I love to make several traditional favorite cookies at the holidays, and always try one new one. This year I combined the two by making a cookie that had been served every year by my mom. Since I haven't gotten to be with family for the last several years at the holidays, I am stepping up and doing our traditions myself, so for the first time I made my mom's mocha cakes this December.
I have no idea how my mom's mocha cakes got the name, as there's nothing chocolate about them. They are a lovely made-from-scratch vanilla cake, cubed and slightly dried, then dipped in royal icing and rolled in peanuts. They make a lovely tea cake and always spell holiday to me.
A big part of my California Christmas is participating in cookie exchanges. This year my annual events were shaken up a bit, as some were suspended and a new one added. My Food Bloggers Los Angeles group holds a lovely event where the party is as much anticipated as the cookies we bring home. Their spread is the first photo above this paragraph. The food bloggers are extremely inventive with ingredients as well as an eye towards presentation that always inspires me. This year's highlights were chai tea shortbread, homemade apple strudel, and some hazelnut sandwich cookies that looked like french macaroons. A few bloggers were kind enough to make appetizers or entrees for the party as well. I so enjoy socializing with my FBLA friends.
I had a new invitation this year to a neighborhood cookie exchange with a work colleage. My friend Luc lives on the most convivial street I know, in a tiny enclave of Culver City. Their summer bbqs are legendary, shutting down the entire street for a block party. I'm so excited to be included in their holiday exchange! I got to know several of the ladies as we enjoyed a lovely pumpkin coffee cake after our trade, and stayed a bit longer to craft afterwards. I now know Luc and I have cross stitching in common as well!
Here's my mom's mocha cake recipe, posted as a jpg file. Click on the picture above to enlarge to a readable size. I'm happy to forward a pdf file as well. Leave me a note in the comments below or contact me on facebook for the email verson.