Cookies are the sweet, savory, crunchy and chewy little bites of comfort and joy that define the holiday season.
We send them to friends and relatives. We leave them out for Santa. Heck, even the Grinch thought that it wasn’t Christmas without cookies.
Almost every nationality, ethnicity and religious faith has a traditional treat for those long winter nights. Polish Jews have rugelach with an endless array of nut and fruit fillings; in Greek Orthodox homes you’ll find buttery kourambiedes; and shortbread rules in Britain.
Here are special holiday treats from local bakeries, plus a tasty gluten-free recipe to try yourself.
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“We make our brown sugar shortbread cookies year-round, but this time of year they’re decorated with a Christmas theme,” said Morgan Peters, general manager at Mount Bakery, with locations downtown and in Fairhaven.
Peters said the lightly frosted shortbread is cut into seasonal shapes, such as snowflakes, bells, stockings and gingerbread men.
“We do make a fabulous Yule log,” she said, describing the traditional loaf as a gluten-free chocolate cake adorned with meringue mushrooms, pomegranate seeds and sprigs of rosemary.
Peters said another seasonal treat is Linzer cookies, a hazelnut-flavored shortbread with a raspberry marmalade center. Earlier this month, they were cut in the shape of an eight-pointed star.
If customers need larger quantities or can’t find what they want in the store, Peters said special orders will be accepted until Dec. 20.
• Address: 308 W. Champion St., downtown Bellingham; 217 Harris Ave., Fairhaven. Phone: 360-715-2195; 360-778-1261. Online:The Mount Bakery on Facebook.
Pure Bliss Desserts
“We’ll be doing star shapes for our shortbread cookies (with butter cream topping),” said Lacey Mills at Pure Bliss. “And we’ll be offering some of our winter seasonal cookies.”
Cold-weather selections include Molasses Spice and traditional snickerdoodle cookies, Mills said.
“It’s kind of like a molasses-and-ginger cookie,” she said. “The snickerdoodle is our baker’s own recipe, it’s extra cinnamon-sugary.”
They’ll also have eggnog cake and traditional Yule logs by special order.
• Address: 1424 Cornwall Ave. Phone: 360-739-1612. Online:pureblissdesserts.com
“We are a cupcake shop so we won’t be doing cookies, just cupcakes, “ said Renae Cory, the owner at Mad Batter.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the holiday spirit.
“We will be doing eggnog, pumpkin spice, candy cane and gingerbread cupcakes,” Cory said. “We will also have the option to special order ‘pup cakes’ for doggies.”
• Address: 1005 Harris Ave. Phone: 360-393-4632. Online:madbattercnc.com
Lynden Dutch Bakery
“Our specialty is a Dutch tradition called oliebollen,” said Lynden Dutch Bakery owner Heather Bradford.
Oliebollen is a sweet doughnut-like confection of Dutch and Belgian origin (literally, “oil spheres”) made to appease evil spirits centuries ago.
“It’s only made historically in December,” Bradford said. “Those are our top winter specialties,” in addition to almond sticks and almond paste, she said.
• Address: 421 Front St. Phone: 360-354-3911. Online:facebook.com/LyndenDutchBakery
To bake at home
Dr. Jean Layton, a Bellingham naturopath, sent this recipe for Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate Crème from her website, Gluten-Free Doctor.com. Some of the ingredients take a bit of effort, but it’s a rich and satisfying sandwich cookie spiced with ginger, cardamom, cloves, allspice and a bit of pepper.