They apparently started off life in Persia as early as the seventh century: the cookie, though it has nothing to do with the word cook, eventually came to mean “little cake,” by virtue of an old Dutch word. You can see why it is a perfect description.
The cookie might actually be the perfect baked good: compact, easily eaten, and packed with flavour. They are little rounds or squares of sugary, flavoured dough that can be made by cutting from bars, by dropping blobs on the so-named cookie sheets, by stamping them out into a variety of shapes, by squeezing them out of pastry bags, or by shaping them out in molds. However they are prepared, everyone loves a cookie.
In fact, at this time of the year when darkness rules and sun rarely shines, I challenge anyone to say the word cookie without smiling and feeling an instant injection of happiness. Say it with me: cookie!
Cookies that have special meaning during the holiday season are shortbreads. Once primarily associated with Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve), the butter-rich shortbread was traditionally made in a round shape with scalloped or notched edges that represented the sun’s rays. Heading into the December solstice and the year’s shortest, darkest day, the bright, sparkling flavour of a shortbread is a very welcome one indeed.
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Andrew Coppolino is a Kitchener-based food writer. Visit him at waterlooregioneats.com.