Posts Tagged 'Christmas'

Pipe Dream #168: To Be A Guilt-Free Addict Instead – Peppermint Meringues

peppermint meringues 3

Here is how I could start this post:

“Peppermint Meringues: An Guilt-Free Addiction. These little buggers can be the spice of your life, especially in January, month of sugar overdose cleanse. Seriously, they’re like 15 calories a pop, perfect if you need a sweet but don’t feel like busting out a butter cake.”

But here is the thing. When you eat these, it won’t necessarily erase any post-holiday guilt you may be feeling. Party after party of canapes and cookies? Yeah, don’t act like you didn’t indulge a bit. Actually, I won’t act like I didn’t indulge a bit, because I did, and I won’t put words in your mouth. :]

Guilt is basically the result of feeling like we don’t measure up quite well enough, right? We all have different ways of coping with it. None of them are really healthy, because nothing we can do can really make us measure up to perfection. One thing I am really glad about today is this verse in Isaiah 6:

“With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

It sounds super obscure and weird, right? And it kind of is, unless you read the story, but the thing that is blowing my mind is this: Not only does Jesus take away my imperfection, he actually takes away my guilt too. Imperfection gone, guilt gone, so I don’t have to live under it anymore.

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Some days, I wish that I could let these peppermint meringues touch my lips and be completely guilt-free, but that’s not how it works. I still deal with self-inflicted guilt over what-have-you. Verses like that help to remind me that I don’t have to.

So point of the story, you can make these to try and relieve post-holiday guilt, but they are a very poor substitute. A very delicious, poor substitute that looks like Whos from Who-ville.

peppermint meringues 1

This is the first time I have baked my meringues in a true low ‘n slow fashion. (Usually I’m too impatient.) Instead of a quick-baked version that turns out hollow and a little chewy, these meringues are solid all the way through and light as air. Combined with the cool little food-dye party trick, these turned out to be pretty successful, yeah?

That’s all for now, folks,

L

Peppermint Meringues

2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup regular or superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar and peppermint extract, and beat mixture until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually, beating the batter until it is stiff. Drop a few drops of red food coloring (gel or liquid) on the top of the meringue, but don’t stir it in. Spoon meringue into a piping bag, then pipe batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until light and crispy , but not brown. Let cool on baking sheets on a wire rack.

Favorite Shots: Christmas Upon Us

thanks table 4

thanks table 3

thanks table 1

Warning: The following verse is so good. Better than that steaming turkey from Thanksgiving (or Christmas, if you buck trends. You trend-bucker, you). CHRISTMAS IS UPON US.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14

Goodbye ’til next year. I’m taking a couple weeks off. Be well!

L

Cookie Exchange: Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

choc sugar cookie 1

Why do I decorate sugar cookies?

I almost loathe it because it requires perfection, a trait of which I am in short supply. It also requires back-bending concentration for hours on end. And it requires whipping eggs whites.

dark choc sugar cookie 7

I think I do it because I feel like it is the “thing” at Christmas-time. Like, everyone’s family decorates those thin sugar cookies together. It’s weird that I think this because my family never did it. We do our Christmas cookies more like this.

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Perhaps I do it because they end up usually pretty much as cuteness.

There are several different ways you can frost these. I tried out a bunch of ways this year based on my mood/event:

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dark choc sugar cookie 3

Way #1: Straight Up Royal Icing

No flooding on these babies, just classy piped royal icing and dragees.

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Way #2: Royal Icing + Flood Icing

This is probably the most finnicky way. Plan out a whole day, so that you don’t stress out about being at fun things on time and then get impatient about your piping.

dark choc sugar cookie 8

Way #3: Milk & Powdered Sugar

This is the quick ‘n dirty way of frosting cookies. For this batch, I made the glaze thick enough that I could spread it with the back of a spoon, which was the perfect method for the cookie-decorating party I was going to. However, if you are doing a seriously large batch, like the 500 cookies I made at school in England last year, you can go so far as to dunk the entire cookie in a thinned out glaze. Beware, your counters might look a bit like this when you’re through.

You could also try just dusting them with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I love the contrast of the dark cookie with white frosting.

dark choc sugar cookie 2

dark choc sugar cookies b

The cookie recipe made over 100 cookies for me, providing ample supply for approximately 1 church event, 1 work event, 1 card club hosting and our family’s various cookie exchanges. They freeze well, so I just made a big batch of cookies one night, and then took them out in small batches to decorate and serve.

Go crazy, friends! You know, if you want to literally go crazy trying to decorate that many cookies. Might wanna halve this one, as it is only, oh, 5 days before Christmas.

L

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

You can find Sweetapolita’s recipe here.

You can find a royal icing recipe on my blog here.

If you want to go the milk/p sugar route, just mix 1/4 cup powdered sugar with milk or water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until you reach desired consistency.

Cookie Exchange: Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread

This is the first in a series of posts called Cookie Exchange. My family (aka my mom and I) make traditional Huisinga Christmas cookies every year. Dozens and hundreds of cookies. After participating in the classic American cookie exchange with our extended family and friends, our family usually has enough frozen cookies to last us ’til kingdom come. (That is, unless kingdom comes in March, in which case, we would still have a few honey cookies left.)

I thought it would be neat to share the cookies we make every year and maybe inspire some traditions in your house. It would also be sweet if you all would pipe up on your favorite Christmas cookies in the comments. I’d love to try something new! Sound good? Good.

Now, on to the cookies. This is actually my variation on the recipe my mom has made for years. Typically, she uses dried cranberries, but I don’t particularly like that they have added sugar in them. Plus, we had fresh cranberries in the house, and how often does that happen? In addition to the fresh cranberries, I also included a sprinkling of sea salt on the top, which I realize is a bit foodie-ish of me, but let me tell you–it was a great addition. I used unsalted butter in the shortbread, so I chucked some regular salt in the dough as well.

The white chocolate offsets the tartness of the cranberries so, so beautifully. The cranberrries weren’t even as tart as I thought they might be; I’m thinking of dialing back the sugar a bit next time, and perhaps the butter, as the moisture in the fresh cranberries made for a very soft shortbread. Girl wants a bit more crunch sometimes.

But of course, they look perfectly festive. Crunch or no crunch, I’m in a holiday mood.

Happy bakes,

L

Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 cups unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

6 ounces white chocolate (chips or a chopped bar)

flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the table salt and flour, a cup at a time, and mix until well blended.

Give the cranberries a rough chop, or pulse about seven times in the food processor. Add the cranberries to the dough along with the white chocolate, and mix until well blended.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with a touch of sea salt, then flatten slightlly with the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, according to your preference. Let them firm up on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. These freeze well!

Pipe Dream #86: To Explain The Exclaim

I went to Neurnberg! It was sweet! There were cathedrals!

There were lonely people!

There were vistas!

There was music!

 

There were castles!

And there were friends.

What a happy day,

L


Favorite Shots: The Holly And The Ivy

I’m taking a little break over Christmas. I’ll be back for real January 9th, and I might throw in a post here and there while I’m gone (like my Christmas shots of Rothenburg?!), but as it stands, this is my last official post before we break.

Which is why I am a little sad about this shot. I know it isn’t very great. I mean, the focus is bad. But look what it is! Holly and ivy! As in “The Holly and The Ivy” English Christmas carol! It is so dang appropriate.

And now, in order to make up for that photo which isn’t technically great but involves a lot of life points for me, I wish to present you with a gift of the sort I am able to give you for our first Christmas together. You and I. Reader and writer. Hi.

This is Christmas in the form of a sheep. I named it Kringle. You’re welcome.

L

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great, to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”

Micah 5: 2 ff

Pipe Dream #75: To Believe They Exist – Unicorn Sugar Cookies

Ok. Do I even need to write anything?

Yes, I suppose I do. But aren’t you even freaking out about how cute these are? I mean, I know I am not really normal sometimes, but seriously. I was freaking out.

I was especially flippin’ because I had never tried this recipe or icing technique before. Never been a cookie decorator have I. Plus, I don’t exactly have a set of cookie cutters with which to cut cookies for decoration and consumption. This one was lent to me for the occasion.

In the past, I have skipped over the traditionally frosted sugar cookies, like the ones you get on a cookie plate at Christmas? They are cute, but they always seem super thin and overbaked. Overall, not worth the calories that could be spent on peanut butter blossoms or gingersnaps or something.

These are special though. I took care to roll these out a little thicker. The result was a slightly soft sugar cookie with a bit of snap left. Far better than the sugar cookies I’ve eaten in the past.

In honor of these cookies, I have slightly adapted a quote from my dear aunt:

“Really excellent sugar cookies are like unicorns. They sound really great, and you’d really like to believe that they exist, but you’ve never actually seen one.”

Well, you’ve thought about them, hoped after them, and now you have finally seen them, folks. The ultimate sugar cookie.

Never fear, the icing tutorial is coming later this week. Then you will know. :] :] :] Gosh, these cookies are so fun.

Wishin’ and hopin,’

L

Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies

From Bake At 350

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (Bridget recommends freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking, but I didn’t do it.) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.


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