The halcyon days of the holidays is now upon me with twelve types of cookies and five types of candies, cooked, boxed, and ready to be assembled and given away. Yeah!
Starting in mid-October, I turn into Martha Stewart and start plotting out the cookies, and this year, candies, that I want to make. I then tally up the ingredients that I’ll need and set about purchasing. The latter can take several weeks if I need an esoteric ingredient like rose water to make Turkish paste.
This year, I needed 18 eggs, 7 pounds of butter, 20 pounds of flour, 15 pounds of sugar, coffee powder, chocolate, three types of chips, 5 types of flavorings (mint, peppermint, almond, vanilla, and lemon), an orange, oatmeal, powdered sugar… several types of nuts, and candy canes.
Prior to this madness, in early October, I cut up pounds of candied fruits, nuts and dates for mini-fruitcakes. I then marinate everything for a week or two in rum. This year, I made over 100 mini-cupcakes and three little loaves. These yummies are basted several times with more rum, prior to packaging in late November.
The week before cookie-making, I made a candy-a-night for five nights. They were:
- Turkish Delight or Paste. The recipe I chose used gelatin. The resulting candy was very tasty and somewhat similar to Knox Blox. I then tried another recipe, that seemed more authentic using walnuts, cornstarch, and rose water. Many years ago, I decided that I hated cornstarch and switched to rice and tapioca flour… which usually provide the same stiffening properties as cornstarch. Well, my second batch of Turkish Delight will be used on top cake as a sauce. It didn’t thicken!
- Fudge. Cheated and used sweetened condense milk and chocolate chips. Success!
- Peanut brittle. Rich and I panicked at the end and the peanuts weren’t evenly distributed, but the brittle looks and tastes good.
- Cappuccino caramels. I wrote about this darlings in an early blog posts. They’re so hard that they should be labeled as "dangerous" if chucked at one’s eye.
- Macaroons. Easy to make with coconut and sweetened condensed milk. I’m starting to appreciate the ease of using this product!
On the cookie front, there was:
- Israeli sugar. I’ve been making this recipe since my late teens. It’s made with oil and not margarine so they’re very crisp. I like to sprinkle sugar crystals on the top after them prior to baking.
- Cappuccino thins. Decadent thin cookies made in food processor using chocolate, coffee powder, cocoa, butter, and flour. The resulting dough is very soft and rolled into logs using plastic wrap then refrigerated until firm.
- Peanut butter squish. I used fresh ground peanut butter. They’re rolled into small balls then "squished" with ornate ceramic stamps.
- Pepper. Rich puts fresh ground pepper on EVERYTHING. I thought I’d pull a fast one with this recipe, which called for fresh ground pepper, cardamom, allspice, cloves, etc. This cookies is so tasty!
- Spritz. Rich is the Spritz King. He handles the Spritz gun as if it’s a fine instrument. This year, we made white and green Spritz cookies
- Mexican wedding cakes. These are scrumptious balls of finely chopped walnuts, butter, flour, and powdered sugar.
- Oatmeal. I added butterscotch chips and white raisins this year.
- Chocolate chip. This year, I used chopped Heath bars instead of chocolate chips. The resulting cookies were a little soft, but exceptionally tasty.
- Dark chocolate with mint chips. I made a chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute some of the flour for cocoa then added mint chips with mint flavoring.
- Thumbprint. Heavenly with raspberry and apricot/pineapple jams.
- Ginger coin. This cookies are the size of quarters, but super easy to make with candied and ground ginger.
- Peppermint pinwheels. Slice cookies can be so challenging to make!!! I decided to tempt fate and make a white layer that was rolled with a pink layer made with ground candy canes, peppermint flavoring, and red food coloring. Pinwheels are nasty hard to make!
How do I make twelve different types of cookies without going nuts, you ask. Simple. I gather all of the necessary ingredients, which I’d previously scoped out and purchased. I then plugged in the handy-dandy KitchenAid mixer/masher/grinder/etc. that Rich recently bought me for our anniversary.
I then start with the lightest dough, such as Spritz or sugar. The margarine and sugar is blended, followed by eggs and flavoring. The dry ingredients are then poured into the mixer as it’s running. I’m was astonished at the time-savings of using the KitchenAid!
The completed doughs are placed in plastic wrap, labeled then placed in a tin or container. My manager had given me five flat tins that provided INVALUABLE for storing the doughs.
This year, I made all twelve doughs in one day… marathon Sunday.
The following Friday, the doughs were loaded into a large ice chest (above) and brought to Mount Vernon along with a box full of of necessary cooking gear — rolling pin, lucky wooden rolling board from my Grandmother, Spritz gun, cookie cutters, parchment paper, spatulas, seven air cookie sheets, four cooling racks, hot pads, etc.
That evening, Rich and I made three drop cookies. Saturday morning, I launched into the time-consuming sugar cookies, followed by three other types of cookies. We then broke for lunch and errands. When we returned, we tore through the remaining five batches.
Rich and I are very consistent in responsibilities. I assemble the cookies, except the Spritz. He’s in charge of baking and cookie removal. I then transfer the cooled cookies to plates then containers.
For the past few months, I’ve been purchasing interesting dishes at the Bellevue Goodwill. This afternoon, I placed the cookies and candies on these dishes, wrapped them in colored plastic wrap… and will bring them to people that we’ll be seeing tomorrow at Thanksgiving!
When we return, from Thanksgiving in Camas, Washington, I’ll assemble several other boxes of cookies to send to friends and family… and the people at the work.
What’s left will be frozen and enjoyed by Rich and I throughout next year!