Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas. I'm not feeling it.

Nothing says Christmas like cherry blossoms
 Here we are, ten days from Christmas and I am really lacking festive cheer. I think it shows in my decision to go for spring-themed decorations...

I thought about doing a Christmas gift guide, but instead I have collected (one might even say curated...) some guides that other people have done:

Gemma's collection of things for keeping warm is very appealing!

Kavey's guide has several things I would be very happy to receive (I don't use salt or pepper shakers, but those snowglobes are very cute).

Jassy has some really excellent ideas for interesting foody gifts.

Miss South has some very thoughtful and considered recommendations for books and gadgets, and I totally endorse her recommendation for Noodle! and A Change of Appetite. Of course, Miss South herself has a cook book out, which would be a great gift for anyone with a slow-cooker.

My general lack of enthusiasm for Christmas this year is also showing in the only Christmas baking I have been able to force myself into thus far. These are a not-very-sweet shortbread biscuit with a good flavour of Christmassy spices. Because of the fairly austere proportions of sugar and butter, and the lack of raising agent, they are ideal for stamping, if you happen to have acquired a customisable cookie stamp. They are beautifully short and crunchy, and just what you need with a cup of tea or hot chocolate. Or a hot toddy, if your Christmas spirit requires spirits.

Spiced Shortbread Cookies (makes 12)

130g plain flour
Pinch of salt
25g rice flour
25g caster sugar
25g dark muscovado sugar
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (the seeds from about 10 pods, bashed in the mortar & pestle is what I used)
100g butter, chilled.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter and bring together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about half an hour.

Roll the dough out to about 3/4cm thick. Cut into shapes or stamp with the seasonal message of your choice (if you are using a cookie stamp, dunk it in a plate of icing sugar and use a toothpick to make sure the details of the letters are still clear before each stamping).

Lift the cookies onto a paper-lined baking sheet and chill for another half hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool on the tray for a minute before lifting onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you want them a little sweeter, a thin glacé icing would work well, adding a bit more sweetness but not obliterating the letters.


Barbara said...

I think cookie stamps look like fun. I don't have one, but always have wanted to try working with one. A not too sweet cookie is fine with me, especially with all the other food that's going on.
I'll find my Christmas spirit when my kids come home for the holidays!

Suelle said...

I love that cookie stamp!

Even your limited attempt at festiveness is more than I've done - it looks very elegant!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Barbara - this is the first time I have used a cookie stamp! I am a fan.

Suelle - isn't it fun!? Lots of personalised biscuits in my future, I think!

Simona Carini said...

Love what you chose to write on your cookies. I've done all the Holiday things I will do except for a bit more baking. Some nice aroma of baked cookies is helpful when the weather is gray, no matter what time of the year.

Simona Carini said...

Maybe other people are interested in the answer, so I'll ask my question here: how many sets of letters come with the customizable cookie stamper?

Alicia Foodycat said...

Simona - there are at least two of each letter and number, except xyz, and 3 of some (tlae).

Pam said...

Your spring themed decorations are great. Love the Bah Humbug! I've done a lot of baking and could've used the stamp!

Taste of Beirut said...

I understand... and it doesn't help when the weather outside is sunny and beautiful!! At least that is what the weather in Beirut is like right now. Bring on springtime!

grace said...

i wanted to get a garden flag that said bah humbug but my boyfriend wouldn't let me. i'll get into the holiday spirit eventually. :)

Kavey said...

Catching up late.
Less is more and your spring-themed Christmas decorations are actually very appealing.
Hope the spirit found you nearer the day, though I think it's harder and harder with the oversaturation of themed content flung at us via every channel for months ahead of the day.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Pam - the stamp is so fun!

Joumana - it was very mild until Boxing Day. I've seen blossoms on some trees!

Grace - you should definitely get that flag.

Kavey - I did, a bit! But it was my kind of spirit not the commercially mandated one.


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