The Keeler Elves are itching to crank up the ovens to test recipes for the Taste section's 11th annual Christmas cookie issue.
You read that right. Christmas cookies.
The elves can't start baking, though, until they get recipes from readers. This is your cue to look through recipe boxes and computer files for your favorites. We want all kinds of cookie recipes: bars, drops and cutouts; with nuts and without; iced, plain and sprinkled; gingerbread, peppermint and chocolate.
We'll try something different this year and include some recipes that cater to dietary issues. So break out those gluten-free, sugar-free or vegan cookie recipes. We'd like to offer readers some of those this year, too.
If you have a special story about your recipe, send that along, too. The elves have a soft spot for tales of Christmases past. The cookie issue, which publishes Nov. 28 this year, will include two dozen of the best reader recipes, all tested by the Tampa Bay Times.
Simpler recipes and those that don't require a lot of equipment make the cut more often than difficult ones. We always look for a few that are easy for children to make.
Our goal is to find about 35 recipes to test. The cookies are baked in a home kitchen, and if they don't turn out well the first time, we don't normally make them again unless they have great promise. We figure if they don't work for us, they won't work for you. Nobody has time at the holidays for baking disasters, right?
Our biggest challenge is finding candied cherries early in the season. Well, that and not packing on the pounds from all that sampling.
As always, we look forward to hearing from you. It's the sweetest time of the year.
Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor