The hurt never does go away.

I'll make me a batch of these, and have a sob for your mom and my dad ... Christmas isn't the same when you are missing someone.
16
Four years after her death just before the holidays, I have found no way to honor my mother's memory.

She became ill suddenly and died after emergency surgery. She was cremated, there was no funeral, and a year or so later, without consulting my brother or me, my dad took her ashes on a hike and scattered them in an area where they had had one of their first picnic dates as a young couple.

I understand and forgive, because my dad was away when she became ill and did not exactly rush back after I called him. She died about four hours before he returned by car, and I was alone with her. My dad's grieving has always been intensely private; he left his wife and his children behind to be with "his" family when his father died (I was in my mid-teens) and 17 years later when his mother died, he did the same thing. He did take care after scattering my mom's ashes to show me on one of his topographic maps, and mark with a small X, where he had been. I don't want to go there yet. I picked out the clothes that my mom was cremated in, and took her regular hair stylist up on her incredibly kind offer to wash and set her hair in the mortuary. Having sat alone with my mom in the ICU after they removed the tubes and having held her hand while it was still warm, I did not want to see her before cremation, but found enormous comfort and a wry chuckle in knowing that her beautiful steel-gray hair was as she liked it.

Grief does not dissipate for anyone, but dysfunction and lack of acknowledgement make it even harder.
17
Does it work without the pecans?

*allergic SO over here*
18
Canuck@13: parchment paper is indeed miraculous stuff, but the "active ingredient" in it is, in fact, silicone.
19
Ooh, thank you for the recipe... for the stories... and like Canuck I'm smiling at the image of the awesome CNN ass-kicker baking cookies for his family...
20
@ 16, I'm so sorry, Rob. We have some of the same dynamics here, from the picking out her clothes to the no funeral, except that these are the first holidays that her chair will remains empty. It does sting.

A big virtual hug being deeply sent. Take care.

@ 5, 10, & 12, And, thanks again, Dan, from my husband's mom's sugar cookies (she died when he was a teen), to her butter cookies, will add your mom's recipe, (plus some buttered-rum Lamingtons for my birthday), some sweet in the biittersweetness of this year. There is a lot of baking to be done.
21
@ 17/Fannerz, see @ 5.
22
Thank you very much, these look awesome! Here's a tip for anyone who has cookie bottom overcooking issues - double pan. Putting a (matching) cookie sheet underneath the first one creates a thin layer of air that stays a little cooler than the oven temperature. Thus the bottoms of the cookies cook a little more slowly and burning is prevented! Works like a charm.
23
@18 Oh no, doctor memory, say it ain't so! I guess there's some truth to "too good to be true" (or healthy...)

Just went back and read through the comments from the original post last year, and some of them here...wow, holidays are such mixed blessings, both heartwarming and painful.
24
Canuck: 'fraid so. Look at the amazon product descriptions if you doubt. Not sure why you'd think it's unhealthy though: the whole point of them is that they're stable at oven temperatures and don't stick to (or leach into) your food.
25
They sound fantastic! I will make some this weekend. :)

Thank you!
26
Thanks, Dan, and h/t to the memory of Ma Savage.
27
That's sweet of you, Dan :) Reminds me a cookie my gran made.
28
Very generous share, dude, these sound delicious. Now, if it were MY mother, she would -- for everyone other than her children -- leave out an essential ingredient! So no one's dish was ever as good as hers! Her children, though... she gave us the full recipe. I miss her too.
29
Bless you, Kim, in every possible way. (Being agnostic, I'm not at all sure what the possibilities might be.) I am so sorry for your loss. You had alluded to illness and crisis in some comments, but if you ever got specific I missed it. Is your family of German ancestry, by any chance? Denial of illness and pain, suffering in silence, etc. are what I grew up with--and there was lots to deny. The other side of the family was Scots/Irish with a tendency toward oversharing, TMI, being overdramatic and overwrought (at least to my German genes)--so there was always a lot of tension between the two influences.

May peace hunt you down and dog your every step ;-)
30
Thanks so much for sharing - both the recipe and the memories.

Incidentally, my parents (who despite being devout atheists take Christmas pretty seriously) are coming to visit me in Boston this year, instead of having me fly down. These cookies sound like a great way to ward off the cold. :-)
31
Rob,

German, Irish, Scotch Irish, French, and Seneca. I get the tension thing. Thank you for remembering. She (and three others) passed earlier this year. It's been a very hard year.

Wishes for your peace being deeply sent. Take care.
32
The Penzey's spice company published a recipe very close to this in the nineties as "Cocoa Buttons." That recipe called for pulsing the pecans into almost a flour. As Dan said, it's a good task for little hands, also because there's no egg in the dough. They ship rather well, too.
33
Yo! The House just passed DADT...with Olympia Snowe confirmed to vote for appeal...this is promising, right?

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/12/15/g…
34
Yes, it's promising. It looks like the Senate will vote on the standalone bill sometime next week.

I dunno about Snowe -- I'll believer her when I see her vote. But that said, I think there's a good chance it will pass the Senate.
35
Rob,
I'm sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like you were the best son your mom could have asked for.
And I'm sorry for your dad, too, because he closes himself off to the comfort and support he could be finding in his family.
But everyone mourns differently.

I'm a mom,and even though I'm an atheist who doesn't believe in any kind of afterlife, I believe that a mother's love for her children is so strong that something of her essence remains guarding them even when she's no longer part of this world.
36
So these are like a chocolate pecan sandie?
37
My mother was killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve in 1986, and the loss is no less raw right now than it was 24 years ago. It just doesn't fill every moment.

My mother also made various sweets and baked goods, although her classic was Peanut Butter Buckeyes. I will roll up a batch of Ma Savage's Christmas cookies and toast both our wonderful mothers, Dan.
38
Be careful, if you don't roll them perfectly round and spherical they look like turds.
The pecan chunks enhance the turd look.
39
Um Dan, just thought you'd want to know that when you click on "continue reading" Ma Savage's recipe disappears.

I went to copy and paste so I could print and POOF.
40
We planted a tree in a local park to honour my dad - he always used to take the kids and the dog there when he visited us. A mountain ash, so it would have berries in the winter to feed the waxwings. It's got a little plaque, with his name and dates, and I find myself visiting it pretty often.
41
@39 -- I can pull up the recipe with no issues whatsoever. Might be some kink in your system? Try shutting the browser down then restarting and/or the same to your computer. There is a bit of javascript wonkery at the Stranger's website, and if your javascript client has gone off the rails, it might have that effect you describe. If you still can't get to it, I'm sure one of us can repaste it here in the comments.
42
I'm gonna make these. I like making Christmas cookies that have a story behind them and family recipes that are passed down are my favorites. Thank you for this recipe and for the story behind it. I will keep you and your mom in my thoughts as I make them.
43
I'm looking forward to making these this Christmas. Thank you for sharing something which is beautiful in more ways than one.

I'm only in my early twenties, and both my parents remain, but I had adearly loved great-great-aunt who passed this October at the very respectable age of 98 and was the finest cook I ever had the fortune to know, and I was lucky enough that she passed her own book of recipes down to me. Auntie was a very capable woman - she broke her collarbone aged 95 carrying a bag of compost out of her car - who kept all her dignity and faculties up until the very end, and I plan on remembering her this Christmas with batches of her unrivalled shortbread, and next year with the justly famous Christmas cake she sent to each little unit of our massively extended family (we're descended from a huge farming family from Cumbria, and we cover most of the UK and a fair chunk of the world besides by now).

It's funny how something so simple as a recipe can be so moving. Thank you for sharing this one with us, Dan. You and your mother will be in my thoughts when I bake this Christmas.
44
Thanks for Sharing Dan! Just moved into my new place and I found the recipe to break in the oven! :)
45
hey!
the xmas hating homoliberalhumanistheathens could make these little turd balls every xmas as a sacrament to the blessed madona, mother of the chosen one....
every cult needs some rituals.
why should danny's credulous fanboys (and fanfaghags....) be left out?
(wash them down with koolaid....)
46
Thanks Dan! I'm going to try these for when my family comes to visit for Christmas. All the best. :D
47
@41, Thanks BEG, I'm finally able to get it this morning on my work computer. Last night I tried a bunch of times at home and even rebooted and couldn't get it.
48
Just for the record, these cookies go very well with a good Winter Ale. I look forward to getting that tin!
49
@5 - Oh, good, I was going to ask if the pecans can be omitted because I am allergic.
50
49
in that case use them unshelled
51
okay, so I understand from your writing that you like to bake, Dan, and obviously have raised a child, but this line: "a perfect job for little (freshly washed) hands" seems so house-wifey/food-networky... Of everything I've read from you, this is by far the most shocking.
52
Here's my batch, made for tonight's shindig. Thank you so much for sharing, Dan.

http://twitpic.com/3h7ef3
53
Possibly a dumb question, but one I've learned I need to ask: the recipe calls for 'butter'. Does that mean salted butter or unsalted butter? Thanks for sharing :)