[There's just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays. This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I'm determined to make at least a few in my kitchen--and thought I'd share my ideas in case you'd like to partake, too. Here's the last post in the series.]
Can it be possible that there are only TWO DAYS LEFT before Christmas?? The last few months seem to have flashed by–faster than the scenery outside a train window. Or your waiter at a busy New York bistro. Or the chaps on a Chippendale dancer. Or even Taylor Hicks’s 15 seconds of fame. Where have the langorous, sunny days of summer gone? Whence the flip-flops, the frayed T-shirts, the cutoffs, the rain-stained Keds? To what secret destination have all the squirrels sequestered themselves (to the great dismay of The Girls)? How did I miss entirely the red and gold and sepia-emblazoned maple trees of autumn?
Instead, we’re suddenly faced with pummeling snow, jarring, backward-beeping snowplows outside our bedroom window at 5:47 AM, innumerable layers of socks, long underwear, undershirts, turtlenecks, polar fleece, scarves, hats, earmuffs (yes, those last two at the same time), mini-gloves inside bigger gloves, boots, cleats on boots–basically, about 14 extra pounds to lug around on our bodies between December and March. (And that’s not even taking into account any of the chocolate I’ve eaten.)
Well, as promised, here’s the final Gastronomic Gift that, like the days just passed, can be completed in a flash. These are not ornate, sugar-coated or piped with brightly colored icing for the holidays, but nevertheless, they were so good that I felt it would be Scrooge-like to withold these gems.
I don’t know why, but macaroons spell “holiday” to me (maybe somebody should lend me a dictionary). This recipe for amazingly chewy, chocolatey, irresistible macaroon-like cookies is taken (almost) verbatim from the brilliant Ellen Abraham’s Simple Treats, and it is a defnite winner. At a recent pot luck supper at my place (post to come anon), all eight of the women present raved over these and the cookies were gone, well, in a flash.
Properly named Chocolate Coconut Cookies by their creator, these yummy bites came together easily and quickly with the aid of my trusty food processor (which, I’ve discovered as I transcribe the final recipes for the cookbook, has become quite the fixture in my baking these days). Once baked and cooled, the cookies can be stored and packaged without worry, as they are fairly sturdy as well.
Since the CFO is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, I’ll be taking a break from blogging between now and some time after Christmas (except for an already pre-scheduled post on the 25th).
Our celebration this year will be quiet and intimate, but special nonetheless. And, for the first time, with just more than a year of blogging under my belt (and see? without even leaping on that opportunity for a fat-belt joke), I feel very lucky to be sharing this first holiday season with all of you, my readers and other bloggers I’ve “met” in the past 13 months. I couldn’t have imagined how much I’d come to love and appreciate this amazing community back in November 2007, when I started this blog.
So thank you, all, for reading, for commenting, for offering your own blog posts, recipes, and ideas on a regular basis. Here’s wishing you all a peaceful, restful, joyful holiday season. I hope you are able to spend time with those you love, those you care about, and those who make you laugh. And throw in some great food and gifts while you’re at it, too.
* * * Happy Holidays! * * *
“Um, Mum, did we hear you correctly? Did you just mention that Auntie CFO is coming to visit–?? All-RIGHT! New Nylabones!”
[And don't forget: There's still one day left to bid on any of the fabulous prizes for Menu for Hope. Just go to the main donation page and pick something you like, for only $10 per ticket--proceeds go to the UN World Food Programme. My prize is a year's subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine, plus a one kilo (2 lb.) jar of Omega Nutrtion organic coconut oil. Prize code: CA 05.]
Chewy Chocolate Macaroons
adapted from Simple Treats
These spectacular treats are deceptively simple to make, and totally addictive. If you manage to save enough to give away, be sure to print a warning on the package.
1/2 cup (60 g.) cocoa powder
1/4 cup (30 g.) barley flour (for gluten-free, use All-Purpose GF flour)
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) baking powder
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) fine sea salt
2-1/2 cups (190 g.) shredded, unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted [I didn't bother to toast it and it was still fine!]
1/3 cup (about 100 g.) date purée OR 8 pitted, dried unsweetened dates
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) water, if using date purée; OR 5 Tbsp. (75 ml.) water, if using dried dates
1 cup (180 g.) Sucanat
1 tsp. (5 ml.) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
Place the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt into the bowl of a food processor (no need to sift, as the processor will do that work). Add the coconut and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the dates or date purée, either 1 Tbsp./15 ml. water (for purée) or 5 Tbsp. /75 ml. water (for dry dates), and Sucanat to the flour mixture. Pulse repeatedly until the dates are incorporated (for dry dates, they should be chopped very fine), and the mixture comes together in a moist dough.
With a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, measure out balls of dough and place about 2 inches (5 cm.) apart on cookie sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with your palm or the bottom of a glass. (For a more decorative cookie, you can dip a fork in water and then press around the edges with the fork, as in the edges of the Jam-Filled Turnovers).
Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans once about halfway through, until cookies are dry on top and lightly browned on the bottom (use a spatula to lift a cookie and peek underneath). Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 to 6 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Makes 18-20 cookies. May be frozen.
Other Gastronomic Gifts:
GG I: Fudge Two Ways
GG III: Marzipan-Topped Shortbread **Note: the original recipe was somehow transcribed incorrectly–please use the current version with the correct amount of flour!!
GG IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers
GG VI: Pumpkin Butter
Last Year at this Time: Brussels Sprouts even My Honey Will Eat
© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs