Are there words to describe the joy of being surrounded by friends, family, and thousands and thousands of delicious little cookies and candies? I don’t think there are. Actually, that’s not true. A friend’s four-year-old son calls this annual gathering “Cookie Extreme.” He’s got it right.
As if the edible treats weren’t enough, we had a new baby dressed in red-and-white stripes and elfin hat to pass around and cuddle. The girls sold their handmade crafts and raised plenty of money to purchase everything hoped for by a special family in need this Christmas. And it began to snow softly as the last guests walked along the flagstone path and up the drive. My heart was full. And so was my stomach.
We had eighteen different cookies and candies to exchange. Some are old friends that make an appearance every year: Christina’s caramels (sprinkled with sea salt) and my mother’s Russian tea cakes. Others were new guests: Julie and Donna’s maple cashew brittle; Cheryl, Kate, and Cassie’s colorful melting moments; and Barb’s fudge puddles. Cookie dough truffles, chocolate peppermint thumbprints, red velvet shortbread cookies…one delectable treat after another.
I make the same cookie every year: Grandma Campobasso’s chocolate cornflake cookies. The world’s simplest cookie, but it wouldn’t be Christmas for me without them. My grandma has been making cornflake cookies for more than 50 years, and I hope I will be, too. I have a funny little story about these cookies. I was subbing at school one December day and someone’s sweet old grandmother was selling cookies in the faculty lounge. I dutifully purchased a small tub of cookies labeled “Chocolate Delights” for five dollars. Imagine my surprise when I opened the tub later and found cornflake cookies nestled inside. I’m not complaining, of course, because chocolate is chocolate and this was for a good cause. I did toy with the idea of renaming our cookies “Chocolate Delights” just to be a little fancier. But some traditions are perfect just the way they are, simple name and all.
Grandma’s Cornflake Cookies
16 ounces Hershey’s chocolate
2 squares bittersweet chocolate
6 cups cornflakes
Break up the chocolate and melt over low heat. You can use a microwave or double-boiler if you’d like. Pour in the cornflakes and stir until the cornflakes are completely covered in chocolate. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto buttered cookie sheets.
That’s the official recipe, but I always find myself improvising a bit. This year I used an entire gigantic box of cornflakes and about 10 big 7 oz. Hershey bars (purchased for under two dollars each at Walmart). I like the cornflakes completely covered in chocolate, but I don’t like them too “soupy.” So I keep adding cornflakes until the mixture reaches just the right consistency. This batch yielded about 170 cookies, which was more than enough to cover the 12 dozen I needed for the exchange and leave some extras for us to nibble on.