Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Baking Begins

Every year I declare that I will bake less cookies and every year my daughter says she will believe that when she sees it.
I can remember when I was just married I use to do all the Christmas baking on Christmas Eve. I would get out of bed at 6:00 a.m. and begin the baking marathon. By noon I would have about four cakes and several types of cookies baked and wrapped up. Half would go to my husband’s family where we would celebrate Christmas Eve and the other half would go to my family the next day for Christmas.

Over the years my cookies and cake recipes grew and making everything on Christmas Eve would be impossible so I would begin baking at the end of November. By mid December my freezer would be full with cookies and cakes. Most were given away as gifts to dear friends and of course to our families for Christmas celebrations.

This year my baking has begun in earnest having baked four batches of cookies so far. I baked the first batch, Vanilla-Walnut Crescents, last weekend with my daughter’s help. They are an easy cookie to put together and the end result is melt in your mouth goodness. I was in the mood to bake today and decided on Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies, a double batch of Date ‘N Walnut Delights, and Lora Brody’s Rugelach from Rose’s Christmas Cookies.
The Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies which I love are from Gourmet magazine. They are flavoured with a hint of orange rind and cinnamon and when they are sliced they remind me of little stain glass windows.

I have been making Date ‘N Walnut Delights for I can’t remember how many years and are a particular favourite of my daughter Andrea. They are full of dates, walnuts and are cooked with butter, sugar and eggs in a skillet on the stovetop and after stirring for about 15 minutes the mixture transforms into a soft paste and when it has cooled, vanilla, cornflakes and coconut are added, formed into balls, rolled in coconut and chilled. I like them best out of the refrigerator.

The Rugelach is a newcomer on my Christmas cookie list that I have been baking for only a couple of years now and is a favourite of my son Steven. There is a bit of work putting them together but overall easy to make and utterly delicious.

I still have a few more batches to bake so stay tuned. I have posted the recipes for Vanilla-Walnut Crescents and the Date 'N Walnut Delights, the other two are in Epicurious.

Vanilla-Walnut Crescents

1 cup butter
2/3 cup icing sugar
2 tsp. vanilla or 2 envelopes of vanilla sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground walnuts
icing sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter; beat in sugar with vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in flour and walnuts. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide dough into 4 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into long thin ropes, about 18 inches long. Cut into ¾ inch pieces; then curve into crescent shape. Arrange crescents ½ inch apart on ungreased baking sheet or parchment and bake in 375 F. oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until no longer soft to touch. Transfer to wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes; Sprinkle generously with icing sugar while still warm. Makes about 8 dozen crescent.

Date ‘n Walnut Delights
A chewy no-bake cookie ball that is prepared in a saucepan for easy clean-up from Robin Hood’s Cookies and Squares.

1 cup chopped dates
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups corn cereal flakes
¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup coconut or sifted icing sugar

Combine dates, walnuts, sugar, butter and eggs in a saucepan or large frying pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until dates soften and mixture is smooth, about 15 minutes.

Set aside and cool for 5 minutes.

Stir in cereal, ¾ cup coconut and vanilla. Cool until easy to handle.

Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in ½ cup coconut or icing sugar.

Chill until firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes about 36 cookies.


breadbasketcase said...

the cookies look great. I've made rugelach (Rose's recipe, from her Christmas cookie book), and the cranberry-pistachio ones from Gourmet--both real winners. I'm always looking for new recipes, and am going to try a cardamom orange sugar cookie from this year. Everything you bake always looks so beautiful!

doughadear said...

Thank you Marie,
I am sure the cardamom orange sugar cookies will taste heavenly. I love epicurious and often look for recipes there. If I have time I would like to make sugar cookies and decorate with icing. If I do I will post them.

Melinda said...

Oriana, your cookies are so pretty.
The pistachio cranberry sounds like one I would especially enjoy. I love the red green colours
But all of them look terrific.
My husband has asked me to make 3 plates full of cookies for his colleagues. I have just finished doing 4 different cookie batters. I will bake them up in 2 days time. I haven't done anything too ambitious. I do have a vanilla sugar cookie that I wanted to posh up a bit but think I will keep it simple with dusting of sanding sugar only.
I think I will try those pistachio cranberry cookies just for us. The more I think about them, my mouth is watering to try them!

doughadear said...

You will love the pistachio cranberry cookies, they are not your ordinary icebox cookies and they are easy to make. The only part that is a bit time consuming is shelling the pistachio, I guess you could buy them shelled but what fun would that be?
I usually don't make sugar cookies though I do like them, but if I have time I will this year.

SN said...

Did you post the recipe for the cranberry pistachio cookies? I made my mom buy me so many pistacio and cranberries that I need new recipes!!
SN - Sabrina

doughadear said...

Hello, nice of you to visit. I didn't post the recipe for the Pistachio Cranberry Cookies, but you can easily find it in Here's the link;
You'll love these cookies.