Jo’s sweet smell of success

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It is that time of year again — where the smell of cookies baking in the oven fills my house. But you all have to realize that my relationship with baking Christmas cookies goes way back and sad to say, it has been a rocky relationship at best.

From year to year, I try my damnedest not to leave anything out, but invariably, whenever it is time to put away all the ingredients I find one unfortunate item left alone, bereft, shivering, and unused on the counter.

Over the years I have experienced some disasters of epic proportions.

One year I baked with Marie. We made chocolate chip cookies without the walnuts, which wasn’t that bad, but the cream cheese cookies with out the cream cheese, well let’s just say I’ve never really lived that one down. When it came to the Mexican wedding ball cookies, I discovered that flour, confectioner’s sugar, and milk do not make a really good-tasting cookie.

There was also the year that my sister-in-law Mary and I decided to make gingerbread cookies to hang on the tree. After leaving out a hefty portion of the flour and leaving them entirely too long in the oven, even with paint and embellishments, they were unworthy of anything other than the trash bin.

So I again attempted to make the perfect batch, without leaving any of the ingredients unused. This year’s attempt was the traditional Hanukkah rugelach cookies. I Googled the simplest recipe I could find — flour, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

This particular recipe called for sour cream to be added. Not a lot, but nevertheless, sour cream. So I methodically pre-measured all the ingredients. I vowed not to leave anything out. Since there was not a lot of sour cream called for, I planned on using the same spoon and not dirtying another measuring cup. As I began following the directions, measuring, mixing and whirring, the phone rang, my husband wanted a cup of coffee, my daughter was getting ready for work and needed her uniform, and the dishwasher timer was going off. Somewhere between putting everything in, forming the dough discs, and cleaning up I discovered the sour cream all alone on the counter. It never made it into the dough.

Should I take out the dough and re-mix?

“Nah. Who would know,” I thought?

After two hours in the fridge, I took out the dough, rolled it, added the filling, cut the cookies and put them in the oven to bake. They looked beautiful.

When they came out, all golden and smelling very cinnamony, I held my breath waiting for the final verdict from the best cookie judges around, my husband and daughter.

Their verdict? Well, there wasn’t a crumb left and no one — not even myself — missed the sour cream.

Even without the sour cream the rugelach cookie has now become a family must-have right along with miracle bar cookies, Paula Deen’s “Not My Momma’s” ice box cake and cornbread pudding casserole.

Not for Nuthin™, but I think my cookie relationship is finally improving.

Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.

Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues — and cooking — every Wednesday on E-mail her at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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