Mexican Chocolate Cookies . . . Daringly delicious

At this time of year visions of sugar plums and baking cookies drift through one’s mind.  Would anyone notice if I don’t bake short bread cookies this year?  Do I really want to make three kinds of biscotti for the cookie exchange party?   If you desire to bake something completely different.  A recipe that is decidedly off the beaten path.  This cookie recipe will have you singing Jingle Bells all the way to your kitchen.

If I was to rate  MEXICAN CHOCOLATE COOKIES I would give it the highest rating.  Definitely a 10!The unusual combination of bittersweet chocolate mellows the heat of black and red pepper and creates a cookie with a flavour that is out of this world.  The cookie is both crisp and chewy.   For a final ying and yang flavour your sprinkle a little Malden salt over the little darlings.  If the salt seems a little daring dust your cookies with a little powdered sugar.  Or both.  The recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

I love this comment from a discerning cookie consumer.    She would have me flying through the night delivering these rather outrageously wonderful creations.

“Dear Mrs. Butterfingers,

You made it sound impossible to live without tasting a few from your Mexican Chocolate delights. That being the case, I feel it only fair that you consider filling your linen lined basket with these yin and yang specialties,  flying throughout the night, while stopping to enter  the  homes of others through open windows, key holes, balconies, or whatever suits for I am loathe to think of such a delivery occurring differently in our fantasy land.  Let it be your magical mystery tour.

I wonder what one leaves to treat the the cookie faerie…….  I expect you would be drawn to bits of french ephemera, exotic spices , rich fabrics and books of poetry. If I knew you were taking flight, samples of each could be  found in a basket that awaits return to you. Enter as you will but I shall be waiting, even if in the arms of Morpheus for I know the faerie often enters under the cover of night”

 

 

OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS CHERRY ALMOND CAKE . . . It’s not too late to whip up this alternative to fruit cake.

The most loved and used  of all my many baking cookbooks is tattered, torn, mended and scribbled.   It has perhaps twenty pages.    More than fifty years ago it came free with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.  It contains the recipe for Wicked Wonderful White Bread and my stand by cinnamon coffee cake.  Every recipe is tried and trued and absolutely delicious in a wonderful old-fashioned way.    The recipes don’t call for exotic ingredients or special equipment.  They are stress free baking recipes perfect for almost any occasion.

I adore anything  baked with cherries, especially at Christmas time.  This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is from the small Robin Hood Cookbook.  It is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.  It makes a generous cake.  Wonderfully generous.  You can cut,  slice and slice and nibble away to your hearts content.  It is a splendid cake for entertaining.  Large enough for second or even third slices.  What could be more perfect. You’ll find this  recipe on my food blog MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

PANETTONE … Italian Christmas Bread

 

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I have been making this gorgeous Italian bread every Christmas for more than thirty years.   Panettone is a sweet bread filled with candied fruit and raisens. Our son  would not consider it Christmas unless this gorgeous bread appeared on the breakfast table Christmas morning.   Terry’s chocolate orange in his stocking is the other most have.  One year when I thought perhaps he had grown too old for this tradition of the chocolate orange I didn’t tuck one into his stocking.  That will NEVER happen again.

If you have a stand mixer this bread is not difficult.  You must allow yourself time so start it early in the day.  Otherwise you’ll end up baking it at midnight. That happened to me one Christmas eve but it did fill our home with the lovely aroma of baking on Christmas eve.

Panettone keeps well and is delicious toasted.  Serve it with a dusting of icing sugar and a little marscapone cheese and you have a heavenly dessert.

This recipe for PANETTONE is so superior to the package product seen in the shops at this time of year you will be happy you have it in your apron pocket.

 

 

 

COOKIES FOR SANTA AND HIS HELPERS . . . OATMEAL CRANBERRY RAISIN “SLICE AND BAKE” COOKIES

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The old-fashioned name for these cookies would be “refrigerator cookies”.    Cookies that benefited from a nap in a cold place.  The clever cook would whip the sweet morsels up.  Tuck them in the refrigerator.   Then cut and bake them at her convenience.

In the hurly burly rush of Christmas preparations one  takes  chilled rolls of cookie dough out of the refrigerator or freezer, and faster them you can recite the “Night before Christmas” your home is filled with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked cookies.

To make ahead refrigerate the cookie mixture for up to three days or freeze the rolls in an airtight container for up to three weeks.  You thaw the frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

The crisp and chewy cookies are buttery rich  and studded with sweet raisins and dried cranberries.  Another indulgence  substitutes the dried fruit for semisweet chocolate chips.

Retire to MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe for OATMEAL CRANBERRY RAISIN REFRIGERATOR  COOKIES.

A GREEN CHRISTMAS WREATH part one

 

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

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I love this time of the year.  I love the rituals of Christmas.  Attending school Christmas concerts.  Singing carols. Viewing the Carol Ships.

 I love all the pageantry.  All the glittering lights and decorations. The bringing out of old beloved tree decorations.  The  baking you do only at Christmas.  Brandy Snaps.  Shortbread.  Panettone. Truffles.

And I love the fragrance of cedar and pine perfuming my home as I make Christmas wreaths.  This year I fastened my wreaths together using brown twine.  I decided it was greener than using wire and easier to tie.

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A ball of twine, scissors and pruning shears  – all the tools that  are required.

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 Gather your greens.   I cut mine from trees growing near my vegetable garden.  If you don’t have this option visit Christmas Tree lots.  They trim branches from trees and the boughs are there for the taking.

 Listen to Charlie Brown’s Christmas music when you are creating wreath magic.  Pour yourself a cup of tea.  Nibble on a shortbread.

This is how the spirit of Christmas begins.

CHRISTMAS SHORTBREAD FINGERS

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The ultimate shortbread is worth its weight in gold.   It must have just the right amount of butter.  Butter creating a rich flavour and  crumbling texture.  Then there should be a whisper of vanilla.  Not too much sugar.  The perfect measure of flour.   There is a joyful sense of the occasion when you make shortbread.  You generally only make this mouth-watering cookie at Christmas, and it is always worth waiting twelve months to enjoy.

What is so wonderful about baking shortbread –  it contains no exotic ingredients.  It is simply butter, sugar and flour.  There are a few secrets to making the perfect shortbread.  I share them with you when you bake CLASSIC SHORTBREAD FINGERS

CRANBERRY MUFFINS … a Christmas morning treat

This is a lovely treat for Christmas morning.   Not too sweet but with a lovely burst of cranberry flavour.  The muffins would be delicious with ham, bacon or sausages.   Muffins freeze well so do some baking ahead and enjoy while you’re opening your Christmas stockings.

Makes l8 small muffins – or 12 large

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.  Lightly grease your muffin tins with butter and use  paper liners to make it easier to remove these  delicate and light muffins.

Have all your ingredients at room temperature.

Scant 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour,     2 tsp baking powder,     1/2 tsp salt,     1/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp(2 oz) unsalted butter, melted,     2 eggs lightly beaten,     3/4 cup milk,     1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries (thawed if frozen) ,     and to finish 1 /34 oz/50 g Parmesan cheese freshly grated .

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Stir in the sugar.  Combine the butter, eggs, and milk in a separate bowl, then pour into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Stir just until all of the ingredients are evenly combined, then stir in the cranberries.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared  muffin cups.  Sprinkle the finely grated Parmesan cheese over the top.  bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until risen and golden.

Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool slightly in the pans.  Put the muffins on a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Cook’s Note:  For a sweeter alternative, replace the Parmesan cheese with brown sugar.

This recipe can be easily doubled.  Why not!!!