The Christmas Baking Frenzy is On

Christmas 2013

This is the week of non-stop baking in our home. Batches of fudge, peanut blossoms, Date Orange cake, and fruitcake cookies will soon be ready to share – sweet gifts to be delivered to friends.
Now I know that there are lots of jokes about fruitcakes this time of year. And I agree that some are pretty awful.
But this recipe has always been a favorite one in our house and even folks who do not like fruitcake love these little morsels. It will take time because it makes a lot of cookies – so its a good time to write a few notes to friends or wrap some gifts while they bake. Have fun!

Christmas Fruitcake Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs

1 lb dates, cut into small pieces ( I use kitchen shears for this job – so much easier!)
1 lb fruitcake fruit, cut into small pieces ( you can use what you like – all candied cherries or a mixture of citron and cherries- just make sure that you have red, green and yellow fruit)
1 lb pecan pieces

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time until well blended. Sift dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture. Mix well.
Stir in dates, fruit and nuts until incorporated into dough. The dough will be very stiff.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.
Bake 10 minutes at 350 until golden.

These cookies are very pretty and make wonderful gifts. Enjoy!

Christmas Baking – Gingerbread

As I was driving to work this morning, listening to NPR, I heard the most delicious recipe for gingerbread from Nigella Lawson.
You can read the entire article here: Nigellas Tips For A Frugal Yet Festive Holiday http://www.npr.org/2011/12/12/143391781/nigellas-tips-for-a-frugal-yet-festive-holiday?sc=emaf
It just sounds so┬áinviting – I can almost smell the ginger, cinnamon and cloves. And its an old fashioned kind of goodie. Reminds me of my grandmothers and their kitchens, filled with wonderful treats during the Christmas season.
Here is the recipe – I will let you know how it turns out!

Recipe: Sticky Gingerbread

Makes 20 squares

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup molasses

2/3 cup packed soft dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated ginger

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 2 teaspoons warm water

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten to mix

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a roasting pan or ovenproof dish (approx. 12 x 8 x 2-inches) with aluminum foil or parchment paper (if using foil, grease it too).

In a saucepan, melt the butter over a lowish heat along with the sugar, syrup, molasses, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves.

Take off the heat, and add the milk, eggs and dissolved baking soda in its water.

Measure the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. It will be a very liquid batter, so don’t worry. This is part of what makes it sticky later.

Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the pan before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it.

Make ahead tip:

Make the gingerbread up to 2 weeks ahead, wrap loosely in parchment paper and store in an airtight container. Cut into squares as required.

Freeze ahead tip:

Make the gingerbread, wrap in parchment paper and a layer of aluminum foil then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 3-4 hours and cut into squares.

Recipes reprinted from the book Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2011 by Nigella Lawson. Published by Hyperion Books.