For Christmas 2021, our team is looking forward to celebrating a successful but rather unusual year with some traditional holiday recipes! Check out some of our favorites below:
from Executive Director Anne-Carolyn Bird
We store all of our Christmas ornaments in holiday tins, so after the tree is decorated they are empty – and ready to be filled with cookies! Every year I make at least four kinds: decorated gingerbread and/or sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, thumbprint cookies, and classic chocolate chip. My family’s favorite is the thumbprint cookie, topped with raspberry or peach jam – or Nutella!
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups pecans, finely chopped
- Your choice of jam (or Nutella!)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a bowl, beat together brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg yolk. Stir in flour and salt.
- Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place egg whites and pecans in two separate bowls. Dip each ball in egg whites and then roll in pecans. Place about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb or into center of each cookie. Make sure to not press too far down.
- Bake 13 minutes. Immediately remove cookies from cookie sheet to a wire rack. Let cool 30 minutes. Store unfilled, and top each cookie with jam just before eating.
from Founder and Artistic Director Robert Wood
Here’s a tried and true recipe
that I got from my mother, who got it from our local nature center’s newsletter (my mother typed all of her recipes
on large index cards and always noted the source. Later, she transferred a number of them to an “electronic cookbook”, which she emailed me about ten years ago).
Many, many families have a version of this recipe, but this is the one I grew up with, and that I love. I remember the first time I made it by myself as a kid, I put in baking soda instead of baking powder. Oops! You can tell the vintage of the recipe by the use of vegetable oil, and the assumption that baking chocolate was only sold in 1-ounce squares.
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 squares (4 oz.) unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (the vanilla you get now can be really strong, so I use scant teaspoons for this)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- powdered sugar to roll the dough in – I’ve never measured it, but it’s probably close to a cup
Mix oil, chocolate, and sugar. Blend eggs in one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the dough. Chill overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop teaspoons of dough into powdered sugar and cover all over by rolling. Place 2″ apart and bake 9.5 – 10 minutes; do not overbake (they will be moist).
Christmas time is exciting for me because that means fruit mince pies are abundant. I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver, I tried this recipe of his version of a mince pie with filo and puff-pastry (normally with sweet-short pastry) a few years back when I was with my family back in Oz, and it was a hit.
Fruit Mince Pies
from Artistic Administrator Paul Peers
- 100 g good-quality mincemeat (That’s fruit mince, not meat, should be able to buy a jar of it at Wholefoods or Trader Joes)
- 25 g dried cranberries or blueberries , chopped
- 2 clementines , zest of
- 1 splash sherry or brandy
- flour , to dust
- 250 g puff pastry
- 1 pack filo pastry
- 50 g butter , melted
- 1 free-range egg , beaten
- 50 g flaked almonds
- icing sugar , to dust
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/gas 6. Scoop the mincemeat into a mixing bowl and mix in the dried berries, the clementine zest and the sherry or brandy.
2. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry into a big rectangle about 20cm x 40cm and the thickness of a pound coin (1/8th inch). Thinly spread the mincemeat over the pastry, leaving a 1/2″ gap around the edges. Tightly roll up the pastry, lengthways, like a Swiss roll, place it on a floured tray, and pop in the fridge to firm up.
3. Take two cupcake trays (for 12 cupcakes each) and butter each one lightly with the melted butter. Place one layer of filo pastry over the tray (you may need more than one sheet to cover each tray depending on the size of the sheets) and ease the pastry into each hole. Brush with the melted butter, then cover with a second layer of filo pastry. Brush with butter again.
4. Take the puff pastry roll out of the fridge and, with a sharp knife, cut it into 24 slices. Place each slice, flat-side down, into a filo-lined hole. Brush with the egg and sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top of each little pie, then pop both trays in the oven for about 25 minutes, until cooked and golden brown.
5. Leave to cool, then crack the individual pies out of the trays. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
from Communications Director Alysa Turner
A sweet and sugary Christmas morning tradition – perfect for enjoying with coffee while opening presents by the tree!
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for the work surface
- 1 pkg dry active yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup canola oil, plus more oil for the bowl
- 2 large eggs, separated into one full egg and extra yolk for the dough and extra white for the wash
- 3/4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp cardamomPreparation
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat just until it’s between warm and hot, it should be feel hot but you should be able to keep your finger in it comfortably.
Put the yeast in a large bowl and stir the milk into it. Add a little bit of honey and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining milk and honey, the oil, and one full egg and egg yolk. Stir together. Add the salt and stir again, then add to the yeast mixture. Gradually stir the flour into the liquid ingredients, about 1/2 cup at a time. When the dough becomes sticky and difficult to stir, dump onto a floured surface and knead it by hand, adding a little more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, until smooth and elastic.
Meanwhile, bring a small sauce pan of water to a boil on the stovetop.
Knead the dough into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl.
Cover with a kitchen cloth and put in the oven (turned off) on the middle rack with the pot of now boiling water on the bottom rack (or next to it). Close the oven door and let stand until doubled in size, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently punch the dough down and turn it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough and braid. I usually do a six braid which I learned from YouTube tutorials. Cover with a cloth and let stand until nearly double in size, another 25 minutes or so. You can also let it rise in the oven with hot water again but make sure to remove it before pre-heating.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly beat the remaining egg and white and brush it over the top of the challah loaf. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake the loaves until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes, turning once halfway through and fine-tuning for your oven.