December 6, 2012 by caitlinvaclark
I have so many holiday recipes for you today!!!
Last night, we went to A Silent Night at the Dennis Severs House. They call it a “still life drama.” Basically you explore an old house that has been set up the way the occupants would have lived during different eras. You’re requested to silently experience the house, smelling and listening, but no touching or talking, in hopes of being transported to the Christmases of yore. Something like that. Our group had trouble with this.
Yes, one friend may have been shushed within the first 5 minutes. Another possibly shrieked when her boyfriend closed the door on her in the cellar. Hey, a house dimly lit by candles, it gets creepy down there. And hearing a clatter coming from the other room, I might have walked in on my husband picking a teacup up off the floor. When he didn’t follow me into the next room, I thought he’d been escorted out. Turns out he was just taking his time staring at all the knickknacks. The curators might not have been our biggest fans, but we managed to have a good time!
Afterwards, we had our friends over for some festive cookies and cocktails. I had high hopes of having the house fully decorated by then. Unfortunately finding extension cords and Christmas lights isn’t all that easy when you can’t jump into your car and run to Target. So by the patchy twinkle of our yet-to-be-ornamented tree, we had a scrumptious and toasty nightcap.
With a little advanced preparation, I had cocktails and desserts ready after blustery cold evening out. I made Raspberry Lemon Tarts, Christmas Spiced Snickerdoodles, and Oatmeal Cookie Toffee (this one was a huge hit but I’m still perfecting the recipe, so stay tuned). I also mulled some wine, kept warm in a thermos, and made my favorite sparkling apple cocktails. Just slice the apples in advance and toss them with the lemon juice. Have everything else chilling in the fridge and you’re ready to go!
Please note that this is by no means our completed Christmas tree! More lights will be arriving tonight, thanks to Amazon Prime. In the mean time, I tried to shabbily spread what few lights I had. Don’t judge. This house will be a winter wonderland by the end of the week. I swear. It will be sick with sparkle.
Most mulled wine recipes simply call for the addition of white sugar, but I find adding brown sugar as well adds a deep richness that wine deserves.
Sweet and Spicy Mulled Wine
2 bottles red wine
4 Tbs mulling spices
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cognac or brandy
Mix the first 4 ingredients in a large pot. Cook over the low heat for 30-45 minutes. Do not allow wine to go about a simmer so the alcohol doesn’t boil off. Add the cognac or brandy and cook for 5 more minutes. Strain and serve.
Sparkling Apple Cocktails
Juice of 2 lemons
1 apple sliced
2/3 cup bourbon
1 liter sparkling hard cider
Mix ingredients and serve in a champagne glass.
Snickerdoodles are basic sugar cookies rolled in a cinnamon sugar coating, but here I’ve added some Christmas spices to jazz up this old classic.
Christmas Spiced Snickerdoodles
Makes about 30 cookies
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 ¾ flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground clove
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Mix together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until well blended.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Roll the dough into balls, 1 ¼ inch across, about 1 Tbs of dough each. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and spices. Roll each doughball in the sugar and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Space cookies 2 inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Clearly there was a learning curve with my decorating…
Raspberry Lemon Tartlets
1 prepared pie dough
Lemon Curd, recipe follows
1/3 seedless raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Roll out the pie dough and cut a circle ¼ inch wider than your tartlet’s circumference. Place circle into a buttered tartlet pan, smoothing up the edges. Use a fork to prick the base of the pie dough. Top with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans.
Repeat with the remaining 5 tartlets, rerolling the dough if necessary.
Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.
While the pie crusts cool, make the lemon curd (see recipe below).
Once lemon curd and pie crusts have cooled, fill each tart with lemon curd. Heat the raspberry jam so it softens slightly (30 seconds in the microwave). Place jam in a small Ziploc bag and snip a very small hole in the corner. Gently squeeze the jam onto the tarts in a spiral pattern. Using a toothpick, softly drag the point of the toothpick from the center outward, making a web pattern. Or of course feel free to decorate the tops as you wish- they are your tarts!
Let the tarts set completely in the fridge before serving.
*adapted from The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook
9 egg yolks
Zest of 2 lemons
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
12 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
Set up a double boiler. Alternately, find a pot that can fit a metal bowl so that it rests into the pot but leaves at least 2 inches from the bottom. Fill the bottom of the double boiler or the bot with a few inches of water. Make sure that the water does not touch the top bowl.
In the top bowl, mix together the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk over a low heat in the double boiler for 10 minutes. You will need to stir this constantly so that the eggs don’t curdle. The lemon curd will first become frothy then begin to thicken. After it has thickened, add the butter, a few pieces at a time.
Once all the butter has been incorporated, remove from heat and place into an ice bath to cool. Make sure that you don’t get water into your lemon curd. Stir every few minutes until it has cooled completely.
The lemon curd will keep in an airtight container for 4 days.
The cookies and cocktails were a festive end to our first Christmas event of the season!