Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cookies

  Today's blog on the Advent Calendar is Christmas cookies.  I don't remember making a lot of cookies when I was small.  Sure when I had small children, we would occasionally try our hand at making decorated sugar cookies, and when they would bring home a gingerbread house made with graham crackers around a small milk carton, we would marvel at the skill.  My grandmothers always made cookies and would share their bounty with us.  But set aside time to make a lot of cookies for Christmas;  I have no recollections of this, until my husband, who has a penchant for all things sweet, started to make cookies for Christmas.  Now the list has grown by the dozen and there are some varieties that we must have on hand every year.

   First are the meringue cookies that my Grandma B made.  With chocolate chips.  Lots of them.  Enough so I can sneak some and no one is the wiser.  I think they are still my favorite.

   Then there is the Mexican tea cakes that Grandma G made.  I never cared much for them until I got older.  Now they never make it to the cookie plate on the Christmas table.  You have to make one batch and watch as they disappear, then a week or so later, make them again so as to have some for the party.  I think my dad likes these the best.

   Of course, if there is time, one has to make date-filled sugar cookies.  Again another favorite of my Grandma B and one which brings back many memories of her.  Every time I've tried to make them, though, the filling is not as smooth, the cookie not quite as good.  Still, I'll keep a tryin'.

   I've given up on making Spritz cookies.  Whether I use butter or margarine, I can't seem to get them out of the cookie press in a decent shape.  I will leave these for others to make.

   My favorite candy, though I don't remember eating it for Christmas exactly was Penuche.  My aunt would make it when we would spend the night at Grandma's house.  It is brown sugar fudge candy.  At least that's the way I remember it.  Another tradition at Grandma's was her version of Plum Pudding with lemon sauce.  You know the kind that you bake in a small coffee can.  I wonder what people use today, now that coffee cans are made of plastic or come in a bag?

   Then my husband brought his family traditions to the table.  His favorites are creme de menthe bars, German chocolate caramel bars, lemon bars and his grandmother's favorite, rum or brandy balls.  We don't have a Christmas season without these family favorites.

Rum Balls or Brandy Balls

1 10oz box of vanilla wafers, crushed and rolled fine.
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped fine
1/2 cup rum or brandy
3 tablespoons corn syrup
granulated sugar

Mix the rum and corn syrup together.  In a larger bowl, mix the wafers, sugar and walnuts together.  Add the rum/syrup mixture and mix.  Shape the dough into small balls about the size of a quarter.  Roll the balls in granulated sugar and put into a quart jar.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.  If they start to dry out add more rum to the container and shake to distribute evenly.  (I prefer using brandy.)

Now that I've brought them all to mind, I better start baking!

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