Tag Archives: Christmas

Snickerdoodles

We are into December and just had our first snowfall of the season.  It was very pretty but I was glad to be inside watching a Christmas movie and planning which cookies to make for Christmas.

Christmas Tree

When I want to bake an old fashioned cookie for Christmas, I immediately think of Snickerdoodles.  That is such a funny name for a very delicious cookie.  I have been baking this cookie at Christmas time for many years.  The recipe is in Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, a vintage cookbook first published in 1963.  I have a well worn copy of this cookbook that was reprinted in 1976 and passed down to me by a favorite aunt.

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Snickerdoodle is similar to a sugar cookie except that is rolled in a mixture of ground cinnamon and sugar.  It also has cream of tartar which helps to activate the baking soda.

Some food historians attribute the cookie as being a New England recipe [English origin] or from the Pennsylvania Dutch [German origin].  Printed recipes for the cookie appeared in the early 20th century.  One recipe that appeared in a 1902 cookbook: A Collection of Tried Recipes Contributed by Estherville [Iowa] Housewives is very similar to the one in the Betty Crocker cookbook, only it does not use shortening.  Source is The Food Timeline and can be found here.

However the cookie originated, I’m just glad we have this vintage cookie that will make you think Christmas.  You may just want to add this delicious cinnamon-sugar cookie to your Christmas cookie tray.

Snickerdoodles

Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping

2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Cookies

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then add to the butter mixture.  Beat  to combine.

Topping

In a small bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon.  Set aside.

Shape the cookie dough into 1-inch balls  and roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Arrange the dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from cookie sheet to a wire rack.  These cookies will puff up at first, then flatten out.    

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Notes:
1.  Recipe makes approximately six dozen 1-inch cookies.
2.  The baked cookies freeze well.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin Scene

I am always happy when October rolls around.  I think it is our prettiest season here in Michigan.  It is also when the locally grown pumpkins start to appear in the Farmers Markets and farm stands.  I love their bright orange color and their different shapes and sizes, even the giant ones.

Giant Pumpkins

Pumpkins have been grown in North America for thousands of years and are a native plant.  In 1584, French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America.  He found what he described as “gros melons”.  The name was translated into English as “pompions” and over time has become known as the pumpkin.  Source

There are so many delicious recipes than can be made from pumpkins.  A Google search reveals a lot of recipes from sweet to savory.

My favorite way to cook with pumpkin is a traditional Pumpkin Pie.  I always bake two pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Here is a link to my post for a recipe for traditional pumpkin pie, made with either fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin.

However, this year I am adding another kind of pumpkin pie to our dessert menu for Thanksgiving.  It is an easy no bake pumpkin pie with a rich creamy filling that has a delicious light taste of pumpkin and the tang of cream cheese.  It is perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (approximately 24 cookies )
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2  teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1  cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the crushed gingersnaps, sugar and cinnamon.  Mix in the  melted butter until thoroughly combined.  Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, evenly covering the bottom and sides.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the crust is set.  Remove the pie crust from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

For the Filling:

Place a medium-sized mixing bowl and beaters of an electric mixer into the freezer while you make the cream cheese and pumpkin filling.

Beat the softened cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and beat until smooth.  Set aside while preparing the whipped cream.

Pour the cream into the chilled mixing bowl.  Beat the cream until it begins to thicken.  Add the two tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Whip the cream until stiff peaks start to form, being careful not to over-beat.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese and pumpkin mixture and then spread into the pie plate.

Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.  Serve with additional whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed gingersnaps, if desired.   

Pumpkin Cream Pie

img_4811

Notes:
1.  Be sure to chill the mixing bowl and beaters and use heavy cream that is as cold as possible.  This  will help the cream to whip quickly and increase the volume.
2.  I used a food processor to crush the gingersnaps.  An alternative method is to place them in a ziplock bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
3.  Adapted from Pumpkin Silk Pie recipe by  thegunnysack.  Visit her site for delicious recipes and beautiful photos of food.

We must not forget that jack-o’-lanterns carved from pumpkins are the star of Halloween.  While I may be terrible at carving Jack-o’-lanterns,  I don’t think the little trick or treaters mind at all.  Happy Halloween

Jack O Lantern

Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies

Christmas traditions in America include many different things.  There are the Christmas trees, cards, outdoor decorations, gifts and, of course, delicious food.  One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking Christmas cookies.  It just would not be Christmas without home baked cookies.  Baking Christmas cookies brings back memories of your mom or grandma baking cookies in a warm kitchen scented with the smell of the cookies.

Like many Christmas traditions, the origin of the Christmas cookie began a really long time ago,  during the Middle Ages in Europe. As early as the 1500s, Christmas cookies were being baked up all over Europe.  We can thank the Dutch for Christmas cookies in the United States, who brought them here in the early 17th century.  Source is The Food Timeline.

I always associate a cut-out sugar cookie with Christmas.  And sure enough, I found two recipes for Christmas cookies in the American Cookery cookbook written by Amelia Simons in 1796.  Both of these recipes call for the cookies to be cut into shapes.  One of the recipes requires the cookies to be stored for six months so they can soften up.  Can you imagine having to wait six months to eat cookies you have just baked?

Christmas cookies can be any favorite cookie that you bake for the holiday but sugar cookies,  spritz cookies, and spiced gingerbread cookies are some of the traditional types.  Two of my favorite Christmas cookies are Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies.

The recipe for the Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies is from a vintage Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book that was first published in 1963.

Best Cooky of 1945-1950

It is interesting to note that Betty has a large section devoted to Christmas cookies (over forty cookies).   The Holiday Fruit Drops may have originated after the end of World War II when sugar was no longer rationed.  These cookies are packed with candied cherries, dates and pecans.  They are easy to make, keep good and actually seem to improve with storing.

Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup buttermilk, or water
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups candied cherries, cut in half
2 cups chopped dates
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Pecan halves, if desired

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, buttermilk and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until blended, or mix with spoon. Gradually stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in cherries, dates and chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Place a pecan half on each cookie, if desired.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Makes about 8 dozen cookies. 

Holiday Fruit Drops

Note:  The picture below is from last year since we have not had any measureable snow this December.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

christmas tree

 

Apple Pie

Apple pie is a favorite American dessert. To a lot of us, it is placed in the category as a comfort food. My favorite times of year to bake an apple pie are during the fall and for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Apple pie tastes good anytime of the year, but it seems to taste even better when made from locally grown apples.

Michigan is the third-largest producer of apples in the United States, behind Washington state and New York. Fortunately, many of the apple orchards are located nearby.

Cooking With Love

One of my favorite orchards to visit is Robinettes which is less than two miles away from my house. It is a fun place to visit, especially in the fall with their corn maize and wagon rides into the orchard. As soon as you walk into their Apple Haus you immediately smell their freshly baked donuts. Kids love having their picture taken in front of their huge red apple.

Robinettes Apple

Even though we are familiar with the phrase “as American as apple pie” apples are not native to the USA. When the colonists arrived in North America, they found only crabapple trees, so apple seeds had to be brought from England to be planted. While we associate the apple pie with such American things as baseball and the Statue of Liberty, history seems to indicate that it is the English who invented the apple pie.

Thanks to Google, I found the following recipe for apple pie that appeared in a scroll of cookery believed to have been written at the end of the fourteenth century. It is the recipes of the Master Cooks of King Richard II. The name of The Forme of Cury was given by Samuel Pegge and was published in 1789 in England. The name translates to The Method of Cooking. Cury being the Middle English word for cookery.

“XXIII. FOR TO MAKE TARTYS IN APPLIS.

Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd [1] wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake well.”

The Forme of Cury is free as an eBook on Project Gutenberg and can be found here.

An American apple pie recipe was first published in 1796 in a cookbook titled American Cookery by Amelia Simmons:

“Stew and strain the apples, to every three pints, grate the peal of a fresh lemon, add cinnamon, mace, rose-water and sugar to your taste–and bake in paste No. 3.”

The above recipe has familiar ingredients such as sugar and cinnamon with mace and rose-water not so familiar. American Cookery was the first known cookbook written by an American, published in Hartford, Connecticut in 1796. Until then, the cookbooks printed and used in the Thirteen Colonies were British.

A free version of American Cookery is also available from Project Gutenberg.

Both of the above referenced cookbooks are available on Amazon at very reasonable prices. I could not resist, so I bought the paperback version of The Forme of Cury and Kindle version of American Cookery. Both books are very interesting to read and are a good source for food history.

the forme of curry 1 american cookbook

The first apple pie I ever baked was from a recipe in a vintage Betty Crocker New Picture Cook Book published in 1961. The cookbook was passed down to me by a favorite aunt and shows its wear and tear.

Betty Crocker's Cook Book

Over the years, I have updated the recipe to the one in this post. It is a family favorite. Apple pie is such an easy pie to bake and everyone seems to appreciate it when you take the time to bake one from scratch.

apple pie 1

Apple Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Double-Crust Pastry

2 1/2 pounds baking apples (about 6 medium or 8 cups), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
juice of half of a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
1 tablespoon coarse sugar crystals, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F

Slice the apples in a large bowl and toss occasionally with the lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning. In a small bowl, mix sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt together. Pour this over the apples and toss to coat well. Transfer the filling to a pastry-lined pie plate and dot with the butter.

Top with the second crust. Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch. Pinch bottom and top crusts together and fold under. Crimp as desired. Cut several small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape while baking. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar crystals.

Place pie plate on a foiled-lined baking sheet and place on lowest rack in oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until apples are tender, juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown. If edges brown too quickly, cover lightly with aluminum foil. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Serve with ice cream if desired.

NOTES:
1. I used a Perfect Pie Crust recipe from Barefoot Contessa for this apple pie. Her recipe can be found on the Food Network
2. If you prefer, one box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts can be used. I use them quite often. They are easy to work with and produce a flaky crust.
3. I used Golden Delicious apples in this recipe.

apple pie slice