Everyday Cookie Day

Gingerbread cookies are everyday cookies, so make some today.
Those of us who take the time to celebrate the most delicious things in life appreciate the approach of December 4th: It’s the day we observe National Cookie Day!

This relatively minor, fairly recent holiday can be traced back to The Sesame Street Dictionary. Published by Random House in 1980, this weighty tome listed definitions of all sorts of important words, augmented with statements from the most prestigious denizens of that famous street.

The Great Wave of Cookie Monster's passion.
Midway through the dictionary, a familiar furry blue figure uttered a decree that would impact the lives of cookie enthusiasts everywhere. King Cookie, also known as “The Cookie Monster” (or more affectionately, Cookie), announced from his throne, “Me proclaim today National Cookie Day!”

Cookie Monster makes Cookie Day proclamation.
Did you know that on the TV show, Cookie Monster eats rice cakes, not cookies.
By neglect or intent, the world famous cookie connoisseur failed to specify exactly which date National Cookie Day occurred. We could only assume that Cookie meant for every day to be celebrated as National Cookie Day. And for seven sweet years, we did precisely that.

In August 1987, Matt Nader, co-founder and president of a tiny cookie company, took cookie-honoring matters into his own flour-dusted hands.

Matt and his wife Lori had started Blue Chip Cookie Company in 1983, opening their small gourmet bakery on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

Folks couldn’t get enough of Lori's creative cookies, and in four short years Blue Chip grew from a single location to thirty-five bakery stores in eight states.

During an interview, Matt told LA Times reporter Nancy Rivera Brooks that it was time for a National Cookie Day. He said that he hadn’t picked a date out yet, but figured that sometime during the holidays would be ideal, and was in fact drafting letters to his many cookie-baking rivals to help promote the day honoring his favorite baked good.

His campaign a success, National Cookie Day has been celebrated annually on December 4 ever since, leaving us cookie consumers without our excuse for a daily sweet treat.

Fortunately, reviving the Swedish tradition of Sju sorters kakor (Seven kinds of cookies) gives us enough leeway to indulge more regularly without seeming too greedy. The quaint custom of serving seven kinds of cookies on a tray dates back to the early 1800s. The tradition began with the kafferep (coffee parties for ladies) and later expanded to dinners, parties and other social gatherings. It's not for everyday, of course, just for when guests arrive (even if those guests are the sweet chickadees at the window feeder).

Why seven? No one knows for certain, but “seven” has served as a number of great significance for centuries. Seven is the number of the Wonders of the ancient world. Allah created seven heavens on top of each other; God created the world in seven days. Rome was built by seven kings; the walls of Jericho fell on the seventh day.

And Sweden gave us seven cookies (any more, too pompous; any less, too stingy) on a tray. Magical!

Anyday Gingerbread

Makes 21-49 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters

Heart-shaped gingerbread cookie.
Gingerbread cookies have been popular since early American colonial days. We like to drizzle ours with a simple rum glaze.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together at low speed flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined, about 30 seconds.

Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture resembles sand. Reduce speed to low and gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds more.

Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/4-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours.)

Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats; set aside.

Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off second parchment layer.

Using cookie cutters, cut dough into cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-lined cookie sheets spacing them 3/4 inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full.

Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to bottom halfway through baking time. Do not overbake.

Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking until all dough is used.

Rum Glaze: Stir together until smooth 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon light corn syrup, 2 teaspoons gold rum, 1 teaspoon milk and optional gel paste or powdered food coloring. If glaze seems too thick, add more milk, ½ teaspoon at a time. Drizzle over cooled cookies.