This is a cookie from my childhood. It is still a family favorite. Of all the cookies and sweets I make this and the Apple Kuchen are the two things that always signify Christmas in our house. They are the cookie that my children ask for and family wants us to bring to family gatherings. Just the smell of the savory dough with cinnamon and cloves in it will take me back 40 years to standing in my mother’s kitchen waiting for the cookies to bake.
I remember going to my grandmother’s house every Christmas Eve when we were young children. It was always the highlight of the year for me. I knew that the house would be filled with all the wonderful smells and foods that I loved. This was one of the few days a year that our entire family got together and I always knew we would laugh, play and laugh some more together.
Pigs in the Blanket (cabbage rolls made with homemade sauerkraut), German sausages, my mother’s Apple Kuchen, and cookies covered the dining room table and sideboards. All kinds of cookies. Friends would give Grandma trays of Italian cookies they had made but there were also the foods that my father remembered as a child.
My brother and a cousin would usually end up in the Emergency Room every Christmas Eve due to their asthma. My grandmother had a real tree, which my brother was allergic to, and then all the excitement and running around would bring about an asthma attack. We used to think it was just part of the holidays. Sometimes I would get to stay behind at Grandma’s while they went to the Emergency Room or my dad would go home with me depending on the severity of the attack and time of night.
I would usually end the Christmas Eve throwing up from all the rich food we would eat at Grandma’s. I loved the sausages and Pigs in the Blanket. But, year after year I would eat it all up anyways because it was so delicious! I also knew this was the one time of the year that we would have all these wonderful, tasty foods.
Once my grandmother died the celebration moved to other houses but it was quite never the same for me. We have funny pictures of family members laying underneath a potted palm, or the stories of when the older cousins first brought a significant other to Christmas and the grilling they would get. But, I was growing up and the memories of those early Christmases as Grandma’s would be some of the ones I continue to host most dear.
Now, my family makes the cookies, the Apple Kuchen and Pigs in the Blanket. No, I don’t make the homemade sauerkraut but to me they are still delicious and remind me of family. I hope one day my children will make these dishes and tell their children about Christmas with us and the stories from my childhood.
A cousin just asked for the Apple Kuchen recipe this year. I am hoping that as he makes it and shares it with his family that he tells them the stories or our family Christmas gatherings and passes on the tradition to his children. It is in these traditions we carry forward the memories of our family members who are no longer with us. My children never met my grandmother but they can probably describe her kitchen and the way her dining room table was set up on Christmas Eve with all the treats set out on one of the perfectly starched white lace clothes for they hear these stories year after year as we bake the foods that bring us back to my childhood and the wonderful memories I have of growing up in a small town.
We call these Chocolate Meatballs in our house because they look like a meatball when cooked and unfrosted. It goes by many other names but to us they will always be Chocolate Meatballs.
These are savory cookie. The clove and cinnamon balance out the sweetness perfectly. These are by far my most favorite cookie.
You can use canned frosting to frost and decorate the cookies but as always homemade is much better. Your favorite butter cream frosting is best with these cookies.
Chocolate Meatball Cookies
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 cup Crisco shortening, regular not butter flavor
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups milk
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups flour
- canola oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix sugar, cocoa and shortening together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ground cloves into chocolate mixture.
- Add milk and flour. Mix thoroughly. The dough will be stiff and hard to work. Use your hands if necessary.
- Using tablespoon sized pieces of dough roll between your hands into a ball. Use canola oil on your hands to keep it from sticking.
- Place balls 1″ apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are set. (If cookies spread too much while cooking add more flour to the dough)
- Remove from oven and cool before frosting and decorating.
- Store covered for 3-5 days or freeze before frosting for up to 3 months.