Don't let that fake mom on the commercial fool you - Nutella is evil.
There are times in the kitchen where experimentation fails in a colossal way (note to self: stay away from the curry) and other times where a little 'why not?' turns into 'why have I never?' With a pile of Coronation grapes being snubbed by The Monster I needed that why not.
I once smuggled a 10 pound bag of grapefruits on a trip from Brownsville, Texas to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Actually, I'm not sure smuggled is the right word considering that there is no easy way to tuck in grapefruits around your body. I could have gone for the fake pregnancy, but that would have been one lumpy baby. In the end I got through customs without any trouble. The officer probably smelled the citrus on the university student (I also had key limes) and was just relieved it wasn't pot.
Originating in Hubby's family (thanks Susan) the Christmas Tree Bun is a sweet bread dough, formed into this cute tree. Drizzled with icing and rainbow sprinkles it serves as a carrier for the all important honey butter. Mimosas, sausage, and bacon on the side.
On the now rare occasions where the A clan gets together for Christmas morning, er... noon hour, we have to sit through the gift-opening to get to the Tree Bun. After the kids have torn through their gifts and we adults opened our present from Susan we have to wait for Susan to finish opening all the presents her friends and family send her. We aren't very patient with her, to be honest, as she stops her opening to chat and watch the kids. Yes, they are cute and the excitement is contagious, but we need her to finish in order to eat. And eat is what we want to do.
When Hubby and I spent our first Christmas alone in the new city - five years ago! - the only thing he asked for was Christmas Tree Bun. We sat in our dining room, devouring bread with honey butter and downing mimosas. I think people got a few tipsy phone calls that morning. Ah, the days before kids. The tradition carries on, minus all the champagne.
I would share the recipe, but I don't think I am allowed - until my daughters are married off and then, only to their partners. But pick your favourite soft or sweet bread recipe and form it into buns to rise. Bake together and enjoy.
This year we are off to Mexico for two weeks, with my family. While I can make no promises regarding rainbow sprinkles I do intend to bake on Christmas morning, 30 degree C weather be damned!
Have a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. We'll see you in a few weeks.
As happy as I am about the cookies, however, there is a little bit of sadness in our house today. We're out of maple syrup. Between the cookies and the baked beans I made for dinner - and the numerous breakfast of waffles over the past year - we finally polished off the 2 Litres of maple syrup we bought on vacation last autumn.
My love of maple syrup means I could never be a true locovore. Sure, I've tried birch syrup, saskatoon, and even made my own blackcurrent syrup. None of it compares to the simple maple goodness of a rich maple syrup. I've tried to describe the taste, but failed. You can only taste it for yourself and be enveloped by that golden brown elixir of the forest.
I love it so much that I pushed for our first dog to be named Maple - and won. (The other dog is Buster.)
In the morning, as the Monster's waffles are cooking she is asked if she wants syrup or jam. Well, that's not entirely true. Hubby always puts raspberry jam on them because that's what he likes. I usually ask, and she always picks syrup. And when I started being specific about it being maple syrup she started responding, "No, Buster Syrup!"
With the days getting shorter at an alarming rate it is tough to make it to the park after dinner. And when Hubby is out of town, as he is this week, I try to stay home in the evenings to save my sanity. Oddly, baking cookies with the Monster is generally a sanity saving activity. I just have to keep her hands out of the mixing bowl while it is turned on because she so desperately wants to lick the batter.
I pulled out my the last of my Sugar Moon Farm syrup, my Highwood Crossing Oats, and the jumbo pack of chocolate chips (we were out of raisins). We mixed, she poured, we snuck chocolate chips, and we baked. She obviously liked the batter too because that paddle was licked like it just came out of the dishwasher. And when she was done she announced that she was going to eat her hands as well. It was all I could do to keep her occupied with a dizzying amount of Ring-Around-The-Rosie while the cookies cooled so she didn't burn her tongue.
After years of testing recipes and getting used to the crappy oven that came with the house I finally got an oatmeal cookie recipe that makes my heart happy. I can't lay claim to anything original about it, other than using less coconut than called for last night because I ran out. Martha strikes again. When I found this cookie recipe I had to try it. Not shockingly, it was a clear winner for me. Even if it takes away from my precious maply syrup supply.
I do have a call in to Sugar Moon to see if they will ship to me. Maybe if I get the Monster to say please in her tiny but emphatic voice with a drawn out plea they will say yes...
Oatmeal Raisin/Chocolate Chip Cookies
(slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raisins/chocolate chips/dried apricots/dried cherries or any combination
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the coconut. Set aside.
3. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and mix well to combine.
4. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. When combined add the oats and raisin/chocolate chips.
6. Form 1 tbsp in a ball and place on a greased/line cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.