Christmas just isn’t the same without cookies. I have so many warm, wonderful memories of baking cookies at Christmas – whether it was my Grandma slapping my hand as I tried to steal yet more butter cookie dough (she was right, I got a belly ache) or the festive gingerbread shapes with mom that we made both to eat and to decorate the tree. Forget fruitcake. We all know that cookies rule the holiday season. Well aside, from gingerbread houses – click to see last year’s spectacular endeavor. It helps to have ‘Nani’ visit… With no cookie motivation of my own so far this year, I was thrilled that Violet and I were invited to my friend Dominique’s house for a night of family cookie making. Yes, you remember Dominique – maker of the mouth-watering Apricot Basil Tarts. Dominique and her husband Tom are Czech, and the recipes we made are traditional and delicious! And when I say ‘we’ made them, that’s a complete lie. Really Dominique and Tom made all the dough and we just weaseled in on the baking and eating! Linecke Dortičky (butter cookie ‘sandwiches’ with jam in between) Flour, Sugar, Lemon Zest, Egg Let’s start with the relatively pronouncable Linecke Dortičky – butter cookies, people! They taste so much like my Grandma’s butter cookies I actually got goose bumps and had to put my hand to my heart, (not because of a butter clogged aorta.) This recipe was a little different than I’m used to, with the added step of gluing two cookies together with jam to make the final product. Dough rolled very thin. Somtimes it takes three preschoolers to cut a cookie. Or one very determined one…here’s Dominique helping Violet. Fresh out of the oven. The girls made them into sandwiches – for about forty-two seconds, then Andrea and I made the rest. Rohličky (Walnut Crescents) Flour, Sugar, Butter, Walnuts, Lemon Zest, Vanilla Extract These crumbly sensations are all about the rich nut flavor. I remember a similar recipe from my childhood made with almonds, and this version is just as tasty, rich and filling. Plus, you get to roll them in sugar while they’re still warm so they get a velvety texture. Medredí Pracný (Bear Paws) Flour, Sugar, Cocao, Lemon Zest, Cloves, Cinnamon, Walnut, Secret Ingredient (wait, what? Damn!) These are fantastic chocolatey walnut treats – similar in crumbliness to the Rohličky, but with a fragrant, spiced flavor, and pressed into Madeleine forms. Also rolled in sugar! Vosi Hnízda (Bee Hives with Rum Butter) Dough: Vanilla wafer breadcrumbs, Powdered Sugar, Milk, Butter Rum Buttercream: Butter, yolks, Sugar, Rum – cocoa for the dark ones Tom made these. They’re little bee hives formed with moist wafer-y dough that doesn’t bake, but is filled with buttery cream! Some have cocoa in them and some don’t, creating a range of aesthetically pleasing hues. Tom also lent me his 50ml prime lens so I could take lovely close-ups like this. He pressed the dough into the forms, made a hole with the end of a wooden spoon and filled it with butter cream. The final construction was placing a vanilla wafer on the bottom, then popping the whole thing out. Perfect! Thanks so much to our wonderful hosts. It was such a joy to spend a Christmassy evening making cookies with you while the hellions ran around naked. I did indeed go home with a bellyache. Hooray!