The season's saving grace is not the liquor poured nor the lights strung nor the movies released. It's not the raucous sleigh bells' jingle nor>"/>
The season's saving grace is not the liquor poured nor the lights strung nor the movies released. It's not the raucous sleigh bells' jingle nor the temporary delusion of relief from hatred and hunger. Fans and humbuggers agree: The best thing about Christmastime is the cookies! Seattle's a cookie town, here's where to find some of the best:
Greenwood Bakery Cafe (7277 Greenwood N, 783-7181)
Steamy windows and good smells make this a cozy hang spot for fans of coffee, conversation, and warm, buttery things. The cookie collection this year includes chocolate crinkles; pecan crescents; Russian tea cakes; parson's hats; ginger people; Swedish wafers; almond spritz; macaroons like babies' fists dripping with chocolate; Swiss chocolate meringues; pfeffernusse; cream cheese rugelach with raisins and dried fruits; triple (bypass) chocolate chip, almond butter crunch; raspberry mazurkas; lemon wafers; hazelnut or pecan shortbread; anise, almond, chocolate, and hazelnut biscotti; ginger pecan and soft ginger; coco swirls; and butter Christmas cutouts.
Erotic Bakery (2323 N 45th, 545-6969)
Say it with a vagina or a jolly marzipan penis. Bigendered, anatomically correct Santas and bare-breasted Round Yon Virgins on big ginger cookies are also available. Gifty baked goods, such as the nicely packaged smorgasbord of three cupcakes festively topped with your choice of breast, penis, or vagina, come complete with gooey nipples and buttercream pubic hair in florid yuletide colors. "Pornography: the gift that keeps on giving."
Le Fournil (3230 Eastlake E, Ste A, 328-6523)
This real French pastry shop boosts their daily list with traditional and not so traditional French delectables for the holidays that include delicate sponges (button almond macaroon sandwiches with raspberry); a variety of shortbread cookies, from the slightly salty sablis Brieton and diament (with raisins) to chocolate- espresso, walnut, and piped spritzes with cherry filling. Cinnamon madeleines, Alsatian anise brittle, and chocolate macaroon sandwiches are also available. Patissiere/owner Nicolas Pare sells all these and more by the pound in gift boxes. You don't have to speak French, just come in and point.
Upper Crust Bakery (3204 W McGraw, 283-1003)
Legendary cookie man Gunter Werner pulled out batches of cookies (and lots of other good things) from the ovens at the European Pastry Shop on The Ave for generations of students. Then he sold it and migrated west to the Magnolia neighborhood and started Upper Crust, which carries on the tradition of quality (now run by Peter Larsen since Gunter's retirement eight years ago). Most importantly, Larsen still makes those celebrated all-butter, crispy and crunchy, ultralight Christmas sugar cookies that had Pakistani Muslims, Brooklyn Jewish kids, Tibetan Buddhists, and everyone else on The Ave thinking good things about the Christian holiday as they noshed them by the dozen. Other German yuletide cookies include the anise-flavored springerle, gingerbread folks, cinnamon stars, gingersnaps, spicy pfeffernusse and chocolaty lebkuchen.
Larsen Bros. Danish Bakery (8000 24th NW, 782-8285)
Many of the loyal clientele at this major cookie-distribution center are little old Ballard ladies—which bodes well for the cookie connoisseur. Traditional Danish seasonal cookies include the aromatic pfeffernuefe or spicy pepperkaka, and fattigman, the fried twists flavored with cardamom. The huge permanent collection includes raspberry mazzerines; crumbly fruited streusal squares; icebox cookies; white and chocolate chip meringues; Swiss kringles (cinnamon cookies like big striped pretzels); Christmas sugar cutouts; lemon, apricot, raspberry sandwich cookies; Finnish fingers of shortbread with sugar crystals and almonds; florentines (the crispy butter almond caramel patties more candy than cookie); walnut and caramel squares; jam-filled foldovers; chocolate and regular spritz; ginger crescents; marzipan-filled Napoleon hats; and more.
Macrina Bakery Cafe (2408 First, 448-4032)
From owner Leslie Macky's mother's recipe box come Swedish overnights (icebox cookies rolled in ground walnuts) and Mexican wedding balls made with almond flour dough and rolled in powdered sugar. Or try the raspberry angel thumbprint with almond pecan dough or the chocolate shortbread. You can get these in Macrina's annual Christmas gift box, the only Belltown tradition worth noting. Don't miss regulars such as molasses ginger, oatmeal chocolate chip, old-fashioned oatmeal, or the fabulous Rick's Cookie(chocolate chip with apricot and espresso). Gingerbread people are dressed (sometimes cross-dressed) at the daily whim of the staff.
The Gifted Fortune Cookie (7009 39th NE, 525-5335)
"Merry Xmas, Mom & Dad—by the way, I'm gay." Out yourself thoughtfully and tastily with a personalized message in individually wrapped chocolate-dipped fortune cookies shipped to your perhaps erstwhile loved ones.
T.M. Dessert Works (6116 Phinney N, 789-5765)
No cornflake macaroons around here: These cookies are handsome and decadent and well worth the princely price. The Christmas collection includes cutout sugars impeccably painted in dark chocolate and sugar-crusted gingerbread women and boys. Tea cookies include anise, lemon, and almond butters; molasses crinkles; Dutch nutmeg; snickerdoodles; shortbread; coconut macaroons; jam thumbprints; and pecan delights. Cookies by reservation only.
Le Panier Very French Bakery (1902 Pike Place Market, 441-3669)
It's hard to tell how much more French "Very French" could be, but this place sure makes great contributions to the melange of great aromas the Market is known for. For Christmas, they're doing glazed sugar palmiers, hazelnut or chocolate sablis, lemon almond madeleines, chocolate pinwheels, and those golden almond logs called friands, also known as financiers.
Tsue Chong Co. (801 S King, 623-0801)
What could be jollier than a bowl of red (cherry) and green (mint) fortune cookies to placate those raucous Xmas revelers? This old Seattle noodle factory makes the prophetic cookie of the East with standard inscrutable text or your own holiday message. For special orders, they'll do flavors such as mocha, apple, strawberry, lemon, cinnamon, or blueberry in dubious colors.
Remo Borracchini's Bakery & Mediterranean Market (2400 Rainier S, 325-1550)
This overrated American bakery has display after display of shrink-wrapped spritz cookies dyed green and cut like Xmas trees with Technicolor sprinkles. A string of pastry cases half a block long holds disconcertingly huge piles of the standards—peanut butter, chocolate chip, M&M's, snickerdoodles, etc. Giving hope are lots and lots and lots of amarettis, coconut macaroons, biscotti, wispy florentines, and walnut angel cookies, but in such mighty quantities, they're not always immaculately fresh. Imported boxed cookies might be the way to go here, with their good selection of latte-dunkers such as Italian quadratini and fogliatini, Scottish shortbread and oatcakes, German leibkuchen, and Swedish gingersnaps. Don't miss the chocolate chip animal crackers in a box shaped like Noah's ark imported from Highland Park, Ill.
Michael Hood is a contributing writer at Seattle Weekly.