As you know, I’m not exactly the type of person to miss winter. But can I tell you something?
When these vanilla spice cookies bake, even in the middle of May, filling the kitchen with a fragrance sweet and filled with nostalgia, I’d swear I was walking around a Christmas market where they sell fresh-roasted cinnamon pecans wrapped in paper cones.
The kind you take in your gloved hands, the air visible in front of you as you breathe in and out, your face flushed pink.
It’s like that time last winter when my friend Becky and I drove out to Geneva, on, I swear, what must have been the coldest night ever, on the hunt for homemade candy canes and cups of hot chocolate.
After we walked up and down a street of bundled carolers and holiday decorations, our skin cracking and our noses running, what we found instead were frozen toes and fingers, even after returning to the car; a few photos of us, in the dark, standing near twinkling lights; and my first taste of a chestnut, which, in all honestly, smells a hundred times better than it tastes: hot and bland.
I don’t often feel nostalgic for nights like those, so it would take something pretty special to make me remember all the good parts: the smell of fresh popcorn from the white tent in front of one of the shops, the gleaming red and gold globes hanging from a tree, the group of musicians who played, hands exposed, as if they couldn’t even feel the freeze.
Let me tell you: these cookies are that something.
They came to me the other night, quickly, because I had the ingredients on hand and because, as icebox cookies, I figured they’d hold up well to shipping. I was planning a package for my friend Jarrelle.
You’d like Jarrelle. We met in college, I can’t remember when exactly, but she’s the kind of person that is easy to like, in a way that not many people are, and if she lived a little closer to Chicago instead of New Hampshire, I’d be going over tonight to visit and give her a big hug, which is exactly what she needs right now.
The original recipe for these cookies calls for chopped nuts, which I omitted, and the weirdest thing was that an almost nutty flavor still came through.
It’s like these cookies were all the best parts of candied pecans – the sweetness, the slight caramelizing – without the actual nuts underneath. Fresh out of the oven, they are nothing short of irresistible.
The original recipe suggests dipping the cookies in chocolate icing, so by all means try that. I, however, like them just as they are. Also, the recipe as it is yields around 80; feel free to freeze the logs to bake later, whenever the mood strikes (dough may be frozen several months).
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.