Simpler Times And A Cookie That Tastes Like Christmas

In this fast paced contemporary world of glass and steel, of iPhones and laptop computers, it is sometimes nice to reflect back on simpler times. If you were able to visit my home during this holiday period and step into the parlor (which would be referred to today as a living room), perhaps you could imagine a simple Christmas celebration. Years ago, a visitor to our home would have been brought into this Georgian style room, offered something to drink and usually given a piece of cake or some cookies that had all the tastes and smells of Christmas.

The Parlor As It May Have Looked

The Parlor As It May Have Looked

The Parlor On A Sunny Day

The Parlor On A Sunny Day

Parlor Christmas Tree

Parlor Christmas Tree Decorated With Cloth And Wooden Ornaments And Candy Canes

Presents Under The Tree

Presents Under The Tree

Since I can only share the room with you through photos, I thought that I would give you a recipe for a cookie that my husband says “tastes like Christmas”. It is a very simple fruit and nut cookie that can be served simply as I have done here or dressed up with a glaze. Either way, these small cookies are delicious with a cup of tea or a glass of milk.

Brandied Fruit And Nut Cookies

Brandied Fruit And Nut Cookies

Brandied Fruit and Nut Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Β 1/3 c. brandy (I used Calvados apple brandy)
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 1/2 c. orange flavored Craisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 c. dried apricots, chopped in small pieces
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Mix the fruit and brandy in a bowl and let marinate for 10 minutes. Cream together the brown sugar, butter, eggs and spices. Drain the brandy from the fruit into the sugar mixture and stir. Mix in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the reserved fruit and nuts.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until the cookies are light brown. Place cookies on cooling rack. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

If you wish to glaze the cookies mix 2 c. of powdered sugar, 2 to 3 Tbsp. brandy and 1 tsp. vanilla together and dip the tops of the cookies into glaze and let dry.


A Relaxing Spot In The Parlor

A Relaxing Spot In The Parlor

During the winter, my home’s historic parlor is a lovely place to spend some time with a book as sun shines through the windows for most of the day…that is unless it is snowing. This is winter in New England. No matter the weather, sitting in the parlor with a cookie that tastes like Christmas always reminds me of simpler times.

About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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130 Responses to Simpler Times And A Cookie That Tastes Like Christmas

  1. Mad Dog says:

    I bet they taste good with calvados in them πŸ™‚

  2. Old fashioned cookies with beautiful traditional decor is perfect πŸ™‚

    Choc Chip Uru

  3. ChgoJohn says:

    Your home is beautiful on any given day, Karen. At Christmas it is truly special. And these cookies with their brandied icing? Such a wonderful treat for the weary traveler, sitting in your parlor. A very nice post.

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, Thank you for your compliment. I love the flavor of these cookies…the brandy and fruit make them special. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Sue says:

    Wow, Karen, that flooring is gorgeous! Love how it just “glows”. Beautiful room. I’d love to sit in there on a sunny day.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, I’m glad you like the floors, we think they are beautiful. They are original to the home…old heart pumpkin pine. When we had our home restored, every floor board was numbered, taken up, the beams replaced and put back down.

  5. What a lovely story and yummy cookie to keep us warm through the season….

  6. viveka says:

    A lovely and very reflection post. Your photos are gorgeous. I think Christmas had total different values in those days. And the cookies are all mine – those ones I will do one day. They are full of goodness.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Viveka, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and photos. I agree that Christmas had different values…especially when our home was built almost three hundred years ago. I have enjoyed our Christmases that we have spent in Germany and Austria, where Christmas eve and Christmas day is more about the religious meaning than about how many presents are under the tree. I think you will enjoy the cookies…they are one of my favorites.

  7. Beautiful parlor and mmmmmmmm…………….those cookies look fantastic – like little bitty fruit cakes!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kelli, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of the parlor…I think it is special with all the beautiful woodwork. Until you mentioned that the cookies were like “little bitty fruit cakes”, I never thought that might be one of the reasons that I love them so much. They have everything that is good in a fruitcake and none of what people don’t like about it. They are light and full of fruit, nuts and spices.

  8. pam2626 says:

    Really nice place! I could live there.

  9. Charles says:

    Hi Karen – lovely photos, to accompany some equally lovely, “Christmassy” cookies. I love your rocking chair… really want one but don’t have the space here… one day, one day!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charles, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. The cookies are one of my favorites and I make them every Christmas. I’m crazy about rocking chairs…they are so relaxing. I’ve been known to rock myself asleep on occasion. I felt this chair was perfect for the room when I found it at an antique store.

  10. Norma Chang says:

    Such a cozy and beautiful parlor. I can see sitting in the rocking chair with a book. Apple brandy in the cookies, I will take a dozen please, thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Norma, for your lovely compliment. I do enjoy the parlor, especially in the winter as it gets so much nice sunshine. I think you will need a dozen of these cookies…they are very hard to resist.

  11. Your home is lovely and reminds me of “Little Women” for some reason which is a very good thing.!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, Thank you for your nice compliment. I can see why my home would remind you of the book “Little Women”. Louisa May Alcott lived in Massachusetts and wrote period books that have many similarities to what would have been experienced by the previous owners of our home.

  12. A_Boleyn says:

    Your home is so elegant, Karen. It’s like a museum capturing the finest elements of the 19th century at Christmas time. I can imagine entering the front door to the smell of the cookies coming out of the oven ready to be served to friends and family.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Boleyn, for your lovely compliment. I really did want people to see our home as someone would have if they had visited centuries ago. Our home is considered to be a museum quality restoration and we do love living here. I think these cookies would have been enjoyed by previous visitors to our home.

  13. Sarah says:

    What a gorgeous post…needed this tonight Karen, thank you! It’s lovely, and those cookies are perfect too. Yum!

  14. reg45 says:

    What a beautiful place you have! I intend to make these cookies very soon. How far ahead do you usually make them? Do they freeze? Or do you store them in a tin?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Reg, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of our home. These cookies are so easy to make and store well. I made this particular batch yesterday for a party this Sunday (4 days). I store them in inexpensive plastic storage boxes (Ziploc) and they keep for weeks. I have also frozen them with great success. I think you will enjoy them…I make them every Christmas. I would make them all the time but I would eat them all the time. LOL.

  15. A great treat to get the festive season kicked off!

  16. Eha says:

    [Am smiling!]. The language we use πŸ™‚ ! Oh, I had arrived in Australia early enough to know the word ‘parlour’ [sorry for the extra vowel; we Colonials are peculiar πŸ˜‰ !]. But now it is ‘precious’ to call it a ‘sitting-room’ ot a ‘reception-room’ and we oft just settle for ‘lounge’ on our house plans! But I do love your recipe for ‘cookies’ which we would call ‘bikkies’ . . . yes, well, hope you are smiling too πŸ™‚ !

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eha, I have heard that sitting room, reception room and lounge are also used. It is interesting to learn of different words depending on where you live. Bikkies is new to me. I always enjoy your comments and appreciate your visits.

      • Eha says:

        [Still smiling] Australians have a rather dreadful habit of abbreviating many words: thus ‘biscuits’ [our way of saying ‘cookies’: a word we know but hardly use] become ‘bikkies’ πŸ™‚ ! Christmas becomes ‘Chrissie’, the island of Tasmania ‘Tassie’, present ‘pressie’, barbecue ‘barbie’ etc et al: actually yours truly does try to avoid!!

      • Karen says:

        I love more of your examples of how Australians abbreviate so many of words. I’m always learning from you…thanks.

  17. Little traditions always brighten up holidays!
    These cookies look fabulous…. Beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Reem, I agree with you about the holidays being filled with traditions. I think it is one of the reasons we look forward to them. I love making these cookies for my Christmas party each year.

  18. Tandy says:

    Your parlour is beautiful! For me, having a tablet makes my life so much easier Karen πŸ™‚ lovely looking cookies

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your compliment, Tandy. Tablets and laptops have definitely given us flexibility and freedom…I don’t know what I would do without them. I’m glad you like the cookies…I think they are delicious.

  19. Bonnie says:

    Karen, I enjoyed the photos of your home. After doing a 5 year restoration on an old home myself, I really appreciate your attention to detail. There is a certain stewardship that comes with owning such a place and you are fulfilling that stewardship magnificently. Your home is lovely and the cookies look divine.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Bonnie, for your lovely compliment. Yes, you can definitely understand the undertaking to do a ground up restoration. It took years for our project to be completed as well. Most people would have torn the house down and built new. It is a pleasure to own such a wonderful piece of history. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and recipe.

  20. Love the idea for a mouthful of Christmas in a biscuit. Your house is looking wonderful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Roger, The little cookies or biscuits as so many people call them really to taste like Christmas. It is starting to look like Christmas at our house. Tomorrow is our annual Christmas party…when the whole house will look, sound and smell like Christmas.

  21. I so want to be in your parlour with some needlepoint in my hands, sipping tea and nibbling those gorgeous cookies!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tanya, It is a lovely room for doing just that. It is one of the few rooms in our home that has such lovely light for hours in winter. Thank you for your lovely comment.

  22. Anonymous says:

    How very beautiful is your home! And thank you for the lovely recipe as well. both are treats.

  23. Such lovely, warm photos…and a VERY Christmasy cookie!
    I could do with a bit of snow for next week…JUST a bit, mind you. πŸ˜‰

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marie, Thank you…I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. We are having our annual Christmas party tomorrow and three inches of snow…it never fails to snow on the day of the party. With our cold weather and the forecast for off and on snow, I think we will have a white Christmas. I hope you get “just a little bit” as well. Just enough to make it pretty and white for Christmas.

  24. My Kitchen Stories says:

    Oh yes I think your husband would be right beautiful old fashioned cookies so easy to make yet so delicious

  25. Your home has so many cozy places. I bet those cookies are chewy and addictive. I don’t know if storing them in the freezer would keep me out of the cookie jar.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bam, Our house does have a coziness about it. And yes, the cookies are addictive…I ate several right from the cooling rack. They don’t last long, that is for sure.

  26. Eva Taylor says:

    They sure sound Christmassy too Karen.

  27. You have a really beautiful house and you decorate so festive and well. Nuts and brandied fruit are super baked together!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Angie, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of our home decorated for Christmas. I agree about brandied fruits and nuts being wonderful in baked goods. I love them in these cookies and in the fruit cake that I make each year.

  28. Such a simple, yet elegant cookie. I’m going to have to make these for my husband very soon.

  29. Love seeing your photos, such a delightful home. I can see why your cookies taste like Christmas, all those wonderful ingredients!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos…are house is different from most peoples home because of its age. I agree that the all the ingredients in these cookies are what you think of when preparing Christmas recipes.

  30. Susan says:

    Beautiful parlor, Karen! After finally seeing Lincoln last night, your parlor could have been used for a set in the movie πŸ™‚

    Your cookies sound delicious!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Susan, for your compliment. I think Lincoln would have felt comfortable if he had ever had a chance to be in our parlor. He visited his son who went to prep school less than 15 miles away and I’m sure visited homes that were similar ours. The cookies are delicious…I love them.

  31. Nice looking parlour πŸ™‚

  32. ambrosiana says:

    Your house looks beautiful!! I bet those cookies wrap up the best Xmas taste!! Lovely post Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ambrosiana, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I do love decorating our home for Christmas. Traditional cookies are always part of our holiday celebrations and these are one of my favorites. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  33. Those cookies sound delicious & the parlor is so inviting & cozy. I think I’d have a hard time leaving that room.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, The brandied fruit and nut cookies really are delicious. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of our parlor. Thank you for your compliment.

      • Definitely a very cozy room. And just wanted to let you know – I tried your meatloaf recipe & yes! Success… my usual brick & we both loved it. Thank you for that one so no more meatloaf bricks.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Diane, I’m happy that there will no longer be any meatloaf bricks in your home now that you have tried my meatloaf recipe. I appreciate you letting me know that you enjoyed my recipe for meatloaf. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of our parlor. Thank you for your nice comment.

  34. Hi Karen, those cookies look like goodness themselves and your parlor, so cozy!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Mater, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos and the cookie recipe. The cookies are terrific…I love them.

  35. petit4chocolatier says:

    Karen, your home is beautiful any day of the year! Now back to that incredible brandy recipe.
    Fruit marinating in brandy for cookies sounds incredible. And then adding brandy again to the glaze is even better!!

    I hope you don’t mind if I reblog your link on my reblog page?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Judy, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and the recipe. It is so sweet and thoughtful for you to link to the brandied cookie recipe on your reblog page. I really do appreciate it.

  36. I don’t believe I’ve ever had Calvados in cookies before! Nice touch. As are the cookies – they really do taste like Christmas. (Well, at least I imagine they do, not having actually tasted them.) The second picture of your parlor has such a nice creamy, dreamy look to it – great photo!

  37. twbarritt says:

    Thanks for the photo tour! I would love to step into your parlor for a visit and taste of these delectable looking cookies. It’s exactly the way I would want to spend Christmas! Hope you are enjoying the holiday preparations!

    • Karen says:

      Hi T.W., I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the tour. Wish we were a neighbor and I could invite you in for some cookies. I am enjoying the season and looking forward to Christmas and New Years. I hope you are as well.

  38. Sissi says:

    Karen, every time you show us a bit of your house I cannot stop thinking how beautiful it is. I appreciate old buildings so much more to the modern ones, even though often it means some “technical” problems. Old buildings (whether they are houses or buildings with flats) have a soul and that’s it.
    These cookies looks deliciously old-fashioned too with the dried fruit and calvados. You have just reminded me that I never buy calvados! I should start at least using it in cooking.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sissi, I’m glad that you enjoy the photos that I post occasionally showing our home. It is nice to know that you appreciate the old buildings like we do. They do have a soul and a history. I often wonder about the first families and their lives in this house. It couldn’t have been easy in the earliest part of our country’s history. The cookies are simple and perfect either as a bite of something sweet after a meal or with a cup of of tea in the afternoon. I learned to enjoy calvados during my travels in Normandy. It is perfect in recipes using fruit and chocolate.

  39. Kristy says:

    Your parlor is beautiful Karen! I love how you’ve decorated it to reflect the period. Your cookies do sound like they taste like Christmas. They would be perfect with a good book and blanket in that rocker!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your compliment, Kristy. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of the parlor. We do have a newer portion to our home where I decorate in a more traditional way but I like to decorate our historical rooms much the way they would have been years before.

  40. Dried fruits and spices always remind me of Christmas too, Karen. Our lives certainly have changed in the last 20 years. Many of the services I pay dearly for didn’t exist 20 years ago. It would be nice to lead a more simple life but we have grown so dependent upon our computers and cell-phones. I think we are stuck with progress.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, Yes…dried fruits and certain spices are so so reflective of what we consider Christmas dishes. I agree with you about the wonder of the portability of our computers and cell phones. I have been able to travel to Europe twice and within our country and still be able to share new posts about where I am at the time. With all that is modern and hard to do without, I still like the comfort of living in a small town and our historic home. I left a very active lifestyle in a very trendy city for this simpler life and love it.

  41. Hi Karen! Your cookies look so lovely and delicious! It’s a great way to start the Christmas treats πŸ˜‰ I once soaked my raisins in rum and forgot all about it, so I ended up making Rum ‘n Raisins Cookies with them. Simply amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jasline, Thank you for your nice compliment…I’m glad you like the cookies. I have soaked raisins, cranberries and other dried fruits in rum in pretty canning jars for a long period of time. I then have then used them in baking as well as toppings for ice cream and cakes. I have also used the infused rum in a brandy glass as an after dinner drink. I’m sure you Rum ‘n Raisins Cookies were delicious.

  42. Jane says:

    Your house is gorgeous, and it really does take you back to simpler times!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Jane, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. You can’t help but think of the simpler times spent by families that have lived in our home for almost three hundred years.

  43. mjskit says:

    What gorgeous pictures of your parlor! I love the way you changed some to black and white to give the feel of days gone by. It works quite well! I can definitely see how these cookies would be called a Christmas cookie! They are like little bites of fruitcake which is something I love by the way! πŸ™‚ Lovely post!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you MJ, for your lovely compliment. There is something about photos in black and white that makes them feel like they are from the past. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. You are right…the cookies do have similar ingredients in fruitcake which I love as well. I made a fruitcake that is getting brushed with rum every few days until Christmas.

  44. I love desserts with brandy, what lovely cookies!

  45. That’s a very beautiful room – you are certainly a lucky lady to own it.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Suzanne, for your lovely compliment. I am a lucky lady but if you had seen the room before it was restored, you might have said I was crazy instead of lucky.

  46. Sophie33 says:

    What truly appetizing cookies! i love the added brandy in here: Love it!!

  47. Love your house! And those cookies look well worth a try – brandied fruit – yum.

  48. lulu says:

    Simpler times are good, and it’s easy to imagine you having those in your NH environs.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Living in a small rural town in New Hampshire leads to a simpler way of life…not that I don’t want and enjoy all the modern conveniences as well.

  49. Looks yummy! I have some dried cranberries here too that are leftover from the Cookie Takedown. It looks like I will be making more cookies πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recipe, Karen!

  50. spree says:

    Your home so beautifully connects to those yearned-for times gone by. A lovely post, a beautiful home, a great little Christmas cookie! Thanks Karen for the visit!

  51. Juliana says:

    Great pictures of your home Karen, and the cookies look so tempting, cannot go wrong with fruit and nuts…yum!
    Have a wonderful week my dear πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Juliana, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the photos of our home…thank you for your compliment. The brandied fruit and nut cookies are very good…I love them. I hope you have a lovely week as well.

  52. Carolyn Chan says:

    Your home looks so warm and inviting !

  53. a cookie that tastes like christmas! I need that. That way I can eat it all year long and always be in the christmas mood:)

  54. Lovely post, Karen, and lovely Christmas cookies, too. πŸ™‚

  55. Katerina says:

    It is so comforting to make something that tastes like Christmas! Beautiful cookies and beautiful photos Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Katerina, for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of our home. I do associate these cookies with Christmas even though they would be delicious anytime of the year.

  56. Ruth says:

    The cookies look like Christmas, too! I’d say make ornaments out of them, but they’re probably too delicious to last very long on the tree πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I’m glad that you think the cookies look like Christmas. I’m afraid if I used them on my tree…it would be bare soon as I ate three with tea this morning. LOL.

  57. lvaletutto says:

    You have such a lovely home Karen! And in black and white it looks like it could be from another era. Your cookies sound yummy too!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I thought the black and white photos did the same thing. The cookies are a favorite at Christmas, I’m happy you like them. Thank you for your compliment.

  58. I would call this an old fashioned fruit and nut cookie. I remember my grandmother making these and they sure seem right at home in your parlor yesterday or today! How lovely!

  59. Love the black and whites of the house. So classic.

    And go ahead and pass some of those cookies my way please!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jed, I’m glad you enjoyed the black and white photos. It seemed to give them a feel of times gone by. I’d better pass the cookie plate before I eat them all…they are going fast. Thank you for your nice comment.

  60. Tessa says:

    Beautiful cookies and I love how you decorated your home. Gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Tessa, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad that you have enjoyed the photos of our home decorated at Christmas. The cookies are a tradition that we enjoy each Christmas.

  61. Conor Bofin says:

    Lovely cookies and an excellent parlour. It seems somehow wrong to be posting a comment using an iPad from the other side of the world.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Conor, Thank you for your nice compliment. Are you traveling with your IPad? I have taken mine to Europe but had some problems. Now I take my laptop when traveling…heavier but no problems.

      • Conor Bofin says:

        Yes, the iPad has it’s issues. No good for posting on WP at all. Useless as a camera. One also looks like a dork taking pictures with it. I find I use mine most for listening to world radio during sleepless nights.

      • Karen says:

        I loved my IPad until I started my blog. Now I basically use it for downloading books when I have a chance to read except the blog doesn’t leave me much chance for that either. I haven’t discovered the world radio…I have sleepless nights, as well.

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