For our fourth day of the 12 Days of Roasty Melty, I decided to go for something kind of festive in honour of the holidays and do some Christmas baking. These cookies weren’t originally a particularly festive recipe, as I feel you could easily do them any time of the year, but I’ve decided to make them a Christmas recipe because why not?
I’ll explain the name, because I’m sure a lot of people are going to be confused by it. Is it a Bahamian recipe? No. Does the Bahamas even get snow? Also no. And therein lies the joke.
I spent a number of Christmases in the Bahamas, where my grandmother lived. For a long time, the holidays meant sun and sand, playing at the beach and listening to christmas carols while putting on sunscreen. I loved it there, but I also missed the snow a bit, especially as the big day grew near. I built sand snowmen, thinking of my friends back home.
When I was making these cookies today, I was struck by the grainy appearance of the balls of dough rolled in sugar. They glittered and shone, not unlike a true snowball in the winter sun, and not unlike the balls of sand I would make, playing at the beach. These are my “Bahamian snowballs”.
I realize that the name is somewhat problematic because they only remain in a “snowball” shape before they go in the oven. I was so tickled by the idea of them being tiny snowballs though that I decided then and there that this is what I would call them. If it so bothers you, you may also call them Sand Dollars I suppose, because they do take on about the size and shape of one when they do flatten out.
The grandmother I spent these christmases with is the same one with whom I made peanut butter cookies, and so many others. I miss her dearly, and baking cookies is one way I always feel close to her. The holidays can be a wonderful time, but for many, they can also highlight the loss of those dear to us, no matter how long ago it may have happened. Rather than being sad, these cookies made me quite happy. I remembered all of the little holiday traditions we started so long ago in a very different place, and smiled at all the memories.
These cookies are made with Ovaltine, one of my favourite winter drinks from my childhood. It’s chocolatey without being overpoweringly sweet, and the malt flavour always made me feel as though I was drinking something much more grown up. The cookies are similar. The middles are deliciously soft and chewy, and much less dense than I was expecting. The bottoms are crispy, with a delicious caramel flavour. These are not an overly sweet cookie, but more how I’ve always the British “biscuit” to taste (and yes, I realize “biscuit” refers to all cookies, but in my head they’re different). This is the perfect cookie to have with a cup of tea or a glass of milk. It’s light and lovely and wonderful.
So please, make these cookies, give your loved ones a hug, and happy holidays!
Makes 40-60 small cookies (it depends on the size of your scoop)
- 1 and 3/4 cups flour
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Ovaltine (the chocolate malted kind) (also, when I say 1/2 cup, I mean of the dry mix, not of the prepared liquid drink)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, or slightly softened in the microwave (not melted!!!)
- 1 large egg (and I do mean large! There’s not a lot of liquid in this recipe, so you have to get it where you can)
- extra white sugar to roll the dough balls in
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, whisking together.
- Beat the sugar, Ovaltine and softened butter in a large bowl until well combined. It won’t exactly be creamy, but pretty thick and grainy. It should get a bit smoother once you add the egg, which you should do now.
- Gradually add the flour mixture. You may have to bring it all together with a spatula if it gets too thick.
- Scoop generous teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. It may be very sticky. If it’s too sticky to roll, drop the teaspoonful of dough into a small bowl of the extra sugar. Nudge that around until it gets covered, then roll gently between your palms until it looks more or less round.
- Place the balls about 2 inches apart, as they will flatten and spread.
- Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. You should see a tiny bit of brown creeping around the bottom of the cookies, and the top will start to look a bit wrinkly.
- Cool the cookies on the tray until firm enough to lift off and cool on racks.
- Serve once completely cool or store in a tupperware container.