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Christmas is coming... are you ready?

December 5th, 2005 (11:24 pm)
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'Tis the season to be... ah bah humbug! I'm not *that* much into Christmas! (Although I will admit, my very first Christmas in Japan was just plain weird and lonely. It's a good thing a number of us decided to get together and have a X-Mas party and to-do because it would've been really depressing otherwise. We also went to Kobe for Illuminarie; a X-mas lights display that was started after the Hanshin Earthquake). Anyhow, back to the present... This year's just being a bit weird. Maybe it's the cold weather outside, but this year, I have this inordinate desire for COOKIES!!! The Sunday paper had a bunch of cookie recipes which I'm debating trying out, and am also debating taking the "easy" route and simply buying a bunch of cookies from the bakery. Haven't quite decided yet.

The female sibling unit bought a 1lb tin of shortbread cookies from Murchie's when she put in the last tea order there (she was out of her lemon spice tea), and we've *flown* through that tin. I quite like the cookies, and while I'm tempted to put in another order, I'm thinking maybe trying something else would be better. Afterall, variety is good, and we've had their cookies now for this year. I just don't know what to buy / get / make. >_<; The problem with lots of bakery cookies though is the concept of super-sizing. I don't like gigantic nibblies. Nibblies should be bite-sized. (Hence how easy it was to go through the Murchie's tin of cookies. They're bite-sized and made with butter and containing orange zest. *Evil* things I tell you, EVIL!!)

So, my quandary, since I like bite-sizers: what to make / buy. Nothing too sweet so the icing coated cookies aren't great, but every now and again are okay (for purchase; too fiddly for me to make). Sugar cookies maybe?... shortbread... maybe?? I have no idea what else to try for. >_<;;

I *am* thinking about making 2 batches of cream puffs; bite-sized of course. These are also very evil. Since they're so small, you don't notice how many you've eaten... :P But that probably won't be for at least another week. They only hold for about 4-5 days, and I'll need to buy 1L of half & half to make them (they're easy enough to make, just time consuming to fill. It's a very forgiving puff pastry recipe filled with a custard cream, sometimes I dip them in choco too for a bit of interest).

I'm also thinking that *maybe* I'll make peppermint chocolates. That's a recipe I haven't made in years, but really liked how they'd turned out. I never did buy the candied flower decorations that were to go on top, and I vaguely recall chipping my marble mortar and pestle trying to do this one year. The problem is breaking up the candy canes to a fine crush / dust state. (Anyone have any tips / tricks for crushing hard candy??) It's also hell on piping tips and bags since the choco/mint mix is quite thick and the mint dust / crush tends to clump.

What's everyone else planning on making / getting in terms of sweets? (Willing to share recipes for made?) I'm at a serious loss this year. ^^;

Comments

Posted by: Laurie (ichi_san)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 12:52 pm (UTC)

Okay so I am *such* a christmas cookies buff. OMG you have no idea XD I have so many books at home.

Here's what I'm planning on baking this year : *I really need a life XD*

- Gingerbread people (I bake some every year, reminds me of childhood days I guess XD)
- Chocolate kinkles
- Vanilla crescents (this recipe was given to me by this viennese co-worker of mine, it is very popular in Austria. They call it 'vanillekipferln' there)
- And my favorite recipe of all : White Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal cookies (dried cranberries are not easy to find here though, unless in specialised english food stores. I might try and replace them with candied orange this year)

If some of them sound appealing to you just let me know, I'll post the recipe. ~_^

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC)

*laughs* It's X-mas time! 'Tis the season to be baking! :P

Gingerbread people eh? I like to make a gingerbread house about once every 5 years... I think it takes about that long for the trauma of building and eating one to wear off before I'm willing to tackle them again! ;)

I think I'm curious about your Vanilla Crescents recipe most. Since I'm thinking about making the peppermint choco's (finally found the original recipe. It'd gone missing for 2 years!), I suspect I won't be going for choco in cookies this time (although white choco / cranberry cookies sound yummy! Candied orange sounds like it'd be a really tasty alternative too). ^___^

I'd absolutely *love* if you could post the recipe. Please? ^o^

Posted by: Laurie (ichi_san)
Posted at: December 7th, 2005 12:24 pm (UTC)

Ahh, you won't regret it. ^^ Those vanilla crescents really are delicious (see how yummy they look here)

Yield : 40 crescents

Ingredients :

2 cups all-purpose floour
2/3 cup whole blanched almonds (4 ounces)
pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 moist vanilla bean (I use ready-to-use vanilla sugar in sachets, but not vanilla extract which won’t give the same results)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk

Topping :

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 moist vanilla bean (same here, I use 3 vanilla sugar sachets)

Directions :

Pulse flour, almonds and salt together in food processor to coarsely chop nuts, the process until nuts are ground (but not too finely).

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Split vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape seeds into butter using a butter knife or spoon. Beat for one minute to blend in seeds. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk. Add about one-third of floor mixture, mixing just until blended. Scrape dough onto large piece of plastic wrap. Use wrap to held shape into a large, flat disc, then cover completely with wrap. Refreigerate until firm enough to roll, at leat one hour or overnight (in which case you may need it to soften a bit at room temperature before shaping).

To make topping, wipe out the food processor to clean it of any flour. Add both sugars. Split vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape seeds into sugar mixture using a butter knife or spoon. Pulse several times to disperse seeds. Pour vanilla sugar into a small bowl.

Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough between your palms or on a lightly floured surface into 1/2 inch-wide x 2 1/2 inch-long logs with slightly tapered ends. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bend into a crescebt shape. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake until light golden brown around edges and on bottom, about 15 minutes. Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies for a minute or two. While still warm, roll each cookie in vanilla sugar and return to parchment on rack to cool completely.

Lifespan : 2 weeks at room temperature in airtight container.


Voilà ! I hope you like them, if you decide to try them let me know what you think (I'll tell my viennese co-worker that her recipe got another fan XD) ^^

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 03:36 am (UTC)

Wow thanks! Hmm... almonds, and maybe another vanilla bean just in case and I'm all set. ^____^ Will be sure to let you know how things go if / when I make it.

Cheers!

Posted by: Occupation: Fandom (flamika)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC)
mello - sugar

*laughs* Well, I don't have your mad skillz as far as making sweets go, but usually my family and I make pan de polvo for Christmas. They're basically bite-size cookies coated cinnamon and sugar cookies. I can dig up the recipe for you if you're interested. ^_^

Posted by: Ysabet (umadoshi)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC)
Glomp (sleepdebtfairy)

I'll take that if Shadow doesn't. ^^ Sounds yummy!

Posted by: beamspam mcmuppet (snapdragon76)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC)
Hakkai *drooool* (xskadi)

*drooool*

Posted by: Too cute for evil (ginny_t)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 05:14 pm (UTC)
Swedish Chef - Cooking

*drools* Yes, you must find this recipe. pleeeeeeeeze?

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 10:08 pm (UTC)

LOL! I don't know about mad skillz, but I like to indulge in creating utter chaos in the kitchen during the holiday season. :P I would love if you could dig up the recipe. It sounds yummy and I love cinnamon! I'm getting hungry seeing all these different cookie ideas... *_* *drools*

Posted by: Occupation: Fandom (flamika)
Posted at: December 7th, 2005 02:28 am (UTC)

I asked my mom to email the recipe to me. I'll post it up when she sends it my way. ^_^

I'm also getting pretty hungry. I might try out some of these recipes when finals are over. I want cookies and ice cream and brownies now...

Posted by: Ysabet (umadoshi)
Posted at: December 6th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
FB Christmas Kyo/Kagura (milkflavoured)

I think I've got about three rounds of cookie-making to do this year. Tonight we're having our St. Nicholas party, so I plan to bake ginger cookies (egg-free 'cause one of our friends is allergic, so we'll see how that turns out) and eggnog cookies today. Meant to do sugar cookies, but that was when I thought I'd be starting the baking yesterday. >.>

I'm going to do some baking with my mom, which'll probably include spritzkuchen, sugar cookies, and a recipe that involves vanilla chips/dried apricot/some nut or other. And I want to make chocolate/peanut butter balls for a potluck next weekend, and maybe shortbreads at some point . . .

Other than that, my required sweets-for-purchase are the PC Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge Crackle (words may be in a different order on the container) ice cream, and a Terry's dark chocolate orange, and *good* chocolate-covered cherries. Yum. *_*

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 7th, 2005 12:47 am (UTC)

Do tell how the eggnog cookies turned out. They sound yummy! ^_^ BTW, what's "spritzkuchen"? :?

I *wish* we could have ice cream, but the most we'll usually indulge for milk-based desserts is when I make cream puffs (choux de creme?) which is around this time of year. T_T

The list of potential candidates is coming together now! Yay! So far, it includes:

Vanilla Crescents (Ichi-san; never tried before)
Pan de Polvo (Flamika; never tried)
Eggnog cookies (have me intrigued, must hunt...; never tried)
Almond wafers (Favorite Cookie Recipes; never tried)
Ultimate Sugar Cookies (Crisco Cookies for a Year of Celebrations)
Cappuccino Cookies (Crisco...)
Cranberry Nut Oatmeal Cookies (Crisco...; never tried)
Toffee Spattered Sugar Stars (Crisco...; never tried)
Ultimate Cranberry Pudding Cake (allrecipes.com; never tried)
Orange Pumpkin Loaf (allrecipes.com; never tried)
Peppermint Chiffon Cake (allrecipes.com; never tried)
Sweet Potato Pie (Thing) (everything2.com; never tried)
Orange Cranberry Drops (allrecipes.com; never tried)
Whipped Shortbread Cookies (Best of Bridge)
Butter Tarts (Best of Bridge; never tried)
Cream Puffs (orig.)
White Chocolate and Peppermint Creams (Bon Appetit Dec 1993)

I won't be making all of these, and the list isn't closed yet either, but I'm hoping for at least 1 cake/loaf, 1 pie, 4 cookies + cream puffs and maybe choco's over the next month or so. Cream puffs... X-mas eve or New Year's Eve... :P

Posted by: Ysabet (umadoshi)
Posted at: December 7th, 2005 04:54 am (UTC)
Christmas cookies (skellorg)

The eggnog cookies came out well. ^_^ Yay! Much more popular than the gingerbread cookies, which I won't be making again--they weren't great, and I discovered after the fact that our friend who's allergic to eggs is also mildly allergic to nutmeg (although not enough to keep her from eating some of the cookies anyway ^^). So I need to continue my quest for a good gingerbread cookie recipe. *nods*

Spritzkuchen/spritz cookies are a German cookie made with a cookie press. I just found a whole bunch of yummy looking recipes here, but what my mom usually does is make a simple buttery cookie and divide the dough into three parts, two of which she colors with food coloring (green and red). Then she pushes them into the press alongside each other, and you get tri-colored shaped cookies.

I can post the eggnog cookie recipe over in hysteriachan. ^_^

And wow, a bunch of your options sound really good. *_*

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)

*pounce* P-o-s-t p-l-e-a-s-e... *____*

LOL! I was taking a look around last night (browser froze so I lost my post-in-progress :x) and discovered that most of the recipes I'm looking at making are available online. Let's see...

Crisco recipes are all available online at Crisco's site (www.crisco.com)

Ultimate Sugar Cookies (this one's really good)
Cappuccino Cookies (best to let sit overnight for flavour to develop)
Cranberry Nut Oatmeal Cookies
Toffee Spattered Sugar Stars

Surprisingly, some of the Best of Bridge's recipes are also available online including the two I'm looking at doing. They can be found on their site at:

http://www.bestofbridge.com/

Whipped Shortbread Cookies
Butter Tarts

The whipped shortbread cookies are truly "melt in your mouth". ^____^

The online recipes can be found at:

Ultimate Cranberry Pudding Cake
Orange Pumpkin Loaf
Peppermint Chiffon Cake
Orange Cranberry Drops (this PDF contains a number of their cookie recipes)

Sweet Potato Pie (Thing)

Bon Appetit magazine (and Gourmet magazine) has a number of their recipes also online on their website at:

http://www.epicurious.com/

Unfortunately, the peppermint chocolates I'm looking at doing is not online (there seems to be a similar recipe but it's more choco based than white choco based). It seems that almost all of 1993 isn't on their site and recipes from back then are really spotty. (It's only... 12 years ago! Not that long at all! ^^;; )

If you (or anyone else) wants any of the other recipes just yell. ^_^

Otherwise, curse the female sibling unit! *grumble* Being ever "helpful", she decided to pick up the latest Chocolatier magazine for me this afternoon. >_<;; There's an extremely tempting Individual Mint Fudge Cake recipe that has me waffling over making more than one choco item. Granted this one's primarily semi-sweet choco but... >_<;; It's supposed to be a really easy recipe as well. Although I'd have to pick up 6 ramekins to make the recipe... (not that that would break my heart too much since I don't have any yet). Argh! Decisions, decisions. I suspect I'm going to cave in though. T_T

Posted by: Hysteria (hysteriachan)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 03:46 am (UTC)
Christmas

*adds whole post to Memories for recipe links* ^^

The recipe's up now (I actually wrote the post before going to bed last night, and just realized I'd accidentally made it private. Oops).

. . . what's a 'ramekin'? And more than one chocolate recipe sounds ideal to me, but I'm a chocolate addict. *laughs*

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC)

Wai! \^_^/

Ramekins are small, usually white, ceramic "pots" often used for making creme brulee or similar desserts in. Here's a link from Williams-Sonoma:

http://ww2.williams-sonoma.com/cat/pip.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C15%7C0%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cramekin&gids=d080&cmsrc=sch

I'll have to see about getting out to the cooking supply store to pick some up. The recipe calls for 6 - 5 or 6oz ramekins, so they'll be nice sized individual cakes. It may be possible to substitute similar sized custard dishes instead of using ramekins (although bake times may vary) but I don't think we have 6 of those left anymore. ^^;

Posted by: Hysteria (hysteriachan)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC)
Hysteria (art by Sarcasm-hime)

Hmm, a baking implement we don't have yet . . . (Our kitchen is astoundingly well-supplied given that we rarely bake--bundt pan, cookie press . . . *laughs*)

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)

*laughs* I know that feeling. ^_^ Although, I will admit that I've used our cookie presses a fair amount when experimenting with bite-sized cream puffs. The pre-measured type are useful for making the puffs while the plunger-type (syringe on steroids) is really useful for adding the cream. :P

Just a FYI, I managed to find the recipe for choco's that's similar to the one I'm looking at making over at epicurious.com. It's *extremely* similar except that the new recipe calls for semi-sweet choco outer cups, uses less mints / more extract, and tops only with semi-sweet. It also uses sour cream. (The original recipe didn't have the choco cup and was half topped with white, half topped with semi-sweet).

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/107518

I'll have to try out the new recipe some time as well since the choco cup will make things much nicer looking overall once peeled, or... maybe even without the cups? I'd need to get a mold for that. Hmm... ^_^

Posted by: wombat1138 (wombat1138)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 12:47 pm (UTC)

My usual weapon of choice is butter toffee, from the recipe all the way at the end here; I've placed the link for the sake of proper credit and just in case the other recipes might also be of interest, but here's the quick toffee summary--

8 ounces unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water

10 ounces toasted hazelnuts, chopped (to yield 2 cups)
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Line a large brownie pan or cake tray with foil; grease the foil with neutral vegetable oil or the butter wrapper. Combine the first four ingredients in a heavy pot, stir and heat until dissolved/boiling, then lower the heat and simmer up to 300F (er, I guess that would be ~145C ?). Remove the pot from the heat, stir in 1 cup nuts, and immediately pour the hot toffee into the foil-lined tray without scraping the pot. Spread out the toffee smoothly (or at least try to-- it sets fairly quickly, but in the end it doesn't much matter), then move the foil lining to a cooling rack if that will make it cool faster than sucking up heat from the counter.

Wait about five minutes for the toffee to cool down. (In the meantime, clean up that toffee-encrusted pot by adding some milk to simmer on the stove with the lid on, which will help the steam wash down the sides; afterward, drink the milk, make it into hot cocoa, or store it in the fridge as pre-sweetened caramel creamer for tea/coffee.) Then dump on the chocolate, which will melt from the residual heat; spread it out evenly over the surface, then cover it with the rest of the nuts. Moosh the nuts down into the chocolate with your hands. You will end up with very messy hands, and probably extra nuts you will have to make cookies out of. Oh, the sorrow.

Completely wrap up the toffee in foil and put it in the fridge, or possibly outside unless you have marauding squirrels. When it's completely cooled down, whack it into bite-sized pieces.

It's a very easy recipe, and one which the wombat-consort has forbidden me to make more than once a year lest his weight-loss plans completely derail.

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 8th, 2005 07:54 pm (UTC)

Cheers!

Hmm... candy making. That's something I haven't done much of. This is looking like a *very* hands-on recipe. Oh the mess of it all! :P

Looks *very* yummy and naughty! And I love toffee... *_* Will let you know how things go if I try it out. I'm expecting to have some semi-sweet choco left over from the other candy recipe. :P No scraping the pot? Will have to keep that firmly in mind and see if we have any soymilk to wash the pot down with. ^_^

Posted by: wombat1138 (wombat1138)
Posted at: December 9th, 2005 11:45 am (UTC)

Well, you can scrape if you really want to, but it'll increase the chance of crystallization. Personally, I'll take any excuse to generate toffeed milk. Toffeed coffee is also very tasty, but I'm not supposed to get that hyper anymore. Sigh.

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 9th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)

Aha! I thought there'd be a reason for not scraping, but since I haven't done much in the way of candy making, I couldn't figure out what. (I've made butterscotch twice; the first time, I ruined a pot). ^^;

Hmm... toffeed coffee is another alternative... I wonder, maybe toffeed tea then. I don't know if there's a plain black in the house that's suitable, but maybe. (I'm very low on non-darjeeling plain black teas right now. Darjeeling, I suspect, would be overpowered by the toffee). ^^;

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