Lemon Bars

    Published: December 23, 2015

    Cookies for the Holidays!

    Cookies are a holiday tradition. There’s something about a fresh cookie still warm from the baking sheet that generates comfort and nostalgia. Like any other baked good, quality-ingredients make all the difference in a cookie’s taste, including the use of fresh, filtered water.

    holiday cookies

    Molasses Cookies

    Molasses has a long tradition as a cookie ingredient in New England where trade ships from the South made sure it was in steady supply. Here’s why the molasses cookie is an American tradition:


    • 1 cup molasses
    • ½ lb. butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • ¼ cup hot filtered water
    • 1½ tsp. ginger
    • ½ tsp. ground cloves
    • ½ tsp. allspice
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 4 cups flour
    • 2 tsp. salt


    Carefully bring the molasses to a boil in a heavy pan, then remove from the heat. Add the butter, stirring it into the hot molasses until melted and combined.

    Put the sugar in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the baking soda and hot filtered water. Pour the water into the molasses, then pour the molasses into the sugar and mix thoroughly. Add spices, flour, and salt, stirring as you add them. When combined, pour the mixture into a parchment-lined load pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut very thin slices of the molasses dough and bake for 15 minutes on a greased cookie sheet. Cool on a rack when done.

    Lemon Gingerbread Bars

    Here’s another take on the molasses cookie but flavored with ginger and lemon. One batch makes about 24 cookies.


    • 2 TB shortening
    • ⅓ cup molasses
    • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
    • 3 TB cold filtered water
    • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp. baking soda
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ½ tsp. ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
    • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
    • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 TB grated lemon peel
    • 3 TB lemon juice
    • ¼ tsp. baking powder
    • 3 eggs


    In a large bowl, stir together the shortening, molasses, and brown sugar. Stir in the water and then stir in the flour, baking soda, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, ginger, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan. Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

    While the crust bakes, beat the cup of sugar with the grated lemon peel and lemon juice, baking powder, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and three eggs with a whisk for about 1 minute.

    Pour the sugar mixture over the hot crust and bake for 20–25 minutes or until it sets. Let cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cut into bars.

     St. Nicholas’ Eve Letters

    December 5 is Saint Nicholas Eve, and these Dutch cookies are traditionally made on that night. The recipe makes about ten “letters.”


    • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup icy filtered water
    • 2 cups marzipan
    • 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 TB water
    • Coarse or pearl sugar, to garnish


    In a large mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. A pastry blender works best, but two knives will do the trick.

    Stir in the icy filtered water one tablespoon at a time until you can form the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for half an hour.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly flour your work area. Roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness and cut into 2½” x 4″ strips.

    Roll marzipan into thin “snakes” and place on the dough strips, folding dough over the filling. Seal the edges with filtered water. Place on baking sheets, twisting the filled rolls into letters.

    Brush with egg yolk, sprinkle with decorating sugar, and bake for 20–30 minutes or until the dough is a crisp golden brown. Let cool completely before removing from the baking sheets.

    Make sure to wash down your holiday cookies with some warm milk, eggnog, or perhaps a crisp glass of Pelican-filtered water. Happy Holidays!