Cool Christmas Cookies (Parts A & B)

 Explaining what’s behind the design of these sugar cookies (Part A of this post) – and why you might consider making similar ones – takes some doing, so bear with me.

For the last several years I’ve taken a trademarked group cardio class called Ramping Technique. I’d bet good money you’ve never heard of Ramping. It’s like Step, only low-impact. Instead of stepping up onto a flat surface you step onto a semi-circle that is tilted at a 45-degree angle. Here’s my instructor, Rita Haake, standing on one.  

See how the middle foot is raised higher than the two end feet? This is ideal for people with bad knees or who want to target muscles in the back of their legs – including thighs, hips, and buttocks (and what woman doesn’t want that?). 

As you can see below, the stepping surface is divided into three colored wedges:

The first December that I was in Rita’s class I was surprised and tickled when, just before Christmas, she handed each of us a ramp-shaped cookie.  She had cleverly used sugar crystals in the exact shades of green, blue, and purple and in just the right places and proportions to recreate our equipment in miniature. It turns out she does this every year, using a standard sugar cookie recipe. The ideal cookie cutter for making the hemispheric shape starts with a martini glass. (Martinis happen to be her favorite cocktail.) She cuts the resulting 4-1/2-inch circle in half and, voila! a perfect ramp-shaped wedge. After baking, she spreads the surface with royal icing and, while it’s still wet, dips the cookie into corresponding wedges of colored sugar crystals.

Rita acknowledges the irony in providing butter-and-sugar-laden treats to exercisers, so every year she playfully instructs us to do “finger ramping” on the cookies before we eat them. Here’s me attempting it:

Makes me wonder if the rest of us could develop a signature cookie that reflects so accurately what we do for a living. Teachers, of course, can cut out rectangles in the shape of a ruler, then ice it in yellow and add black lines where the markings would be. But what else? I suppose I might try tracing a spoon, fork, or knife but that would result in a pretty boring cookie. Any suggestions?

Here’s Part B:  If you’re looking for a different take on holiday cookies, check out my In the Kitchen column in the 12/9/11 edition of the Princeton Packet, which focuses on heirloom cookie recipes. They feature apples, poppy seeds, and – gulp – lard.

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4 responses to “Cool Christmas Cookies (Parts A & B)

  1. how about a white thumb sugar cookie?

  2. no reason to gulp at lard. We never blinked at Crisco, and it’s FAR worse for us than lard, butter, duck fat, chicken fat, other natural fats… Just sayin’

  3. maybe computer keyboard cookies? 🙂

  4. We have a tradition at our house every year, at Christmas, I make dozens and dozens of my Mom’s cut out cookies and a bunch of my nieces and my daughters “belly up” to my large kitchen island for some cookie painting…what glorious creations we make! And the FUN and conversations we have…lots of “thoughts” come out when you are all sitting around together painting…I hear LOTS of secrets…it is a joyful time that we all look forward to year after year…and…thanks for the idea, Pat! I think I can make some flower shaped cookies for Buds & Bowls this year ! !

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