Blog Hanukkah Cookies
There are many things I love about this time of year, but the ever-shrinking days and lengthening nights are not among them. I comfort myself with the thought that, with the winter solstice just a few short weeks away, the trend will soon reverse. And as compensation for coming home from work in the dark, I'm treated to the sight of holiday lights in windows and on lawns all around town. From small, twinkly white lights to all-out festive multicolored displays, they make dark winter more cheerful and inviting.
For the celebration of Hanukkah, which begins in just a few days, lights are more than just a decorating scheme, they are the holiday's raison d'etre—Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights. For those unfamiliar with the story, in the second century BCE, Syrians desecrated the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and forced the Jews to worship Greek gods. The Jews fought back and reclaimed the Temple, but it had been ransacked. In order to rededicate the Temple, they needed to keep the menorah lit, yet they could find only a small jar of oil, barely enough for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, until they could procure more. Here's a good place to learn more about the origin and traditions of Hanukkah.
The foods traditionally eaten to commemorate this holiday are fried in oil, like latkes or sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). But baking and decorating sugar cookies cut into symbolic shapes has become a beloved part of the celebration of Hanukkah in many households as well. The recipe I used here is a sour cream dough that makes a generous amount of slightly soft and cakey cookies. I used shapes from our Hanukkah cookie cutters — the Judaica cookie set — and iced them with royal icing. For the Star of David cookie I created a marbleized effect by drizzling white royal icing over blue while both were still wet, and running the tip of a paring knife through the lines. I highlighted the menorah on the Kiddush Cup with luster dust to give it shine and piped symbols on the Dreidel cookie. Happy Hanukkah!
I hope you have as much fun decorating your cookies as I did.