11 Sleeps to Christmas: Kaufmann’s thumbprint cookies

img_9512There is no treat like a Kaufmann’s thumbprint cookie.

And if you’re from the Pittsburgh area, you might be familiar with the iconic skyscraper-looking thumbprint cookies made famous by the longtime regional department store’s Arcade Bakery.

The cookies were the most famous treats from Arcade.

After Macy’s closed the longtime flagship Kaufmann’s location in Downtown Pittsburgh, Prantl’s Bakery continued the tradition.

I recently learned that the Arcade Bakery baker Kevin Ulrich (who Prantl’s hires after Macy’s closed) is back on the thumbprint detail as of August!In September 2015, the bakery released its own version of the cookie. At the time, they tasted fine — not the same, but close enough!

Prantl’s has hired the baker who led the thumbprint cookie creation. So I had high hopes for the future.

In November I had some thumbprints for the first time since early summer and immediately tasted a drastic difference.

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The thumbprint cookie I longed for and remembered was back! But I just assumed it was because I bought them at the Shadyside location instead of Market Square where I usually go. (They’re all baked at the same place but delivered elsewhere. But you know, tastes can change in delivery!)

But GoodFoodPittsburgh.com explains that Ulrich was doing other work for Prantl’s before taking over the thumbprint role again.

“I’m happy it happened like this. The cookie is in the right hands,” Ulrich told the blog.

There are many, many flavors available. So go try all of them! And thank me with a thumbprint cookie!

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That’s Christmas to me

I’m often asked why I love the holiday season so much. It could be 90 degrees outside in August or 45 degrees on Easter weekend in March and there is a good chance I could be listening to Christmas music. July slowly is becoming a mini-December for me!

Nov. 1 has become my official start of the holiday season with a run up to that being the Hallmark Channel holiday movie kickoff the weekend around Halloween. As people head out to costume parties and kids stroll the streets for candy, I’m nestled under a blanket on the couch watching Christmas romances on Hallmark Channel and playing holiday tunes from iTunes or iHeartRadio.

I find myself defending my love of the holidays against people who demand that I don’t even think about Christmas until the last slice of pumpkin pie is gone after Thanksgiving.

And putting up the tree before Thanksgiving? Blasphemy, they say!

Meanwhile, the first Christmas commercial or product or glimpse of anything anywhere and I’m all…

So what is it about Christmas that I love so much? Christmas is magical. It’s a time to reflect on the year that was, think about the year to be and enjoy the moment right now with friends and family.

My grandmother loved the holidays. I remember helping her decorate her house in November (many years while watching the old Kaufmann’s Celebrate the Season Parade in Pittsburgh on TV). The cookies, the gifts, the crafts, the fun, the memories.

That love of the holidays continued through to my mother, whose feelings about this time of year are comparable to mine.

Traditions have continued and morphed and been added, and each holiday season becomes a special chapter in my life.

The welcoming twinkle of lights strung around homes, or seeing a decorated tree in a window helps me to think that no matter what’s going on in the world, we’re able to come together.

As Kris Kringle said in the famous 1947 “Miracle on 34th Street” film, “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” Being thoughtful, giving, welcoming and loving are traits we should carry with us throughout the year.

So, please, come along for the ride.