Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Happenings

Have I mentioned my holiday baking this week? Oh....just every day. Yesterday was no different, except in that it didn't go quite as smooth as the other forays into holiday cookery. The day before the first grade Holiday Party (we can't call it a Christmas Party anymore these days) was the day to bake my designated "sweet treat". Yea, the kids these days get one "sweet treat" per "holiday party" in addition to a "healthy treat" and a treat bag sans snacks. Treat bags may only contain Happy Meal-esque toys, pencils, stickers et al. Forgive me, I digress.

So Wednesday was the appointed "sweet treat" baking day. I had selected one of Food Network's 12 Days of Cookies to prepare for our angelic partyers. I chose The Neely's Candy Cane Cookies for their festive color and seemingly simple recipe. I need 18 candy canes for my 18 party-goers. I mix up a batch of dough and proceed to divide it in half and color one half green and the other red. Let's just say that you can get a full 30-minute workout adding 3 drops of food coloring to a sugar cookie dough.

With cookie dough festive in green and red, I rolled it out and cut it into even strips to co-mingle them into delectable and attractive canes. Ummmmmm......the strips won't come up off the counter where I rolled them out. In the warmth of my post-snow day kitchen (including a pre-warmed oven) and my handling of the dough it simply is like butter . . . .1 whole stick of room-temperature butter to be exact. Okay so I quick think what can I do and decide every sugar cookie recipe calls for refrigerating the dough before rolling it out. I pop each color into a wax paper cocoon and place it in the fridge. I go about cleaning up and prepare a double batch of my great-grandmother's Date Nut Swirls (see recipe below).

Having been cooled for 40 some odd minutes I deem the dough cold enough to re-roll and, if I work quickly enough, ready to twist into festive canes worthy of any first grade "holiday party". Round Two. Ahhh, yes, this is much better. It rolls out much stiffer and the first few canes are a breeze to assemble. However, the situation quickly deteriorates and the strips start coming apart as I twist. I am determined, however, to bake these damn candy canes! I proceed at a furious pace and twist and twirl and patch together the 10 canes as best I can. ??? TEN canes? Did I get TEN candy canes? A quick check of the recipe does indeed confirm what I distinctly remember from my original read of the makes a mere ten candy cane cookies. I have to go through this ordeal a second time? ::headsmack:: I don't have the patience to do it all over again immediately and decide to prepare the second batch after I pick the girls up at school.

All in all, the second time around went better than the first, mostly from having the experience of the first batch. They turned out pretty good albeit a little puffy (which the recipe does say will happen).

And for the patient reader, that delicious recipe for Date Nut Swirls from great-grandma. A holiday tradition every year at my home.

Cream together:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 beaten egg
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Date Filling:
1/2 lb. chopped dates
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)

Combine dates, sugar and water for date filling in a saucepan and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and salt. Cool.

Roll dough 1/4" thick. Spread with date filling, roll up and chill overnite in wax paper. Slice and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° until light brown.


Anonymous said...

Aahhh....Date Nut Swirls! I can vouch for the yumminess of these cookies! Next year...we are going to need a double on those, Sista...

It's Just Me said...

just popping in....