We've baked up a plethora of tasty Christmas cookies, and cooked up some yummy candy too! The kids have even been in the mix on some of the rolling, cutting and decorating... They especially loved helping with the Finnish Gingerbread Snowflakes.
Grandma's Best Ginger Cookies (adapted from Entertaining The Finnish Way)
Makes about 10 dozen
1 1/4 c. butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. dark syrup (I used about 1/2 c. molasses and 1/2 c. dark Karo corn syrup - they don't have molasses in Finland)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbs. grated orange rind (I didn't have, so used 1/8 tsp. of Chinese Five Spice)
about 7 c. of flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose unbleached)
3 tsp. baking soda
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F, bake cookies for about 10 minutes per batch. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat until fluffy. Mix spices into syrup in a glass Pyrex measuring cup and heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and pour into butter/egg mixture. Beat to combine. Slowly add the flour (and all the baking soda) about 1/2 at a time.
The original recipe says to cover the dough in plastic and leave overnight in a cool place before rolling, cutting and baking. I made mine early in the day, put it in a gallon Ziploc, and left it in a cool place until the evening when I rolled cut out and baked about 1/2 the batch. Then I stored the remaining dough in the fridge for 2 days until I did the additional 5-dozen snowflakes.
**Icing for Christmas Cut-outs**
2 Tbs. soft butter
2 tsp. extract (vanilla, lemon, almond, rum... whatever you prefer)
4 c. powdered sugar
enough milk to achieve the consistency that you want (for piping or spreading)
a couple drops of food coloring as desired
Pate de Fruit (you can change the flavor of this candy by using whatever fruit you prefer)
recipe adapted from SELF Magazine, December 2008 issue
2 c. defrosted frozen strawberries (we used mango and papaya)
1 3/4 Tbs. apple pectin powder (found at health food stores) mixed into 3 Tbs. sugar
1 3/4 c. sugar
3 1/2 Tbs. light corn syrup (or Agave Syrup is even better!)
2 tsp. lemon juice (we used lime juice with our fruit choice)
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. Blend defrosted fruit in blender until smooth. Pour into saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle apple pectin powder/sugar mixture together over the fruit in pan and continue to cook over medium heat (reduced from medium-high) for about 2 mins. Add the additional 1 3/4 c. sugar in three batches, stirring after each and waiting about 15 seconds before adding each consecutive batch. Then add agave (or corn) syrup and cook until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in citrus juice, then pour mixture into prepared pan and spread out in an even layer. Let set for at least 2 hours, then cut into desire shapes and toss in additional sugar to coat.
Coconut Snowball Crisps
(adapted from Everyday With Rachael Ray December 2008)
3 large egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. sweetened shredded coconut
2 c. Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 c. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 200-degrees F (they bake for one hour). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed of mixer with whisk attachment until thick and foamy, then add sugar and once incorporated, beat on high for about 5 minutes (until firm and glossy).
In another bowl, toss together the additional three dry ingredients, then fold the coconut mixture into the egg whites when ready. Scoop with small cookie scoop into parchment-lined sheets. They can be fairly close together since these cookies do not spread at all, and are basically drying out in the 200-degree oven for 1 hour (until firm and dry to touch). A good cookie to do at the end of a baking day.