Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas goodness

I ended up giving soft tree gifts in trios: One large felt white tree, one red felt tree with a single vintage black silk and wire leaf, and one Tiffany dumpster felt tree with embroidered white stars. I like the way the look as a grove.

Next I got to work making us stockings (better late than never). I cut them out with pinking shears from some lovely wool felt.

I sewed a vintage red velvet flower and black silk leaves on to mine. Joe liked the idea of holly leaves and berries so his have some made from felt and vintage buttons. I made Harlan's with a festive tree and star, complete with an antique gold leather covered button that my grandmother gave me a pack of years ago.

Next, I got super busy in the kitchen. All of Saturday was spent baking and making nougat.

Homemade candy and cookies are always appreciated as gifts, aren't they? Joe had to run off to Target to buy me a candy thermometer, and even then the nougat required two tries. I followed the recipe from Martha's holiday magazine issue, and as I have found in the past, her recipes are not always properly edited. What would you think if you read the following?
"Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 242 degrees on a candy thermometer, 3 to 5 minutes."
I took this to mean that after stirring and cooking for five minutes I should reduce the heat and cook another 3 to five minutes until 242 degrees was reached. Well, it turns out that the only thing necessary to remember is the 242 degrees as an end point. My candy thermometer reached 242 after the candy boiled for only about five minutes, and so after cooking another three minutes I had to dump the whole first batch and redo it. Oh well, live and learn. It came out so soft and marshmellowy, I had to keep it in the fridge once I cut and wrapped up the pieces. Perfection.
Next I baked four kinds of cookies from the holiday issue of Everyday Food. It was all cookies. I had seen the little magazine on the check out line at Pathmark a few weeks back and saw that a great looking recipe for giant ginger cookies was inside. I have been searching for the perfect ginger cookie recipe for a while, and for some reason I did not buy the magazine. Lo and behold, the entire issue was published online so I was able to download a bunch of recipes for free. Perhaps Martha did this for me to make up for the vague nougat direction. Thanks Martha!

After the ginger cookies were complete, I moved on to the black bottom coconut squares. When I finished baking them and allowing them to cook I had to perform the requisite poison test and discovered that they were a bit dry. To jazz it up I melted some Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate and smeared it across the top. I think it may have been overkill, but the end result was like a fabulous, high quality Mounds bar.

The pumpkin chocolate chip squares followed (sorry, no photo, I packed them all up before I took out the camera), but I can assure you that they are divine. Soft and pumkinish and very, very, chocolatey indeed. Last I made a batch of chocolate espresso snowcaps and I ended up using ground coffee from Tillie's instead of the instant espresso called for. The cookies tasted extremely coffeeish but combined with the intense chocolate flavor this worked out O.K.

I thought that since we were on the topic of chocolate that I'd show you the great Japanese chocolate candy I got for Joe's stocking at the Sunrise Mart. I went there in search of the elusive green tea Kit Kat. No luck. Instead I found these lovelies which don't taste half bad considering their origin.

A merry Christmas was had by all, and everyone loved all the goodies I made. Harley J. even got to have a ginger cookie and some pumpkin square. He thinks he's hot stuff now that he can pull himself up and do a victory dance. It amazes me how much that kid smiles. I hope it lasts forever.

No comments: