On the Jewish food scene: My seasonal iced cookie craving

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

About four or five years ago in December, I stopped into a coffee shop and noticed an iced cookie shaped like a moose among the baked treats on offer. Although I rarely ate iced cookies, I couldn’t resist buying it. I showed the cookie to a friend when I got to The Reporter office and was promptly informed that it was not a moose, but a reindeer. (Eh, what do I know from reindeer? It still looked like a moose to me.) Either way, I enjoyed the cookie and then promptly forgot about it. 

Fast forward ahead to the next December and I’m heading into that same coffee shop and suddenly think, “Oh, maybe they’ll have that cookie again. It was really pretty good.” But, to my sorrow, there were no iced cookies – no moose, reindeer or any other kind. Note that I’d gone a whole year without thinking about the cookie, but now I really wanted one.

Why not bake one myself, you might think. Sorry, I find it impossible to use sugar in a recipe. I do now eat foods that contain sugar, but, after once being on a restricted diet for five years and only eating dessert twice during that period, I still note every time I put something in my mouth that contains sugar. The idea of adding sugar to food I make at home makes me shudder.

But, there I was, still wanting a cookie. You might think if I was that desperate, that I might start haunting bakeries demanding that they make me one. But, no, I didn’t. However, I got lucky. I was shopping in a grocery store that I go to infrequently (I prefer the one near my house because I want it to stay in business) and for some reason walked down its large bakery aisle. And suddenly I saw it: a large stand filled with iced cookies in all shapes and sizes!

Since this was December, you can image what most of the shapes were. My preference is for a less Christian religious shape, although I can’t remember exactly what I bought. (Maybe a snowman?) But if a Christmas tree or a Santa Claus had been the only shapes the cookie came in, then I would have gotten one. Please note: I only bought one cookie. That’s right: my craving is for one iced cookie a year.

This brings us to last year during the pandemic. My shopping was limited to grocery stores and drugstores. The coffee shop was definitely not on my list of places to risk. I was even avoiding the grocery store with the large bakery aisle because it was usually too crowded for my taste. But one day last December, I had to go somewhere early in the morning and passed by the store on my way home. To my surprise, I saw the parking lot looked relatively empty. Since there are a few things it sells that I can’t find anywhere else, I decided to go in for a quick shopping trip. Oh, and I also bought my yearly iced cookie while I was there. 

I normally don’t think about that cookie during 11 months of the year. This year, it came to mind early because I was thinking about the food columns that appeared in the November issues of this paper. My mind jumped around and began to ponder December foods. That’s when it landed on my yearly iced cookie. Since I’m writing this in October (just after writing the November food columns), I don’t have a craving for it yet. There’s more than a month to go before my brain even starts thinking good thoughts about that cookie. Will I manage to find one this year? Will I risk going into the grocery store during the biggest shopping month of the year? Your guess is as good as mine. But the real question is, what shape do I want to bite into if I do? There is something about that original cookie shape that appeals to me. So, if possible, I hope they have a moose-shaped one – yeah, I know it was a reindeer, but I still think of it as a moose – because that first cookie remains my favorite.