In planning (as Nora mentioned, only 4! baking days left until Christmas) the bacchanalia that is Christmas cookie baking, I start by making sure I have the basic ingredients on hand - flour, sugar, eggs, butter. Wait, butter? Or margarine? But what if the old family recipe calls for oleo, a fairly bizarre name for Crisco (but so much better than lard, which it easily could have been in an old family recipe)? There are decisions to be made here.
It always makes me feel better if I can find a way to lighten up a recipe, so if I can get away with substituting light margarine or even applesauce for butter or oil, I will. Sometimes this fails spectacularly, but most of the time, it works just fine. (Except for cupcakes. If you are making cupcakes in those little paper cups, applesauce will make the cake stick like you super-glued them.) But in a few cases, I have particular preferences. Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies really need to have butter (or light butter if you have that and it shaves a little of the guilt off). Snickerdoodles taste best with butter flavored Crisco. I cannot give you a reason why other than that I have experimented over the years and these have yielded the best results (they also disappeared the fastest).
I wish you all wonderful luck and perfect humidity for all your holiday treat-making endeavors. I also hope you don't make my mistake of mixing up baking soda and baking powder and coming out with flat hockey pucks that will break your teeth. Enjoy!
Do you have any rituals or funky tricks for holiday baking?