I don't know about your holiday traditions, but around my house, the ovens are always cranked into full gear so that my favorite scents of the season - ginger, cinnamon, and cloves - linger sweetly in the air!
In this second and special holiday issue of Sugar Buzz, I share with you an heirloom Usher family cookie recipe that has come to signify "Christmas" in my house. (It seems everyone's got some goody that conjures up Santa, sleigh bells, and the spirit of giving in one bite. After all, it's our memory - not our tastebuds or our eyes, as some insist - that is the first and last arbiter of good taste, right?)
This issue also provides hot leads to the season's best cookie decorating tips and ideas for minimizing expense and waste by designing your holiday party around items that might otherwise be headed for the garbage can. (In my book, a green Christmas is just as nice as one that's white!) I hope you enjoy these holiday gifts, from my home and heart to yours!
Live life sweetly,
|Feature: The Meaning of |
Christmas . . . Cookies?
Christmas Morning Croissants(4 dozen 2 1/2-inch crescents)
So, what's Christmas mean to you? Chocolate-peppermint bark, maybe? Or good ol' Pecan Sandies? Or perhaps the classic thumbprint, pressed extra exuberantly to permit the maximum amount of raspberry jam on top? For me, it's these flaky cookies shaped like mini-croissants, which my Mom used to make every Christmas morning. Before my sibs and I could see what Santa had brought, we had to clean the plate. Perhaps this explains why I taste the anticipation of the holidays in each and every bite!
1. Make the dough: Stir 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl. Cut in 2 sticks cold unsalted butter. Whisk together 3/4 cup sour cream, 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; then gradually stir into the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions, flatten into disks, and chill 2-3 hours or until firm.
2. Make the filling: Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup toasted walnut halves, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a food processor. Process to a fine powder.
3. Shape into crescents: Roll each disk of dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/8 inch thick). Sprinkle each round with one-third of the filling and cut into 16 wedges. Starting at the widest end of each wedge, roll up the dough to form a small crescent. Repeat until all the dough is used.
4. Bake: Place the crescents on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and brush the tops lightly with beaten egg white. Bake in a preheated 375F oven about 15-17 minutes, or until lightly browned on the top and bottom. Best served warm!
Favorites: Dessert Professional
Whether you're a professional baker or aspiring to be one, I think you'll find Dessert Professional truly inspiring.
It routinely features recipes and decorating tips from the nation's best chocolatiers and pastry chefs. (Though, admittedly, I'm biased. You'll soon learn why.) Back in June, I celebrated Christmas early when asked to write and style a cookie decorating feature for this month's issue (cover, left). The text was excerpted from Cookie Swap, but the photos were specially styled by moi to fit the very vibrant red and green holiday theme seen in these teaser shots. Thanks to my sister-in-law Karen Forsythe for finessing the day's finicky lighting and taking such wonderful shots!
A Green Christmas
If you find the mad mass consumerism of
Christmas too excessive, then do as I do and
simplify the season by repurposing the wealth
you already have into handmade party invitations,
favors, and gifts. Avoiding the malls also makes
for a happier, healthier Earth! For ideas, visit
Recipes for a Sweet Life, my site full of recipes,
entertaining tips, and other prescriptions for
Cookie Swap Tour 2009 Winds Down, While 2010 Ramps Up!
I often get asked if my 100-stop book tour has been worth it. The simple answer: yes! Sure, I have a Twitter and Facebook problem (cut me off for a few hours and I go into withdrawal), but there's no better way to connect with readers than in the flesh. It's been immensely rewarding to make friends of fans over the last 4 to 5 months. So rewarding, in fact, that I'm already plotting more pitstops in 2010! Here's the current lineup:
'Tis the season for cookies - and cookie press coverage! One of my favorite Cookie Swap reviews is from the Chicago Trib, where Food Editor Barbara Mahany captures the real heart and soul behind Cookie Swap. That's right, there's a lot more to it than pretty cookies, though my book jacket (above) may lead you to believe otherwise!
|Don't forget to contact me if you have recommendations for future Sugar Buzz articles or content. I'd love to hear them! Also, send your favorite Christmas cookie recipe by December 20, and I'll choose a winner to get a free Cookie Swap! Wishing you and your family the sweetest of holidays!