A Christmas Treat from the North
There are plenty of new Southern Delicacies I've added to my reperatoire this Christmas--from Peanut Butter Fudge to Oreo cookie truffles--there is a seemingly endless list of new comers to the neighborhood cookie tin. But when the third batch of Peanut Butter Fudge arrived at my doorstep, I knew I had to take action--and fast! I went to my treasured box of Nana's Christmas Cookie Recipes. There would be no Christmas Cookie Swaps for us Seattlites! No way! We made cookies each year in our very own kitchen surrounded by Aunts and Great Aunts, sisters and Nana and whipped up all wonder of white flour and powdered sugar confections. But my favorite was always this red and white affair that held my attention for the entire afternoon as I tried to copy my Nana's perfectly-shaped canes.
Here is an assortment of the canes my daughter and I rolled out this year. But wait! This is the end product! I am getting ahead of myself. It's important to start at the beginning, but not with eggs. I surely don't need to give you a recipe for sugar cookies. And besides, if you're a smart Mama, you're going to head out to the grocery store for some of that wonderful stuff in the refrigerated aisle. In the end, whatever sugar cookie recipe or er, product, you use doesn't really matter much--ours was made half with butter and half with shortening and I have a hunch that this is an effort to keep the dough as white as possible. The sugar in our recipe was 100% confectioners' sugar and the creamy result of the blended butter, shortening and powdery sugar was a dreamy, silky blend that resembled icing:
Next, we added the flour and the flavorings. While most sugar cookie recipes call for vanilla--and we added our share of that, they also want you to add something called "almond extract." While this seems appropriate for Russian Teacakes, my eyes fell upon the tiny bottle of Peppermint extract and my mind was set. Just a drop or two. It's strong!
Then you find yourself with a large bowl of deliciousness. It's time to make the great divide. You need an equal amount of white and red.
Wrap them separately in wrap and find a spot for them in your over-full frig. It's worth moving things around a bit, but for heaven's sake don't go to all the work of cleaning the whole thing out even if you're taking pictures for the whole world to see. They'll understand;I know they will, it's the holidays, afterall and leftovers are abundant and will most certainly be used for the multitude who comes visiting. They will. I promise it's worth leaving them in there.
After about an hour, it's time to start making those canes. Call the kids.This is a tradition you'll definitely want to pass on and besides, considering my current skill compared with my Nana's of years ago, I'm thinking that it takes decades of practice to get the canes just right. Roll out two strips of dough that sort of look like worms. Not very appealing at this point.
Gently twist one end and then the other and place on a cookie sheet every which way.
Uniformity may be a virtue in the military, but most definitely does NOT apply here.
There are so many great stories related to the legend of the Christmas Candy Cane and they're worth reading with your children. But the best part of Christmas traditions, is getting to share your own stories of your own family and the moments you shared and the people you shared them with. And, as you share these things with your own offspring, hopefully what they'll get from you is not how weird your family was, but how much love you shared, even if it wasn't always perfectly executed.
December 22, 2012 | Share: