Sunday, December 13, 2009

Confection Connection

Well the family has made the big time!

My Mom and Sister Diana have been having a Christmas Cookie exchange party for the last ten years. I drive to Toleod over for it when I can - when blizzards or other events do not prevent it! It is always quite a good time.

Last Sunday they were featured in The Toledo Blade, which is after all "One of America's Great Newspapers" it says so right on the Masthead! The article told of how they began the tradition and how they keep it going.

Here is a snap of one of the three tables of cookies that the revelers brought to share!

One of the best things is seeing the houses decorated for Christmas. My nieces counted 23 trees in Diana's house, but I think they were low... They are many and they are themed: snowmen, bears, Santas, gingerbread folk, Suessical, Ohio State buckeyes, frogs, and Noah's ark are the first that come to mind.

If they weren't all in the storage unit, mine would be legion as well. I collect ornaments of snowmen, owls, Curious George, shoes, and a few others. I started a collection of bear ornaments for The Boy his first Christmas - and get him a new one every year. The tree I've building for The husband is, of course, Hot Wheels themed - with an emphasis on Redlines! I miss decorating for the holidays and am going rogue and putting up an unauthorized tree this year. It's not that the Macko's are anti-holidays by any means, just different than the Carpenter's that's all.

We have always been big cookie makers - I'd guess Mom and we girls used to make maybe thirty different kinds each year?

Anyway... Just in case you need a new recipe for holiday cookies, may I recommend one of these? The first one, the chocolate shortbread, has cayenne pepper in it - which always reminds me of the "know-it-all" in the Polar Express. Remember?

You know, Montezuma, the king of the Aztecs...
...would drink quarts of hot chocolate every day.
It was thick as mud and red. He put chili pepper in instead of sugar.
- Get it? Hot chocolate?



· 8 oz. NESTLÉ CHOCOLATIER™ 53% Cacao Dark Chocolate Baking Bar(s), broken into small pieces
· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
· 1 cup packed light brown sugar
· 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
· 1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped


*Preheat oven to 325º F.
*Microwave small chocolate pieces in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; stir. If pieces retain some of their original shape, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature.
*Combine flour, cinnamon and cayenne in medium bowl. Beat brown sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Stir in flour mixture until blended. Stir in pecans.
*Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
*Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

This one is just because my Mom can't have chocolate, so I replaced the mini morsels with fruit and nuts. Frankly it is good for almost any addition - sweet or savory. I also use it for Christmas morning with sausage... I don't add the sugar of course! Let me know what you add!



· 2 sheets (17.25-ounce package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
· 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
· 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
· 1 cup cranberries
· 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


*Unfold 1 puff pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll out to make 14 x 10-inch rectangle.
*Combine cream cheese and sugar in small bowl until smooth.
*Spread half cream cheese mixture over puff pastry, leaving 1-inch border on one long side. Sprinkle with half morsels.
*Roll up starting at long side covered with cream cheese. Seal end by moistening with water. Repeat steps with remaining ingredients.
*Refrigerate for 1 hour.
*Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
*Cut rolls crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Place cut-side-down on prepared baking sheets.
*Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
*Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Here's to a tasty holiday.

If you see any chocolate spritz camel cookies... send them my way!

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