Sal picked up the last of his belongings and looked over at Glen, who celebrated the empty office space with his feet propped up on their shared desk and a glass of sherry. “Merry Christmas, pal.”
“You too, Sallie. Oh, hey, you forgot this one.” Glen tossed him the small box, red and green and wrapped with a silver bow.
Sal caught it and frowned. “I didn’t see this. Where’d they come from?”
“Betty left it for you.” Glen wiggled his eyebrows. “She didn’t leave one for me neither. Ain’t that interesting?” He took a sip of sherry and smirked. “I think it’s very interesting.”
Sal ignored him and turned the little box over. Sure enough, there was a tag attached with his name, a heart and a “B.” Sal stared at the heart for a few solid seconds. “Hey, where is Betty?”
“She’s on set, they’re shooting late tonight, remember? Hey, where you going? You left all your stuff!”
Sal walked down the hall, past the control room. He ignored the sign with the blinking light and slipped into the studio. The audience laughed in unison and a few people clapped and hollered as Jimmy Watson, the host, waved his arms and ranted. Must’ve been the bit about carol-singers, Sal thought. It got a big laugh at the run-through earlier.
He moved through the heavy row of production people and, as he always did when he visited the set, marveled at the sheer number of people required to put on a little weekly variety show. A few of the guys gave him questioning looks as he wove his way past monitors and over wires and he shrugged, as if he didn’t know what he was doing there, either.
She was all the way on the other side of the studio. She was in show-mode so the headphones were on, along with her glasses, and she tapped her pencil to her lip as the next number started, her clipboard in her arms. When the dancers entered stage-left, he saw her head bob from side to side as she crossed something off her list and made a few notes.
This was stupid, Sal realized suddenly. They had to be quiet, he couldn’t say anything to her; what had he been thinking? He stood there, a ways off, and wondered if he should just go when she turned and saw him. And there it was, a smile, a quick burst of one, he saw it. She looked at him, her eyes a question mark.
Sal lifted the gift in his hand and felt his own smile as she blushed, her cheeks red. There was a flurry of movement as the dance number picked up its pace and the next pack of backup dancers darted between them, a flurry of long-legged girls dressed as reindeer. Betty glanced over at them, flustered, and when she looked back, he mouthed, “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” she said back, silently, and around them, the music swelled.
Things you definitely should be doing two days before Christmas, even if you don’t celebrate (or care about) Christmas:
– You should make these cookies. Because. Come on. Look at them. I dare you to defy these cookies.
– The next time you’re outside and it’s cold (and dry), take a minute and breathe it all in. Cold air demands reflection. I don’t know why this is, I don’t make the rules. But there’s a certain, very specific kind of clarity that will come to you on a dark, cold, starry night in the waning days of December.
– Shop online. Less time in parking lots will make you a better, happier person.
– Eat equal parts salt and sugar. This will make you happy and you won’t really understand why. Maybe it’s a balance thing.
– Listen to Michael Buble. It doesn’t have to be Christmas music. Sinatra maybe. Or Harry Connick Jr. Something standard-y. It’s the musical equivalent of warm butter. You need it. You won’t be sorry.
Happy Merry. See you next year.
Love and deliciousness,
Judi and Nicole
The SKS Cookie Collection
S’more Cookies | The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | Snowball Cookies (Foodie.com) | Cookie in a Skillet | White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies | Shortbread Cookies Filled With Caramel | Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies | Bourbon Balls | Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | Beurre and Sel Jammers
Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles
Make ahead alert! The dough needs to rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator
2 and 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon of baking soda
2 Teaspoons of cream of tartar
1/2 Teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
1 Cup of unsalted butter, sliced
1 and 1/4 Cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup of granulated sugar
1 Large egg
1 Egg yolk
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt
1 Cup of caramel squares, cut into quarters
For rolling cookies:
1/4 Cup of granulated sugar
2 Teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Coarse salt for sprinkling over cookies
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
2. To brown the butter: heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter until melted. The butter will start to foam and browned specks will begin to form at the bottom of the pan. The butter should have a nutty aroma. Watch it carefully because it can burn quickly; remove the butter from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the brown butter and sugars (brown and granulated) for at least 3 minutes, should be blended and smooth.
4. Beat in the whole egg, egg yolk, vanilla and yogurt and mix until combined.
5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape bowl to get all remaining flour.
6. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
When ready to bake:
7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, get your salt ready for sprinkling.
8. Take the dough from fridge and measure two tablespoons of dough to roll into a ball. Flatten ball with the palm of your hand and place a caramel in the center; make the sure the caramel is completely covered with dough.
9. Roll the ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on your prepared baking sheet.
10. Place balls two inches apart. Sprinkle with salt.
11. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden brown. The centers will still be soft.
12. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes or until set. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.