Peppermint Kiss Cookies

My sister Sharon and I are very close, but we are never more cosmically connected than during the holidays. Our shared love of Christmas has always been a great source of sisterly joy for us.

Today I’m feeling nostalgic for Christmas Past, for a time when Sharon and I lived under the same roof. In the last ten years our lives have gradually become less entwined as we each went off to college, spent years abroad, lived in different countries, fell in love, got married, and started our own families in different states. But no matter where we were, we’d make it together for some part of the holidays. And I think this is the first year we won’t see each other at all.

This past August, Sharon and Anthony moved to Atlanta to pursue their dream jobs, Anthony a pastor at a vibrant, progressive Presbyterian Church, and Sharon as Special Projects Coordinator at Atlanta’s Outreach and Advocacy Center. As a family, we cheered them on as they packed up their lives in New Haven and headed for Georgia. But as Christmas approaches, I’m feeling a little lonely.

Just as my dad and mom have always been wonderfully tied to their church community during the Christmas holidays, so will Anthony and Sharon need to be in Atlanta at their church, with their community, for Christmas. I want nothing more than for them to be with this wonderful group of people, deepening their roots and relationships there, but it means she and I will not be sitting hand-in-hand all misty-eyed in the living room by the fire and a glowing tree listening to Chanticleer’s “In the Bleak Midwinter.” And that’s hard.

So here are some holiday cookies that make me smile. Mom’s brainchild, of course, but certainly the kind of cookies Sharon and I would have baked together. Here’s sending a holiday kiss to you, Sharon.

Peppermint Kiss Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies

1 whole egg, plus 1 yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
36 peppermint kisses

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix egg, yolk, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl. Mix flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add egg mixture; mix on low speed until well incorporated. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until dough forms. Beat in crushed peppermint.
Divide dough into thirty-six rounded tablespoon portions, rolling each into a ball. Working in batches, arrange 12 cookie dough balls on a large silpat- or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and puffed. Remove cookies from oven, gently pressing a peppermint kiss into each one. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough balls and kisses. (Can be stored in a tin for a week or sealed and frozen up to 1 month.