With all the crazy political headlines lately, we decided to get into the holiday spirit and hit up a few politicians for a taste of the sweet stuff. (Not crack—cookies!) Here are three traditional cookie recipes from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Lauren Liu, the MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. One cookie’s chocolate, one’s gingerbread, one’s almond — and all are perfect for holiday merry-making and glad-handing.
Premier Kathleen Wynne
Wynne’s ginger snap cookie recipe is an adaptation of one from the 1973 edition of The Joy of Cooking. (Her personal changes are annotated in brackets below.)
“To me, this cookie is what the holidays are all about,” says Wynne. “I only make them at this time of year, and I used to send them to my kids when they were away at school before the holidays. They’re sweet but with a little spice. They’re a grown up classic, but you can make them fun for little ones with some coloured sprinkles.”
Cream 3/4 cup butter (I have also used margarine) with 2 cups sugar. Stir in the following ingredients:
- 2 well-beaten eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 tsp vinegar
Sift, and add:
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I only use a little over 3 cups, which makes the cookies chewy, and not rock-hard)
- 1 1/2 tsp soda
- 2-3 tsp ginger (I use at least 3)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- (I also add about a 1/4 teaspoon salt because I always bake with unsalted butter or margarine)
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Mix ingredients until blended.
- Form dough into 3/4-inch balls. (I dip one side of each ball in coloured sprinkles before I put them on the cookie sheet.)
- Bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes (could be less than that depending on the heat of your oven. If the cookies have flattened out and started to show the cracks on top, then they are ready).
Makes about 8 dozen 2-inch cookies (I’ve never found it makes that many — maybe 6-8 dozen.)
Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Mayor Nenshi’s favourite cookies are the Chocolava Cookies perfected by Calgary cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal.
These are rich, intensely chocolate, brownie-like cookies, rolled in icing sugar before they’re baked to create a crackled surface as they rise and spread in the oven. Don’t over-bake them — they should be set around the edges but still soft in the middle.
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla
- icing sugar, for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Add the butter and pulse or stir with a fork, pastry cutter or whisk until the mixture is well combined and crumbly.
- Add eggs and vanilla and stir by hand just until the dough comes together. The dough will be fairly dry — it will seem at first that there isn’t enough moisture, but if you keep stirring, or get in there and use your fingers, eventually it will come together.
- Place a few heaping spoonfuls of icing sugar into a shallow dish. Roll dough into 1 1/2-in. balls and roll the balls in icing sugar to coat.
- Place them about 2-in. apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12–14 minutes, until just set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
NDP MP Laurin Liu
When Laurin Liu was elected in 2011, she was the youngest female Member of Parliament. The 23-year-old is the NDP MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. Liu’s favourite cookie is the Chinese almond biscuit.
Chinese almond biscuit
- 2 cups flour (she gets her flour at the Légaré Mill in Saint-Eustache; the oldest working water-driven mill in Canada, built in 1762!)
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 30 whole, blanched almonds (one for each cookie)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat the butter or margarine, shortening, and sugar. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. (The dough will be crumbly at this point).
- Use your fingers to form the mixture into a ball of dough, and then roll the dough into 2 logs that are 10- to 12-in. long. Wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Take a log and lightly score the dough at 3/4-in. intervals so that you have 15 pieces, then cut the dough. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie tray, approximately 1 1/2 in. apart. Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Brush each cookie lightly with beaten egg before baking. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 30 cookies. Cool and store in a sealed container.