There are a few foods I make each and every year for Christmas. These food traditions are embedded so deep in me that I don’t feel the holiday is complete unless I have them on hand.
Some recipes have come and gone, others have been added, but these are my favorites:
|I haven't made these YET, but Christmas is still three days away. This is a Google image.|
(This cookie is known by other names, among them, Mexican Wedding Cookies. I have been making these crunchy little nuggets for more years than I can remember. It’s very easy.)
Set the oven at 300 degrees.
1 cup butter (don’t use margarine!)
¼ cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds (unbleached)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix well. Shape with fingers into crescents about 3 inches by 1 inch and ½ inch thick. (NOTE: To ensure consistency in size, I shape them into smallish balls, which is much easier than crescent shapes.) Roll in
Place on cookie sheets. Bake 35 minutes (but watch them so they don't get too brown. Cool. Roll in sugar again. Makes about 36.
Note: If you substitute hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, decrease flour to 1-3/4 cups.
Store in a tin. Keeps well.
Mini pecan pies
1 cup butter
6 ounces cream cheese
2 cups flour
Mix softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add flour in fourths; work into smooth dough. Chill Shape into 1-1/4 inch balls and press into small muffin pans to make shells.
1 box light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Dash of salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans.
Slowly beat sugar into eggs. Mix in butter, salt and vanilla. Place ½ teaspoon nuts in each shell, add filling to about ½ full. Top with more nuts. Bake 25 minutes at 350 until set. Better made 1-2 days ahead. Put waxed paper between layers to store. Keeps well.
Delicious for breakfasts around Christmas time. Nothing could be easier:
1 lb. pork sausage (I use sage flavored)
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups Bisquick or self-rising flour
A shake of cayenne pepper if you prefer it hot, or use hot sausage for similar effect)
A few drops of water if needed for mixing
Mix all ingredients in food processor or by hand. Roll into balls. May be frozen before baking and removing from freezer as needed. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and bake for about 30 minutes. Just watch them to prevent overbrowning. Line cookie sheet with parchment to prevent sticking.
|These are not the "prettiest" Christmas cookies to be found, but they are oh-so-melt-in-your-mouth good!|
Nurnberger Elisen Lebkuchen
(A variation of the traditional gingerbread-type lebkuchen. This recipe, which uses no flour, is from my mother-in-law and my husband’s favorite cookie. She gave me the recipe in grams and I haven’t bothered to translate into ounces, as I have a scale that weighs in grams. I usually double or triple the recipe, as these don’t last long at our house. My mother-in-law always baked these on thin oblaten wafers but I find baking on parchment paper prevents sticking just as well.)
200 grams sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (I don’t always have this on hand so I simply add about ½ teaspoon vanilla to 3 tablespoons sugar for a similar effect)
Big dash ground cloves
1 t. cinnamon
½ shot rum
1-2 drops lemon extract
75 grams candied citron
125 grams almonds
¼ teaspoon baking powder
125 grams ground hazelnuts
Set oven at 350 degrees
Beat eggs and sugars until thick and creamy. Add spices.
Grind citron and nuts together
Mix egg mixture with nut mixture
Bake 25-30 minutes. Best when aged in sealed tin a few days. Half an apply may be added to retain moistness.
(Nuts are best ground with a manual grinder in order to obtain a consistency similar to flour. If ground in a food processor the result is not the same. Regarding the citron, I simply chop it finely so as to not gum up the grinder with stickiness.)
If you bake these, I suggest baking a test cookie before loading up an entire cookie sheet. Why? Because oven temperatures vary and you don’t want these to cook too fast and brown over before getting fully baked. I find my cookies turn out better at 325 degrees and adding about 10 minutes to the baking time.
|A colorful sweet bread for Christmas, and I made it for many years. But it dries out so fast that I have discontinued the tradition.....at least for now. Credit: The Swiss Colony|
I used to bake Christmas Stollen each year, but after so many years of it drying out too quickly, I prefer just making a yeast bread Danish pastry, or purchasing a Panettone.
A new one this year: Linzer Cookies
I have always wanted to make these cookies because of the way they look. I found one of the special cookie cutters this year, so this was my first attempt. I was not at all pleased with the difficulty involved, primarily because the dough stuck horribly inside the little design cut-out for the top cookie. I’m not bothering to post the recipe because I won’t be making these again! But they are quite good.
From the looks of my baking (and I have not featured everything here, as I also made chocolate truffles, haystacks, pumpkin cookies and peanut butter fudge) one might think we do lots of eating around here. The fact is that I give away many of these sweet treats.
Baking is a lot of trouble and takes much time. However, being in the kitchen is one of the ways I enjoy Christmas. Put on the music, light a pine or cinnamon scented candle and bake away!