From our Food Goddess, TaMara:
Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:
Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.
Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here.
Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.
Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.
Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.
How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.
Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts pecans
Powdered sugar for rolling
Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.
Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.
You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.
After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.
That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.
Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara
Seafood gumbo update: I got craw fish for my seafood gumbo and shrimp and mussels too. I took everyone’s advice and decided to stay away from the lobster. Will cook tomorrow and report. BTW what goes into Creole seasoning. My spice pantry is pretty well stocked so was planning to make it from scratch. Anyone have a favorite recipe?
Currently making my shortbread rounds that will have one half dipped in bittersweet chocolate when cool. They are somewhat reminiscent of Milanos. Just finished baking cutouts & got suckered (it sounded so easy) into trying the Nutella cookie recipe that seems to be all over the place lately. OMG it was awful & the cookies looked like out of the litter box. I hate wasting time & ingredients on a terrible recipe. If I am still standing after the shortbreads I’ll make the family’s traditional Madeleines. Maybe tomorrow, though.
I may do some Russian Tea Cakes as well, now that you mention it. My Mom made them every year.
I love the tea cake / wedding cookies; I have a recipe that is the same thing but used walnuts that I have made for years. Adding it to the list for tomorrow.
We ordered Maryland lump crab for delivery here for crab cakes Christmas Eve.
Cuban all the way this year for Navidad. Roast pork, rice, beans, platanitos fritos and yuca. My mother is very traditional for christmas. I’ll toss in a salad of some sort for those of us that actually like greens. My sister is in charge of dessert, which makes me very happy.
It’s pumpkin aioli time!
Here is my contribution to the Holiday Sweets Thread: Karanjis, turnovers with coconut filling. I make these every year for Diwali and I made extra filling so I will make one more batch for Christmas.
This year everyone is scattered around so we are just stocking up on goodies and nibbles and such and just buffeting all day.
Latest find: a ginger/orange goat cheese spread on crispy apple slices.
@schrodinger’s cat: BTW what goes into Creole seasoning. My spice pantry is pretty well stocked so was planning to make it from scratch. Anyone have a favorite recipe?
I have a list of various spice mixes and for Creole (not Cajun), I come up with two parts each garlic, onion, oregano, basil, one part each cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, thyme, five parts paprika and three parts salt. You could, depending, leave out the basil, and/or add celery seed. It depends.
I usually use one type of Cajun mix would would be one part each black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, garlic, paprika and salt.
The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.
My Xmas menu is Christmas tamales, chicken and sour cream enchiladas, refried (red) beans and red rice.
[‘Keeping it simple.’]
So far I have made the teacakes (Snowballs), Polish Kifle with pineapple filling (not bought), Fudge, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin and Thumbprints (Birds Nests) with strawberry jam. I asked the family for their favorite cookies to make this year.
Christmas is at a daughter’s much needed and much larger home. We are having Baked Ham and Turkey with a lot of sides made by the rest of the family except for the eggplant parm. I will make raisin stuffing for the turkey. Baklava and Village Baklava are the desserts I am making for sure. I still have to decide what kind of cheesecake to make. Any suggestions for the cheesecake?
@max: I don’t have dried thyme, can I use rosemary instead?
@HRA: Pumpkin cheesecake?
Made my usual fruitcake, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, plus three batches of fudge. Two more batches have been requested when we go to visit the rest of the fam.
May post my Seven Spice cookies again when I’m on my computer. They are like gingerbread on steroids.
@Yatsuno: Sounds wonderful. Speaking as a gingerbread fan.
@Yatsuno: Nom, Nom, Nom. Are they a soft or crispy type of gingerbread?
@Glidwrith: They’re soft, but they can be made crisper by modifying the sugar ratios. There needs to be some brown sugar cause you need that molasses fudginess, but more white sugar make them crystallise as they cool. But I like them soft with just a hint of crisp on the edge.
Our Christmas Classic Cookie is called Butter Balls, and they’re exactly the same recipe as Mom’s Pecan Cookies above, with two changes: an extra half stick of butter, and chocolate chips.
Yours sound good; ours sound better :)
@schrodinger’s cat: Thank you! Pumpkin will be perfect.
@efgoldman: I have the same problem here with chocolate chip cookies :( I made a double batch that disappeared into the man’s hands, a second single one that I noticed he is working on and tomorrow I will make another double batch to hide away as far as possible.
@WereBear: Wow, where’d you fine that spread? I’d love to have some for our family get together on the 27th.
@dww44: It was in our local health food store. But it’s easy enough to make with orange zest, a bit of juice, fresh-ground ginger, and a fine chevre.
Do they shrivel your balls?
Just a wee bit o’ brass for you.
@Mike J: …
@WereBear: @Glidwrith: Here they are!
Seven Spice cookies
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp mace
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Blend together butter and sugars and cream for two minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Sift together all the dry spices, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add into mixing bowl slowly and mix together until a stiff dough forms. Cover and refigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let the dough warm up slightly on the counter for about 15 minutes (this will make it easier to form). Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. Place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for five minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
Just in case, How to Clean Mussels.
Wouldn’t recommend rosemary, as its flavor is more dominant than thyme. If you have basil or marjoram, substitute those for the thyme instead. Or just leave that portion of the recipe out.
Linky fail. Fixed. (Mods, feel free to remove funky version)
Bet the house smells heavenly while those are baking.
My standby New Year’s party cookie:
Spicy Ginger Snaps
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup molasses (light, but dark can be used instead in a pinch)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbl. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground black pepper (or more if you want additional bite)
3½ cups sifted flout
Sugar for dipping
Cream softened butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in molasses.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, pepper and flour. Add to creamed mixture and beat well.
Chill dough until easy to handle.
Shape dough into marble-size balls. Dip each in sugar before baking.
Place 1½ apart on lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Remove baking sheet from oven, let cookies sit 1 minute then transfer to cooling rack. (They’ll be soft and malleable, but firm up when cool.)
Makes around 6 or 7 dozen cookies.
@Yatsuno: Neat! I even learned where mace comes from, just the other day.
@satby: My mother-in-law made those cookies but she called them Walnut Dreams, or sometimes Pecan Dreams.
@HRA: Maybe eggnog cheesecake?
The Russian tea-cakes were my wife’s family’s Christmas tradition; when we married, it became my contribution to chop the nuts. After 20 years, I broke down and bought the slicing drum attachment for the KitchenAid.
If you chop the nuts, or part of the nuts, _really_ fine, youi can substitute more pecans for a portion of the flour.
Today my daughter is making 12 dozen white chip/tart cherry cookies for her cookie exchange tonight. Tomorrow she rolls up her sleeves and does at least another 30 dozen, of three or four kinds : intense thin crispy dark chocolate wafers with crushed candy-cane, the Russian tea cakes, buttery thumprints filled with mint and cherry and apricot jelly — and my son will come over and attempt again to re-animate my family’s nearly-forgotten fudge recipe.
Good thing I have an entire box of Christmas CDs.
Parchment paper rules.