Look, I tried. To the best of my ability, I attempted to hold off the holiday season until next month. It’s only mid-November, and nobody really wants to be bombarded with Christmas recipes yet. But through a (misguided) desire to review my copy of Nigella Christmas on Kitchlit, I accidentally opened the floodgates. Because reviewing means recipe-testing, and recipe-testing means recipe-posting. So here I am, waving the white, red and green flag in surrender: it’s started. Bring on Christmas!
These days, it’s not that cool to like Christmas, is it? We’re meant to spend the weeks leading up to December 25th complaining about it, rather than celebrating it. It starts too early, it’s too commercial, it has no meaning anymore, it isn’t inclusive enough. Though I don’t consider myself a particularly Christmas-centric person, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favourite times of year. Yes, it’s stressful as anything, but all the worry takes a back seat when there’s a blanket of snow outside, a cheesy holiday special on TV, and the smell of pine needles, candles and home baking in the air.
I should own up- Christmas is on my mind today for a specific reason. Tomorrow, Toronto will host the 105th annual Santa Claus Parade, a Christmas tradition I regrettably won’t be enjoying this year. I used to watch this parade every November as a child, and understood it as the harbringer of the holiday season. I’d sit (far too close to the TV), and watch the whole spectacle in giddy excitement.
The parade was still a part of my holiday celebrations years later, when I moved to Toronto for university. My best friend and I never went to watch it in person (what, in the cold?) but still took it as a sign that Christmas was upon us. We’d put on some festive music, hang the red cranberry wreath on our apartment door, switch on our fibreoptic Christmas tree (hey- don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), and settle on the couch, homemade mochas in hand, to watch the parade.
So when I found the flat completely bereft of anything sweet yesterday, I wanted to bake something that would fit my mood. I realise that oatmeal cookies hardly seem Christmassy -at least not in the way that gingersnaps or shortbread would- but I’ve always loved them. The crisp-chewy texture is crowd-pleasing, and the presence of oats make them feel more wholesome than other kinds of cookies (if only). These ones have just enough festive colour (white chocolate, red cranberries and green pistachio) to seem seasonally appropriate.
If you’re not quite ready to ring in the season yet, consider using pecans or walnuts instead of pistachios. The original recipe called for pecans, and while I think the pistachios add a certain festive charm, I bet they’d be just as good with another nut. Meanwhile, I’ll be enjoying these as-is, and watching clips of my parade on YouTube.
- Holiday Oatmeal Cookies
- adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson
- makes 30 cookies
- 150g plain flour
75g rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g dark brown sugar
80g caster sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
75g dried cranberries
75g shelled pistachios, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Prepare 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper (or be prepared to bake in batches, if you only have one.)
2. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl (or a stand mixer), cream the butter and sugars together for 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine.
4. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions, beating after each one to combine. Finally, fold in the white chocolate, cranberries and pistachios.
5. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough with your hands (a messy job- the dough will be sticky) and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie for spread. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies are pale gold in colour. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.