December 24, 2004

just because it's Christmas...

...I made a cookie box for us.

(Place the mouse over the image to open the box)

...Baking cookies for Christmas is relatively new to me, and it is my only second time doing this, following the last year when I baked shortbread, white chocolate and macadamia nut, pina colada (with pineapple, coconut and rum), and snowball cookies, along with fruit cake.

This year I made a slighyly bigger selection of cookies: two different kinds of snowball, ginger, red wine, and pistachio cookies.

The ginger cookies, although so called, were actually spice cookies, to be more precise; there were cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. I first found these cookies in a fellow blogger's post, and couldn't help asking him for a recipe. The dough is to sit in the fridge for three days to let the spices and cassonade (French brown sugar) to blend in before being shaped and baked. The cookies were then stored for a week or two for the second "rest" to make spicy and aromatic pieces.

I didn't own any cookie cutter by the way, and went out to look for one - and the only thing I found was this cookie-cutter ornament, not a cookie cutter. Who cares?

These are soetkoekies, or spicy wine cookies, which I just recently discovered in the post through IMBB #10. This South African cookie (recipe here) features red wine and assorted spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves) - a bit like the mulled wine cake that I made the other day, sort of.

The recipe calls for almonds but I used pecans, as I didn't have almonds at hand. They still turned out pretty good, and had a very interesting texture; light and airy, but slightly chewy and moist....

Then there were snowball cookies, which I think are the most suitable cookies for Christmas. This time I whipped up two kinds using two different nuts: hazelnuts and macadamia nuts.

Hazelnut praline snowball cookie combines hazelnut praline in the dough that has a lot of ground hazelnuts. This was my creation for IMBB 10.

The other one, macadamia nut snowball cookie, is basically the same with hazelnut one except that it uses ground macadamia nuts (obviously) in the dough and scattered with chopped macadamia nut pieces. Because macadamia is particularly high in fat content among other nuts, the cookies never seemed to hold their shape as I had hoped; I should probably have increased the amount of flour, but these were truly melt-in-your-mouth soft and mellow, even if they weren't "snowballs" at all.

And here is another cookie that I took from the IMBB 10 collection: pistachio cookies. I was going to make another cookie using pistachios, but then changed my mind and gave it a try with this pretty green cookie created by Clotilde.

I almost thought I should have used regular white sugar instead of brown sugar to bring out the pistachio's green color to the maximum, but cookies themselves were pretty enough and very flavorful.

When I was making a list of cookies in my mind, I noticed that there were rather too much of nuts and spices, while there was no chocolate. This could have been because I had been making one too many chocolate cakes and was a little tired of them, I suspect....

It would have been nice if I had baked choco chip & mint cookies or something, but I instead chose to shortcut with store-bought items (I was running out of time as I did all this right before leaving home for Honolulu/Japan): Mint KitKat and Mele Mac (Hawaiian caramel- and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts), both of which are my favorites for the holidays, or in fact, any time of the year.

Finally, I oven-roasted some European chestnuts. To me, chestnuts are more a reminder of autumn than Christmas, but they made a nice complement to my cookie box nevertheless, I guess.

It had intended to fill my cookie box with pretty snowy cookies, festive-shaped ginger cookies, and then something red and something green, namely, spicy wine cookies and pistachio cookies. As you can see, however, this didn't quite work and everything is in rather a dull color here...

Well, they all tasted good at any rate, I should give myself a break, I reckon.

This Christmas I am in Japan and am probably not doing anything special but have a quiet dinner with my family. In the meantime, Best wishes to you all, your loved ones and everyone who loves you... I hope you are having a wonderful time no matter who you are with or without. Happy Holidays!


obachan said...

Wow! What a lovely cookie box! They all look yummy, but the Hazelnut pralilne snowballs look especially tempting to me. ( I love anything with hazelnuts anyway.)
Your post brought me a joy of Christmas indeed. Thanks :)

**** Merry Christmas ****

Reid said...

Hi Chika,

You made a wonderful sampling of cookies there. They all look so delicious and tempting. Hope you are having a nice time Japan. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Cathy said...

Merry Christmas Chika! Your cookies are beautiful and that's a nifty little "special effect" with the photo!


LeeLoreya said...

Really cute! You seem to have had a fun "cooking with monkey" experience there

pinkcocoa said...

hiya Chika
A very late season's greetings from Sydney! Really love your cookies box! It's filled with the wonderful color of love ;-)

Estelle said...

Hi Chika, I hope you had a great Christmas! Thanks for stopping by my blog and letting me know about the spoons! I would be THRILLED if you could get me 2 spoons and 2 forks, but I don't want to bother you. If you happen to stop by the store, that would be nice to think of me, otherwise, that would be for a next time ;-) I also wanted to let you know that I am going to Germany and Framce in mid-Januray, so if there is anything you would like frome these countries, please let me know, I would be happy to get you something! Anyway, thanks again and enjoy your stay in Tokyo, and have a nice new year celebration!!

nikko said...

what a gorgeous box. I never wanted to look at another cookie by the time my Christmas ones were finished...looking at those, I'm itching to get back in the kitchen and experiment!

chika said...

Hi there, thank you for your xmas greetings!

obachan - yeah I was really happy with the hazelnut snowballs. So with the macadamia nut ones! ;)

Reid - thanks, I am very much enjoying being back here.

Cathy - thanks, it was a bit of "open sesame" trick :P

LeeLoreya - good guess, I do love that kind of small playing around.

pinkcocoa - thanks, there was sure a lot of love and TIME and LABOR in it :)

Estelle - thanks! I got them. Will talk to you later...

nikko - yeah I felt overwhelmed by all the holiday baking, but now I am already ready to go back in the kitchen as well.