Friday, December 30, 2011

Eccles Cakes

Now playing: Tori Amos - Pretty Good Year
via FoxyTunes

A lovely teatime treat to have is a Eccles cake. They aren't cakes really though, more like a pastry. I made mine with docked puff pastry. Cut circles of desired size and make matches of two. The bottom layer gets rolled and the edge brushed with an egg wash. Place a dollop of filling in the middle (I used my mincemeat, some of the ingredients are hard to find stateside). Place another unrolled circle on top and roll up the edges.

Turn over and place on a well of flour and using a fork seal the edges. cut vents. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 400 deg. oven for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Eccles cakes are named after the English town Eccles. They are not geographically protected, the cakes can be made and called Eccles cakes even if they are made elsewhere. Another name for them is Fly's Graveyard.....I prefer the former name, don't you? Shudder! Eccles cakes are similar to Chorley cakes, Currant Squares, or Banbury cakes. There is a biscuit that has the same ingredients called, Garabaldi bicuits.

Here is the entry for Eccles cakes in the British baking book:

You can make mini versions of the cakes, as well.

Happy New year!


"Where there is tea, there is hope." -unknown

Friday, December 23, 2011

German Christmas Cookies Round Out More Than 12 Days of Cookies

Now playing: Eagles - Please Come Home for Christmas
via FoxyTunes

Lucie is all finished baking for Christmas this year. Here are some more of the delights she has been making. I hope I got the names right!

Nougat filled cookies with hazelnut in them and chocolate with orange cookies.

Wasp Nests and Vanilla Crescents.

Napoleon Hats

Froehliche Weihnachten!

See you after Christmas for a new blog. Happy Christmas!


"Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone." ~Deborah Whipp

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jam Thumbprints and Another Idea

Now playing: The Jam - Town Called Malice
via FoxyTunes

Another cookie that isn't traditionally for Christmas, but I brought to the table at this time of year. It helps that I included a Christmas treat into the mix with my little twist. Here is the entry from the British baking book, but I used my trusty sugar cookie recipe.

Next time I will plan ahead and make some homemade jam just for these. The jam I did make this year wasn't really suited for this recipe.

I didn't plan enough ahead for these either, in years past while in Britain I macerated some goodies and made my own mincemeat. It is difficult to get some of the ingredients stateside....Even buying this jar of mincemeat from Britain was quite dear. Anyway, these turned out pretty nice.


"I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included." -Bernard Manning

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mini Alfajores

Now playing: (Violin Sheet Music) - Don't Cry For Me Argentina
via FoxyTunes
(Because I ATTEMPT to play this on violin at times)

These are not necessarily a Christmas cookie, but I won't tell if you don't. They are a favourite around here, anytime of the year. This time they are made bite-sized. They are also enjoyed in other South American countries, but my daughter found out that they are prolific in Argentina, when she was there. Alfajores are also dipped in white and dark chocolate, or the edge of the cookie is rolled in coconut. I use a tried and true sugar cookie recipe, without sugar on top for these.

I use antique glass to press a design in the cookies. Shown are salt cellars that my grandma left to me. I dip them in flour and use the design on the bottom of the glass. To make the edges cleaner, I used a lid to cut them.

I recently found that it is extremely easy to make dulce de leche in a crockpot. Just place an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in the crock, cover with water and let it go for 8 hours. Can't be easier than that! I used to make it in the oven with mixed results. There is also a way to make it with a pressure cooker.

Sandwich some dulce de leche between two cookies and there ya go.


"Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space." -Dave Barry

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yakshemash - Polish Amaretti - Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!

Now playing: Korn - Blind
via FoxyTunes
(....Because I got this recording from my Polish friend Marchin, while working at The Clive.)


The next Christmas cookie is from, you guessed it, Poland. Polish Amaretti is served with a hot drink to friends that drop by, or in-between huge feasts. I really recommend this one and here is a link to the recipe:

"* 7 ounces sugar
* 2 large egg whites
* 7 ounces ground almonds
* 2 to 3 drops almond oil or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
* Pinch cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until they are stiff. Gradually add half the sugar while continuing to whip. The meringue should be so stiff, you can cut it with a knife.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a separate large bowl, mix together the ground almonds with the rest of the sugar, almond oil and cinnamon. Stir in a dollop of meringue mixture to lighten the nut mixture. Then, gently fold in the remaining meringue mixture, trying not to deflate the volume.

3. Using a scoop, drop equal portions of cookie batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until cookie bottoms are lightly brown and the tops are crackly. Cool completely on a wire rack."

The only thing I can add, is to dip a spoon in warm tap water (have a glass of warm tap water handy) and gently rub down rough edges with the back of the spoon, they turn out much nicer. Don't use too wet of a spoon!

The crockery is a previous birthday gift from Lucie. It is a pretty, blue, lidded bowl from Poland. These cookies are perfect for this bowl!

dziekuje -( jen-ku-je) Thank you!

The other Polish phrases I know from my co-workers at The Clive don't need to be on here. ;-)

This is dedicated to my friends Marchin and Joanna, also Jerek and Ella, wherever you are now. Rumour has it that both couples each have their first baby.


"The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin." -Jay Leno (Reminds me of a Scouser joke.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lemon Balm Is All The Buzz

Now playing: The Eagles - Peaceful Easy Feeling
via FoxyTunes

Taking a break here on the blog from the Christmas cookies. How about a gift idea? Lemon Balm ointment with organic beeswax?

My ointment is packed with Lemon Balm goodness. I had some dried Lemon balm from the summer garden, soaking in olive oil for weeks! I added some fresh Lemon Balm to the melting beeswax. I also dropped a few drops of Lemon Balm Essential oil into the mix.

It smells really good, especially with the bee's wax. Lemon balm is an anti-viral, insect repellent and soothes insect bites and skin allergies. It is also good in aromatherapy, as it is very calming.

I melted 5 ounces of bee's wax with 1/2 c. olive oil that had dried Lemon Balm soaking in it (strained) over a bain marie. I also put a packed handful of fresh leaves in. Stir in a few drops of essential oil. Strain. Funnel that melty mixture into jars or tins. I was thinking that Altoid tins, especially the very small ones would be lovely for this use. Clean it out and decorate, as well. I had little jelly sampler jars I had been saving just for this purpose. One thing I found out, was that it is best to heat the tools you are using, the funnel and strainers, the wax sets pretty quickly.

Bring a bit of summer sunshine captured in a jar into the winter.


"In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
Long ago."
- Christmas Carol

Friday, December 16, 2011


Now playing: Nightwish - Walking in the Air
via FoxyTunes

More of Lucie's Christmas cookies! When I walked into her house I thought they were a sort of Madeleine. They are Bärentatzen!

She then dipped them in chocolate.


"The one thing women don't want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband." ~Joan Rivers

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Piparkakut - Hyvaa Joulua!

Now playing: Chuck Berry - Run Rudolph Run
via FoxyTunes

A Finnish cookie this time - Piparkakut. A crisp gingery cookie, with wonderful cardamon, also cinnamon and cloves. Mine may be a bit posh, I only had maple syrup to make them, that is one twist on the recipe linked below. They are usually made with dark syrup. I couldn't wait to make the cookies with a vintage cookie cutter that was bought from a local antique store.

I am told to use cardamon to make it like the Finnish favourite.

I still have many gifts from a pen pal in Finland. Many of the gifts are Christmas related and from Finnish Lapland, the home of the "REAL" Santa Claus- Joulupukki. :-) Children can write him there:


"He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus." - Author Unknown

Christmas Roses A Baker's Dozen

Now playing: Hank Snow - Christmas Roses
via FoxyTunes

An entry from the British baking book. This time they were moulded into roses to reflect the song Christmas Roses. These are lover's roses not the Hellebore variety in the Christian legend.

The only twist I did with this recipe, was to add a dash of rose water to the dough.


Christmas roses to you I'm sending
May they bring the Christmas joy though we're apart
Christmas roses will say I love you as the tender message echoes from my heart
Though I can't be with you on this Christmas Day
Remember that I'll always love you though I'm far away
Christmas roses to you I'm sending
May they bring the Christmas joy though we're apart

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cookies - Some Repeats

Now playing: Elmo & Patsy - Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
via FoxyTunes

Talking about the Lebkuchen on the last blog reminded me of the German Christmas Market I went to in Birmingham, England a few years ago. I thought it would be good to show the cookies again, since I mentioned them. This shows the more hard/brittle Lebkuchenbroten, with the writing on them.

Mohrenkoepfe - I am classifying these as cookies, at the moment. I think these are my second favourite after the pine seed cookies. I found out that kids in Germany sometimes get these as a sandwich. WOW!

You can see the original German Christmas Market post here:


Shrewbury cakes another favourite from Blighty! I made them for Christmas last year.

Reminder here of the recipe here:


Gingernuts are another British favourite.



This brings us to shortbread! Remember these?

Chocolate Shortbread:

Filled Peanut Butter Shortbread:

This will lead very nicely to the fresh, buttery moulded shortbread roses I have coming up soon!


"Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas." ~Johnny Carson

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two More German Cookies

Now playing: Gloria Estefan - Christmas Through Your Eyes
via FoxyTunes

Two cookies for the price of one! Cookies five and six come from Germany and made by Lucie.

Haselnuss Makronen and Lebkuchen

Haselnuss Makronen - Hazelnut Macroons

Another cookie that many German people remember and enjoy at Christmas!


The different regions of Germany have different recipes for this traditional Christmas cookie. Much like gingerbread, it is either soft textured, like Lucie's pictured. There is a more hard/brittle version of the cookie that is decorated with icing with words written out. I saw that kind at the German Christmas Market in Birmingham, England a few years ago.

Read more about the history and get a recipe here:


"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart." ~Washington Irving

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Now playing: José Feliciano - Feliz Navidad
via FoxyTunes

Cookie number four comes from New Mexico, developed by Spanish colonists and immigrants from other Hispanic countries. This cookie is served at weddings and at Christmas! I added a few twists of my own.

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F

1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp anise seed
1/8 c. orange juice
1 tbsp. orange marmalade (my twist)
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top

Cream butter and sugar, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet, until a smooth dough forms. Firm up in the refrigerator briefly. Roll out onto a floured board and cut into shapes. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 10 minutes.

Twist number two is Chipotle chocolate. For these I didn't sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, but you can feel free to keep that element.


"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas." ~Peg Bracken

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Now playing: Hank Snow - White Christmas
via FoxyTunes

....Another entry from the German baking book. Lucie made these and they have a nice rum flavour to them, as well as a brightly distinct walnut taste. Pour some chocolate over the top and you can't go wrong!


"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." ~Harlan Miller

Monday, December 5, 2011

Candy Cane Meltaways

Now playing: Harry McClintock - Big Rock Candy Mountain
via FoxyTunes

Crunch up a bunch of candy canes in a blender. Sift the dust and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg. F.

Cream 1 1/2 sticks of butter with 1/2 c. icing sugar. Slowly add 1 1/2 c. cake flour and 1/2 c. candy cane dust. Blend into a smooth dough and firm it up in the freezer for 10 minutes. Prepare small cookie molds and press the dough halfway up mold. Let the dough set in the freezer for 1 hour. Bake directly out of the freezer for 8 minutes. Let the cookies cool in the molds for a few minutes and release them onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle with more candy cane dust.

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~Norman Vincent Peale

Sunday, December 4, 2011

MORE THAN Twelve Days Of Cookies Around the World!

Now playing: John Denver & The Muppets - Twelve Days Of Christmas
via FoxyTunes

We will start with Germany......Pinienkuglen. These cookies melt in the mouth with chocolate and pine seed flavour. One of my favourite German cookies.

Lucie always gets her German baking book out this time of year. We made these together this time.

We started with 100 g. of soft butter, set aside. Make a paste with 125 g. pine seeds and add 125 g. shaved plain chocolate. Cream the butter with 150 g. icing sugar. Add the pine seed and chocolate paste to the butter/sugar mixture. Set in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Bring the dough out of the refrigerator and make into balls about the size of a large marble. Experience has taught that these are better made on the small side. Place them one by one on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Put them back in the refrigerator overnight. Try not to cheat this step, the cookies will keep their shape much better.

Ok, pretend like it is the next day. Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F., 150 C., or Gas Mark 1.

While the oven is heating take the chilled cookie balls one sheet at a time out of the refrigerator. Sprinkle with hagelzucker (hail sugar), if you can find some. Decorate each one with a pine seed. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool briefly before putting on a cooling rack.

You can also use hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts for this cookie.

Don't be too surprised if there are plenty of German cookies featured in the near future.


"Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home." ~Carol Nelson