Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A small bit of Christmas baking

I have such great timing... just as Christmas is passed and 2010 is ending I finally get some Christmas baking posted. Well, there is always next year for me to be more organized!  We can always think on the bright side; some of this baking could be enjoyed througout the year - really, who wouldn't want butter tarts in June?!
So here is what I baked this year:

 Salted Caramel Earl Grey Macarons - this was so much easier than all the other foodie blogs said it would be.  And our first macarons had feet! (if you know anything about making perfect macarons you will know exactly what this means).  The whole process was very involved.  It all started on Wednesday night by leaving the eggs out (on the counter to age at room temperature) to be baked with on Friday night.  I know, I know some of you out there are cringing at the thought of using old room temperature eggs.  But there is a method to this madness, you can incorporate more air into old room temperature egg whites and therefore taller, fluffier meringue and macarons with beautiful feet. 
There are beautiful photos and a great recipe to follow.

Lemon Cranberry Sandies - I made these last year with a ginger variation as well.  I think that these will become a standard Christmas cookie from my kitchen. (recipe below)

Orange Ginger Sandies - a new variation for this year.  These turned out good, mild in the orange & ginger flavour but a nice change from the lemon cranberry.

Whipped Shortbread - Inspired by many other shortbreads that I enjoyed through the holidays.  For this one I used Mom's recipe and it turned out great. 

Butter Tarts - a Christmas favourite as well a Christmas classic.

Cranberry Eton Mess - this is an amazing English dessert.  Similar to Pavlova except the meringue is not soft on the inside and it is served in a small glass bowl or cup.  It is still topped with fruit - cranberries as they are the fruit of the season (but any fruit compote could be used) and whipped cream.

Cranberry Sauce
1 part liquid - could be water, orange juice, port, brandy, red wine... the options are almost endless
Sugar - the amount required will depend on your liquid so adjust to your taste
3 parts fresh or frozen cranberries

In a medium saucepan, simmer liquid, sugar and cranberries until berries are soft and sauce is thickened. Cover and chill.  A nice variation on this could be to add in cinnamon and cloves to the sauce - this would give a warm wintery spice to it. 

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 250F. In a clean stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy and small peaks barely form; slowly add in sugar, a spoonful at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture holds stiff peaks. It should have the consistency of whipped cream and there should not be any sugar granules left in the meringue.  There are a few options to the baking shape now.  Quenelles as you can see I made, a large flat cake shape (about 1 inch or so thick - crumbled before serving), or piped into pretty shapes (beware that the shapes may not hold through baking).

On a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, until dry. Cool.  This will make enough for about 4 servings.

Lemon Cranberry Christmas Sandies

1  cup  butter, at room temperature
1/2  cup  icing sugar
1  teaspoon  vanilla
2  cups  all-purpose flour
1  cup  finely chopped dried cranberries*
2  teaspoon lemon zest

Coloured sanding sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Cream butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add icing sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl. Add in vanilla and flour. Gently stir in cranberries, lemon zest.
2. Shape mixture into 1/2-inch balls and roll dough in sanding sugar. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. (if your cookie batter is soft the cookies may spread out as they are baking - not a bad thing but it surprised me)
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are light brown. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Makes about one hundred forty-four 1/2-inch cookies.
*Tip: Place dried cranberries in a food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped. Or finely chop cranberries by hand.

Change lemon zest to orange zest and add in finely chopped apricots instead of the dried cranberries.
Add in 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger & cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves & freshly grated nutmeg. The measurements of the spices is completely experimental - feel free to add more for more of a gingerbread flavour.  I was thinking to give these a real gingerbread flavour they need molasses.  I have an idea for that - back in the kitchen and we'll have to see how my idea turns out.

So that is Christmas Baking of 2010, see you all in 2011 for another great year of cooking adventures.

No comments:

Post a Comment