Make the Yuletide Gay: “Secret Light” by Z.A. Maxfield

Guest Blog by Z.A. Maxfield

Rafe Colman likes his life. He has a nice home, a good job, and a wonderful dog. But he’s exhausted by living a lie. When his home is vandalized because of his perceived German ancestry, he can’t even share the irony with friends.

Officer Ben Morgan falls for Rafe’s dog first, but it isn’t long before he’s giving her owner the eye. He thinks they have more in common than the search for Rafe’s vandals, and he’s willing to taking a chance and find out.

If life in 1955 is tough on a cop in the closet, it’s even tougher on a refugee who’s desperate to hide his roots and fit in. Rafe knows from tragic experience how vicious prejudice can be. Every second with Ben is stolen, every kiss fraught with danger.

When Ben’s partner threatens to ruin everything, Rafe and Ben have to fight to protect what they have, in Secret Light

Here are my favorite cookie recipes. They come from Gourmet Magazine’s December 1995 issue, and I’m reprinting it here from, the website I use most for finding recipes. The basic butter cookie dough makes three pounds of dough, which I use to make two different kinds of cookies: Raspberry Hazelnut cookies, (like tiny Linzer Tortes) and Mocha Butter Balls.

Basic Butter Cookie Dough
Gourmet | December 1995

This recipe is used to make:
Raspberry Hazelnut Triangles
Mocha Butter Balls

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.
Yield: Makes about 3 pounds dough


4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

In large bowl of a standing electric mixer beat together butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks, 1 at a time, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in flour gradually, beating dough until just combined well.

Mocha Butter Balls
Gourmet | December 1995

These cookies are rolled in confectioners’ sugar while warm, which gives them a thin buttery frosting.

Yield: Makes about 6 dozen cookies


1/2 prepared Basic Butter Cookie Dough at room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired
about 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer beat together all ingredients except confectioners’ sugar until just combined well.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange about 3/4 inch apart on baking sheets.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until just firm and beginning to brown, about 18 minutes, and cool on baking sheets 5 minutes.

Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. After the 5 minutes cooling, toss balls, a few at a time, in confectioners’ sugar, coating them well and transferring them as coated to trays to cool completely. (Before balls are stored or frozen, they can be coated lightly again in confectioners’ sugar to keep them from sticking to each other.) Cookies may be stored between layers of wax paper in airtight containers up to 6 weeks frozen.

Print recipe

Raspberry Hazelnut Triangles
Gourmet | December 1995

These cookies are like bite-size Linzertortes. Instead of being cut into triangles as suggested below, the dough can be cut into whatever other shape is preferred.

Yield: Makes about 8 dozen cookies


1/2 prepared Basic Butter Cookie Dough
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out dough between sheets of wax paper into an approximately 14-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick, and remove top sheet of paper. Spread dough with jam and sprinkle with nuts.

With a long-bladed knife cut dough into 2-inch squares and halve each square diagonally to form triangles. If dough becomes too soft to work with, transfer it on wax paper to a baking sheet and freeze or chill until firm.

Arrange triangles 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets and bake in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes and transfer to racks to cool completely. Cookies may be stored between layers of wax paper in airtight containers up to 6 weeks frozen.

Print recipe


To celebrate the season, I’m giving away one electronic copy of Secret Light. Comment on this post to be entered for the draw, and I’ll contact the winner on December 24. Happy holidays!

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