How NOT to Make Christmas Cookies

Dec 23, 2022 | by Lynn Freer, Donor

A Grandmother's Story of a Christmas Tradition Gone Awry

Making cookies with children is one of the joys of Christmas. While bonding with your grandchildren is truly a gift, it also teaches them creativity and ingenuity. But in my case, a few years ago, it taught them to laugh about failure.

In early December, my grandchildren were staying with me for the weekend and we decided to make candy cane Christmas cookies. You make the dough, divide it into two parts and add red food coloring to half of the dough. You roll the dough into ropes, intertwine them, and shape the dough into candy canes. The next step is to sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy.

Our main obstacle was: How to crush the candy. I didn’t think about the blender but decided it would be a good idea to put the candy canes in freezer bags and bang them with a hammer. The kids thought this was a grand idea and took turns whacking the bags with an old hammer. I had to keep a good watch to make sure the bags didn’t tear on the dirty garage floor.

While the kids were banging away, I put the ingredients together to make the dough. They then added and mixed the food coloring in and made the ropes and canes.

I spread them out on the cookie sheet and sprinkled with lots of peppermint shards and tossed them in the oven.

After baking and tasting, we found two serious problems:

  1. The peppermint was melted and burned all over the cookie sheets and we couldn’t get the canes off in one piece; and
  2. Oops! I forgot the sugar in the dough. So they not only looked bad, they tasted like the garage floor.

After we refreshed our mouths with juice, we laughed. I exclaimed: “Well, we blew that one! Who’d like to go to Thrifty’s for ice cream cones?” We slurped and licked the cones sitting on the curb of the parking lot and with sticky fingers got in the car to come home, singing, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.”

At dinner, the youngest said the blessing, asking God to help Mere (what my grandkids call me) learn to cook more better!

On the Internet, there are many recipes for making candy cane Christmas cookies. I won’t provide mine as it obviously was a fail!


Read below for a cookie recipe that has a close connection with The Salvation Army Orange County's Anaheim Emergency Shelter.

Below you'll find a must-try cookie recipe perfect for this holiday season, straight from Peter Striffolino, owner of Five Star Catering and Consulting, former Executive Chef/Instructor at the Art Institute of California, Orange County, and current Executive Chef for the Anaheim Emergency Shelter.  

Peter Striffolino is a nine-time recipient of the Southern California Restaurant Writers "Gold Award of Merit," named in 1990's "Top Twelve Young American Chefs" awarded by the Culinary Institue of America and Kraft International, and is the originator and former host of the "Great Chef's of Orange County."  Peter was the first recipient of the Orange County Business Journal's "Orange County Chef of the Year," and has consulted with corporate clients including Toshiba, BMW, Mitshubishi, El Torito, Kings Hawaiian, and Beckman Coulter, among other national brands. Peter is responsible for opening two culinary schools at The Art Institute of California, Orange County (accredited), oversaw 19 restaurant openings and cooked alongside 3-Star Michelin Chefs Alain Chapel, Jacques Maxim, and Paul Bocuse. 

After 40 years in the hospitality industry, Peter contemplated retirement but decided that it was not time for him to hang up his apron.  He decided that after four decades of serving constituents of 5-star resorts to cater to a different type of clientele. Today, Peter continues to practice his expertise in culinary arts to help nourish others in need, specifically Orange County residents experiencing homelessness that reside at the Anaheim Emergency Shetler.

Peter is a very special man and The Salvation Army is blessed to have him overseeing the nutritional needs of the shelter's residents. It is not uncommon to find Peter talking to residents about the food served, taking requests, and making special meals to ensure our homeless neighbors are fed healthy, fresh food, that is grown locally and made from scratch! Needless to say, Peter is one popular man around the shelter.

Below is one of Peter's favorite Christmas desserts, which reminds him of his own childhood holiday celebrations that he shared with his brothers.  Enjoy!


   (Little Pine cone)


4 cups AP Flour

2 oz Butter

¼ tsp Salt

¼ tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp Nutmeg

1 cup Sugar

6 Eggs

¾ tsp Anise Extract

¼ tsp Baking powder

1 cup Honey

½ cup colored sprinkles

  • In a mixer cream sugar with butter
  • Add all dry ingredients and mix until incorporated
  • Combine Anise with eggs and slowly incorporate it into the mixture
  • Remove dough and roll into round strips about 3/4 inch thick
  • Cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces so you end up with 3/4 inch balls
  • In hot oil, deep fry the balls until golden brown, remove and let sit for 20 minutes
  • Place Honey in a pot and warm it up, add dough balls and 2/3 of the sprinkles
  •  Mix together and remove from the pot onto a platter and top with remaining sprinkles
  • ENJOY!

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