Gingerbread men are a very fine art. First there’s the right amount of ginger. Put in too little and you can’t tell what it is. Too much and you’re left politely munching away while trying to not gag. The gingerbread men I ate last night made up in full for the babysitting I did. Their secret ingredient was butterscotch pudding mix. Yum!!! Though honestly I do prefer the bite of traditional gingerbread cookies. Next on the list is how chewy the cookie is: crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside = perfection. This is a very hard balance to achieve since if you get the cookies too thin…the game is over.
However, the holiday tradition I love even more than gingerbread men is the linzer torte. It’s almond crust deliciousness plus raspberry preserves. It’s even more perfection than the ultimate gingerbread man. It’s a pain to make but it’s well worth it. If you can find someone to make it for you…so much the better. What really makes the torte though is the signature almond pastry and raspberry preserves. Don’t let anyone tell you different!
Apart from being delicious, the linzer torte packs a lot of good holiday memories for me. I associate it with a bakery in New Paltz, NY. I associate New Paltz with my dad’s parents who we would go to see every year at Christmas. When Christmas morning came around, Dad would go to a bakery of some sort to retrieve goodies for a very unhealthy breakfast as we listened to music from the Nutcracker. Afterwards, we would open gifts to the smells of Christmas dinner cooking and the sight of Christmas snow (sometimes). This is all magical nostalgia of course. One year in particular stands out in my mind however simply because that was the year Dad came home with a Linzer Torte. I’d always had a love for raspberries; we used to have a patch behind the house. But this new found pastry was the ultimate recipe for raspberry preserves. It’s sweet, tangy, nutty, and perfectly flaky all at once. How could I not fall in love? I am after all a carbaholic.
Holiday traditions are all about memories. Any tradition is really. And food is the best way to go with memory!