Personally, I’m not a huge “almond flavour” person. I hate marzipan! My caveat however is this recipe! I LOVE these cookies. There is just something about them that is so delicious and not overly sweet. Traditionally, this recipe would call for the use of lard. For obvious reasons, lard would not work for me. The compromise here is to use half butter/margarine and half Crisco/vegetable shortening. You can use 100% of either, instead of a mix, but I find the mix works best. This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.
2 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup Crisco or vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons almond extract
6-10 drops yellow food colouring (optional)
48 almonds or almond slivers
1 egg (for egg wash)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together into a bowl. Cut in the butter/margarine until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg, almond extract and food colouring. Mix well.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Set them 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a floured glass, gently press down the cookies to flatten them, to about a ¼ inch. I don’t suggest using your fingers, as they will leave grooves in the cookie that the egg wash will settle in. Place an almond on top of each cookie and press down to slightly. Brush each cookie lightly with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Enjoy!
So we’ve already talked about how it’s “traditional” for Jews to go out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve… but what else is there to do? Admittedly, it’s a strange feeling being surrounded by hoards of people all bursting with the holiday spirit, but for me, it’s just a Wednesday. Kind of a let down, no? I get a little jealous when I see the bubbles of joy floating around people as they walk down the street, wearing Santa hats. I like to think that if I celebrated the holiday, I’d go all out! I’d have my tree and Santa hat out by the end of Thanksgiving.
Then I start to think. You know what? I really have nothing to be jealous of. Feelings of goodwill are not limited by religion. Yes, I live in North America, where Christianity is the main religion, and that means that everywhere I go, those are the holidays that will be displayed and celebrated. But that doesn’t mean that MY holidays are ignored. In Toronto, come RoshHaShannah, Bathurst Street (one of the main thoroughfares of the city) is bedecked in signs wishing everyone a happy new year, and there are ads posted selling schach (leafy roof covering for the Sukkah during the holiday of Sukkot), on every telephone pole. This time of year, there is the annual Chanukah caravan parade, that drives through the main streets of town blaring music and cars decked out with Menorahs lit up on their roofs.
So what does this all mean? It means that even though we are not celebrating tonight, it doesn’t mean that we won’t get our chance. We thank G-d for living in a land such as Canada, where there is the freedom to worship as you desire, and that everyone gets the opportunity to feel that bubble of goodwill; be it tonight, or back in September.