Baking Day, East Coast Edition

My family and I had Baking Day, East Coast Edition yesterday. Baking Day was started by Boyfriend's mother as a day when a whole bunch of estrogen -- I mean, women gather in her kitchen to bake holiday cookies and participate in a cookie swap ensues.

Everyone brings one or two cookie or baking recipes and their special ingredients. The host buys the basics: butter, flour, sugar, eggs, salt.

Since I no longer live in San Francisco with her, I held my own Baking Day this year. It was paired down because my kitchen and apartment are small and can't handle eight hours of non-stop cookie action.

Baby Sister rolled out little Russian tea cookies dusted with powdered sugar that sort of softly pop in the mouth because they're so airy. The Eyes made raspberry linzer tarts, the recipe that called for the most meticulous handling, but so worth it in both presentation and taste. Oldest Sister made a batch of maple date bars, a variation on the cranberry oatmeal bars in the November 2008 issue of Cooking Light!). These were the least sugary and a great cookie for people who don't like overly sweet things (I drenched mine in extra maple syrup later... as I wrote that confession of my sweet tooth, a bug flew into and drowned in my hot cocoa). Mom made her famous magic crack -- I mean, magic cookie bars, a highly addictive tray of graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, toasted sweetened coconut, and sweetened condensed milk.

I contributed the chocolate orange biscotti that I made ahead of time, some candied tangerine peel for decoration, and some sugar dough so we could roll and stamp Christmas cut-out cookies, too.