Are you ready for Christmas? I am not, but my kitchen is! My oven has been rehearsing its favorite carols and humming a happy Christmas Cookie song. You don't know the Christmas Cookie song? Goes something like this:
"99 Christmas Cookies in the jar, 99 Christmas Cookies in the jar. Take one down and pass it around, 98 Christmas Cookies in the jar.
98 Christmas Cookies in the jar, 98 Christmas Cookies in the jar. Take one down and pass it around, 97 Christmas Cookies in the jar.
No Christmas Cookies in the jar.
Crank the oven on and bake some more, 99 Christmas Cookies in the jar."
And now you know how I get through an entire weekend of baking for us, the neighbors, the family, the friends, clients and patrons. Cookies, macarons, truffles, you name it. My fridge and freezer look like some kind of nut case replaced all food groups by just one, sugar. It leans towards that trend the other months of the year, but really I had a chuckle earlier when I reached for the veggies I needed to make ratatouille. I need to start making my holiday boxes and deliver/mail them soon or I am going to break down and start eating them all!
I like to include a variety of down home treats like chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows, biscotti, and more delicate things like truffles, macarons, madeleines, etc... I like bringing my heritage into a bit of everyday style baking. I know I am not the only one and I love all the family recipes popping around on blogs during the holidays. I am learning so much about holiday traditions from other countries and other people. It's like food traveling somewhere new everyday. Thanks to all of you out there sharing with me/us. And if you wish to find a list of tried and true Christmas Cookie recipes, visit Susan's Food Blogga blog where these Pistachio Cocoa Nibs ccokies are heading for her Christmas Cookies From Around The World Event.
Now here is a recipe I tried recently that I think will become a regular in the Christmas cookie repertoire. I found it while reading one of my favorite blogs "Cake On The Brain". Her posts are funny, from the heart and always challenging her self and the way I think about things I deal with everyday. Sometimes I feel jaded by the world I bake for: catering, restaurant, private parties,etc... Her fresh and vibrant perspectives recharge my battery quite often. Go look at her latest macaron creation...with grated dried raspberry on top...how ingenious!! The original recipe is from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet calling for pecans, cocoa nibs and bourbon, which she adapted and which I adapted a little also by using pistachios and Cognac. The result, a delicate crumb, a punch from the cocoa nibs (thanks Lisa for the stash) and a little flavor from home with the Cognac.
Pistachio Cocoa Nibs Cookies:
Makes about 2 dozens
1 cup raw skinned pistachios, finely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tb. Cognac
Combine the butter and sugar, in bowl of electric mixer and beat on high speed until smooth and creamy (1 minute). Add the vanilla and Cognac. Beat in the pistachios and cocoa nibs. Add all the flour at once. Beat on low speed until flour is incorporated.
Form dough into 12-inch log about 2 inches thick. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. At this point you can freeze the log for up to 3 months.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges. Let cookies firm up on the pans for about 1 minute before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Try to save some for the day after, they taste even better 24 hours later. The cookies can be stored in airtight container for at least 1 month.
Two more very important things:
The first one is a shameless plug for a friend: Hannah from Bittersweet just published her first book, My Sweet Vegan.
I am among the lucky few to have received a preview copy and I have to tell you to run and get it, regardless of your dietary preferences. I am not a vegan and yet I am wowed by the delicious recipes she wrote. I made her Lemon Lime Sunshine Bundt cake last night and could not stop nibbling on it all day long. Congratulations on your first book Hannah and I can't wait to see what is up next!
The second one is to tell you about Menu for Hope. Although I realised too late the deadline to send in a participation item, I still urge you to go and donate. The amount raised will go to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa.