‘Tis the Season For Treats

Residents Share Their Holiday Favorites

by Kirsten Harrington

I know the holiday season has arrived at our house when my favorite grocery store starts carrying Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips. These little minty morsels elevate everyday chocolate chip cookies to a special seasonal treat. (Find the cookie recipe on the back of the bag.)

For Holly McCall of Winter Garden, it’s the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies she makes every season.

“The recipe came from my friend, Monty, so we call them Monty’s Melting Moments,” she said.

For Ann Dannenfelser of MetroWest, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the chocolate-and-cherry Belgian macaroons her grandmother taught her how to make.

Alison Madrid of Ocoee and her family celebrate the season by making pizzelles, decorative Italian waffle cookies baked in a special iron.

Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips turn everyday chocolate-chip cookies into a special seasonal treat.

“I grew up making them with my grandparents,” she said. “My grandmother would make the batter, and my grandfather would press the cookies with the pizzelle iron. [The] tradition continued with my mom making the batter and my dad pressing the cookies at their house. Now, I have my own iron and make them with my kids at home.”

People of Madrid like to share these anise seed cookies with friends and neighbors.

In Puerto Rico, coquito, a thick coconut-flavored rum punch takes center stage at Christmas and New Year celebrations, and Orlando’s Gabe Medina continues the tradition with his grandfather’s recipe. It is these recipes that are passed down through families or shared by a friend that create long-lasting memories that linger even after the last cookie crumb or sip of punch is gone. There’s still time before Christmas to make another batch of your favorite or try a new one to share with a friend.

Monty’s Melting Moments Cookies

courtesy of Holly McCall


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups of butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon salt


Mix dry ingredients together. Cream butter until smooth in large bowl. Add vanilla and almond extract. Mix in dry ingredients. Chill dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll dough into log and slice. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 6 dozen. Variation: Add peppermint extract to the dough, color one-half with red food color and shape them into candy canes.

Belgian Macaroons

courtesy of Ann Dannenfelser


1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sifted confectioner sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

20 to 25 maraschino cherries, well-drained

Chocolate frosting or colored buttercream frosting


Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first four ingredients together. Slowly sift in flour and salt. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream if dough is dry. Wrap a level tablespoon of dough around a cherry. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes. When cookies are cooled, dip tops in frosting.

Belo’s Coquito

courtesy of Gabe Medina

This chilled coconut drink is traditionally served in very small cups, and the amount of rum can be adjusted to suit your preference.


1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (15 ounces) Coco López coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup Don Q white rum or more to potency and taste


Mix all ingredients in a blender, strain and chill in refrigerator, preferably overnight. Shake before serving and garnish with cinnamon sprinkles. ♥


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