Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I had no idea this was going to happen today!
Fortunately I was prepared. I had already been to several grocery stores and stocked up on all the ingredients necessary to prepare for the upcoming festivities. I decided to make the Christmas cookies that I’d promised my mother-in-law for Christmas Eve.
I use a shortbread cookie recipe that was given to our culinary class by the head pastry chef. The book our chef had was pretty old and beat up and this was in 2013 so I don’t remember the title or author, so I will just include the recipe below. I love this recipe for a couple reasons. For one this dough is not too sweet so I can comfortably pile on the royal icing without fear of overdoing the sugar. For another, the dough is fantastic to work with. It freezes well for long term if needed and it is easy to roll out and cut the cookies. One change I do make is to add whole-wheat pastry flour to give the dough a nutty flavor and you may want to consider adding some vanilla or almond extract if you find the cookies a little too bland.
I mixed the dough and chilled it for 24 hours, then rolled out and cut my shapes. The cookies went into a 350°F for about 20 minutes. I wanted them slightly browned.
Anyone who has decorated cookies knows that the most labor intensive, and arguably the most important aspect, is getting the icing the right consistency. I used Antonia74’s royal icing recipe, which I found on Pinterest. It is similar to many other formulas using both meringue powder and cream of tartar for stabilizing; it also makes a large quantity. I don’t know why but I find it excruciatingly annoying to have to stop decorating and make more icing! I would rather toss half of it than stop to make more!
I gathered all my pearls, sanding sugars, and sprinkles and made white, red, green, black, yellow and sky blue icing. My go to consistency is a 10 second count.
A few short hours later…..
When I finally finished cleaning up, I was shocked to see that it was still snowing. So, time to move onto the fudge. I use the very simple recipe found on the back of the Jet Puff Marshmallow Crème jar. This is one of the few things my mother actually baked and did not buy, as I am not a descendent from one of those families with a strong culinary heritage. In fact, no one in my immediate family was interested in producing home cooked meals. Hence my constant references to the food network and my short stint in culinary school! But this fudge is a keeper.
I use a thermometer and boil until 234°F and then add the rest of the ingredients.
Now I am set for Christmas Eve, just a few items to bake and cook for tomorrow morning then it is off to grandma’s house. Oh, one more thing..
Go HAWKS! Merry Christmas Everyone!
Short Dough I yield: total dough weight 1lb. 9oz.
8 oz. Butter or butter and shortening
3 oz. sugar
1/4 t. salt
2.25 oz. eggs
12 oz. pastry flour
Using a paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar and salt at low speed until smooth and evenly blended.
Add the eggs and mix just until absorbed.
Sift the flour and add it to the mixture. Mix just until evenly blended.
Chill several hours before using.