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Holiday Cookies

Shake up your holiday baking this year! Do a little of the unexpected.

Adding a sprinkle of salt to the top of your cookies before baking takes them to a new level of flavor.

Do you get tired of making the same cookies, year after year, even though they are delicious? I love my chocolate chunk, oatmeal and ginger molasses cookies but I wanted to shake it up a bit this holiday season. I got out my cookbooks. Yes, real cookbooks, not an online site that has 45,000 choices. I wanted a recipe from someone I trusted, that meant something. I started flipping through Victuals by Ronni Lundy, which is a joy no matter what. I came across her recipe for nutmeg cookies, made with cornmeal and buttermilk. Wow, now that is different, I thought. I happened to have all the ingredients, so I made a batch right away. Oh my! They were good and only lasted a few hours.
Earlier this month I attended an event in Tennessee, The Grits and Grains Festival. I had to take food to sample that reflected my product and the region. A local farmer had given me some dried culinary lavender this summer and I wanted to use it. I substituted lavender for the nutmeg and sprinkled the dough with salt before baking. The results were amazing. People raved about them and many asked for the recipe. I’ve included Ronni’s original and put my substitutions at the bottom. Enjoy! Either version will be sure to impress those who get to eat them.

Nutmeg Cookies, by Ronni Lundy from Victuals
Makes about 18 cookies

6 TBS unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ tightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ cup whole buttermilk
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Arrange two oven racks in top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter and brown sugar together in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg and buttermilk. The mixture will look lumpy and not well blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Add this a third at a time to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix well after each addition.
Drop heaping tablespoonsful of the batter onto the baking sheets. Leave about 2 inches between each one, as the cookies will spread.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, turning trays once, until edges of cookies are brown. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before storing or serving. They do store well in a tightly sealed container for several days.

For salted lavender cookies:
Substitute a scant tablespoon of dried lavender for the nutmeg.
After dropping the cookies on the baking sheet sprinkle the top of each one with J.Q. Dickinson Heirloom finishing salt.

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