31 December 2016

The Highly Caloric Holiday Baking Post

This is the post where I list all the unhealthy and delicious things I baked (or ate) in the last month. If you want the reflective, emotional holiday post, click here. To read Emily's Hierarchy of Mint Chocolate Treats, click here. And listen - if you don't have time to read all this nonsense just promise me you'll jump to the bottom and read about Crumb Pie. Just do it!

1. BUTTERED POPCORN COOKIES
For the "cookie crawl" at work I made Buttered Popcorn Cookies from Smitten Kitchen. If you decide to make them, I highly recommend adding the chocolate chips that Joy the Baker adds. It might be fun to make it with M&Ms or something, too. Note that the popcorn will be chewy, not crunchy. But still good. And I like it because it makes for some efficient snacking - saving you from wasting time eating popcorn, cookies, AND chocolate separately. You don't want to waste too much time because you still need to make

2. MOLASSES CRINKLES
This is my grandmother's recipe and one of my All Time Favorite Cookies Ever Ever Ever. It's like a gingersnap but soft instead of hard. And "if you're anything like me, and I know I am," you hate a crunchy gingersnap (or so you thought. See Pfeffernüsse down below.) I have the recipe written out in Jetta's handwriting. It's always a trip down memory lane to make these. Since I know you are going to ask me for the recipe - everyone always does - here it is.
Molasses Crinkles
mix: 
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
sift together:
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
Mix together. Chill dough. Roll into balls (walnut size) and dip tops in sugar. Place 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle a few drops of water over the cookies. Bake @ 325 for 8-10 minutes. 

3. CARAMELS
sea salt caramels
I have no idea what came over me but on a whim one night I decided to make caramels. I thought it'd make a good gift for the staff at the girls' schools. And I thought they looked so cute wrapped in their little parchment papers. Turns out - they're cute and delicious. I made a second batch for family at Christmas. It certainly won't be my last. Here's hoping my beginner's luck holds out! I used this corn syrup free recipe. I would like to try some fancier ones (like this one with pepper!) but would have to succumb to corn syrup.

4. SALTY HONEY PIE
I made this with my mom (who is called Honey) when she visited before Christmas. It was so delicious. We all devoured it before I could even take a picture. It's heavenly.

5. PFEFFERNUSSE
pfeffernüsse
The other thing Mom and I made was Pfeffernüsse - using this recipe. I didn't think I'd like such a crunchy cookie. Wrong! It really is like a "pepper nut" - like the name suggests. All the spice of a molasses crinkle or gingersnap - but with the kick of "pepper," the balance of the powdered sugar, and a nice crunch. Also - great for gift giving!

6. VIN CHAUD
At Christmas, Christy's friend Bruselas transformed my two bottles of Two Buck Chuck into a lovely mulled wine or "Vin Chaud." It's basically orange juice and wine mixed with spices and drunk hot. And even though you wouldn't think of drinking either of those things hot by themselves (and despite the fact that one friend described it as microwave sangria which made me lol my head off), I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. The spice, the wine, the citrus. Perfect for winter. (Even if we're having a weird winter.)
Bruselas' Vin Chaud
1 liter of OJ
2 bottles of wine
1 cinnamon stick + some ground cinnamon
11 cloves or more, actually
Simmer the OJ and spices for a while. Add wine. 

7. PEPPERMINT BROWNIES
I've been on a real mint chocolate kick for the last - I don't know 37 years or so. But recently I've really been parsing out what it is I do and don't love about all mint/choc combos. In the process I decided I should make these Peppermint Brownies. I'm so glad I did.

8. CRUMB PIE
crumb pie dry
Last but not least, I enjoyed (but did not make) a magnificent thing called Crumb Pie. It came to me in a little plastic baggie in a gift box from some dear old friends who visited between Christmas and New Years. It's an old family recipe. It is dry and a bit funny looking. It's basically flour, sugar, and spices and salt "pressed" into lard. Which I don't quite understand. So instead of trying to describe how it's made, let me attempt to describe how it tastes by simply saying that when you pour a little bit of hot coffee - or a little bit of milk - on top of it and let the Crumb Pie and the beverage merge  into a sort of puddling you will find that it tastes like no other heaven you have ever tasted before. Sweet and creamy, spicy and salty. Unless you're one of those weird-os that doesn't like nutmeg/clove/allspice kind of stuff, you will love it and the magic it creates in your mouth.
Green Family Crumb Pie
Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup lard
2 cups sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
Instructions:
Mix the flour, sugar, salt and spices in a large bowl. Cut in lard with a pastry cutter and mix well. Press into an 11 by 16 pan or two smaller ones. For a crunchier crumb pie, press down harder. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cut while warm.
Serving suggestions:
It may be called crumb pie, but you eat it dry like a cookie or mix with milk or coffee and stir into a spice pudding. This was a long time Green family recipe, usually eaten for Christmas morning breakfast. A strange, but yummy concoction. Nothing smells better than this when it's baking!

with coffee
with milk

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