Of all the cookies that grace Christine Albano's table at Christmas, the lemon ring-shaped ones -- ciambelle, in Italian -- are the most popular. Balance is key: Lemon zest is added to the buttery base, and lemon juice enlivens the nonpareil-flecked glaze. "We serve a big pile, and they're gone by the end of the meal."
These cookies, pairing chocolate with cinnamon, take cues from classic Mexican flavors and go wonderfully with scoops of ice cream. You can also make bite-size cookies by rolling the dough into smaller balls.
Older children can use their hand to outline the cookies, drawing around it on the dough with a skewer and using a knife tip to cut along the line. If your child can't participate, make a pattern from a manila folder. Translucent parchment works well for the heart stencil; it will allow you to see the shape of the cookie through it.
Acknowledge Cupid's work with ice cream hearts in which his arrow has made its mark. Soften strawberry ice cream in a mixer on low, spread onto a rimmed baking sheet, and refreeze. Bake arrow-shaped tuiles (See recipe and ingredients below). Just before serving, cut ice cream with a cookie cutter and place arrow.
To make the arrow stencil, print an arrow symbol from a computer; enlarge, if necessary, and trace it onto thin foam board, or draw it by hand. Using a straightedge to guide the blade of a utility knife, cut out the shape and remove the inside of the stencil.
The batter for these cookies may be made and kept refrigerated for two days. To make a template for these cookies, cut a three-inch heart-shaped hole in the center of a piece of heavy plastic, such as a coffee-can lid. Trace a heart cookie cutter for the shape, if you like. Spread the batter thinly over the template; if the batter is too thick, the tuiles may bubble.