It wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas cookies. Early in November my mom starts baking the dozen or so different types of cookies for the holiday season. As kids, my brothers, sister and I could hardly wait until the first of the holiday visits when mom would break those cookies out and set them on the table for the guests. We’d wait at the edge of the table until the guest would take the first cookie, out of courtesy of course, then it was every kid for himself to get to those treats.

Holiday Cuccidata!
Holiday Cuccidata!

My mom is Sicilian so the first order of business was making the cuccidata, a cookie filled with dates and figs and cut into an almost star-like shape. My nonna and zia would come over, sit down on chairs facing each other, place a board over their knees and begin kneading and shaping the dough while chatting about family and life the way it was in the old country. The filling was made out of dried figs, and for some reason, don’t ask me why, a bit of cooking ammonia.

I couldn’t tell you what the purpose of the ammonia was (these days my mom’s decided to not use it at all) but the smell of it was enough to clear your sinuses for days! But ammonia aside, the cookies were always a hit and everyone looked forward to them. It wouldn’t have been Christmas without them. It was one of many great holiday traditions that we had in our home.

Christmas cookies are great to make and even better to eat. I got this recipe from one of my co-workers during the annual Christmas Cookie swap. Although it’s not really a cookie, it doesn’t require having to spend hours in the kitchen, which is a definite plus. This recipe is the easiest thing you’ll ever make and people will love them! There’s no real measuring involved (which is why it’s one of my favourites!) and they taste great.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters
1 bag of chocolate chips
1 bag of peanut butter chips (you can also use any other kind here including butterscotch chips or any other kind of flavoured chocolate chip out there)
Unsalted peanuts (usually around 2 cups, give or take a little)

Put a pot with about a cup and a half of water to boil on the stove. Place a stainless steel bowl on top of the pot. This will act as a double boiler. Pour the chips into the bowl. As the water begins to heat up in the pot, the chips in the bowl will begin melting. Stir until all the chips have dissolved into the chocolatey loveliness then stir in the peanuts. Once the peanuts have been incorporated into the chocolate, take a spoonful and drop it onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Once you filled the sheet with drops of chocolate covered peanuts, set aside and let it cool.