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Christmas Baking

I love gingerbread.  I think it is the one item that I truly associate with Christmas, even though I do not really remember making it growing up.  My grandmother would spend a day baking multiple cookies and squares with my cousin, who now does it with my mother.  My mother traditionally makes fruitcake among other things, so that there has always been a plate of goodies around during the holidays.

This year I wanted to make some cookies and then be able to share them at work as part of the holiday cards, and to say thanks to the secretaries.  I have been intrigued by the recipes people are sharing and bookmarked a few to try.  I did make gingerbread cupcakes for my students last week (sorry no pics, they ate them too quickly!) from The Cupcake Project, and will be definitely be adding this to next year’s baking list.  But to me, the holiday season is not complete without some gingerbread people.

Image from the Cupcake Project

My mom and I used her 1977 Becky Crocker Cooky Book ‘Gingerbread Boy’ recipe.  Their idea of volume is way off though, as we had 10 dozen cookies without changing the recipe!  They note it should make 2 1/2 dozen 2 1/2″ cookies. Nope!  We tried to balance the men with stars, trees, candy canes and angels, doing a simple white glaze and festive sprinkles.  They were at hit at @WineGuyTO’s office today.

Next up was peanut butter cookies with a twist: they look like Rudolph!  I found this post at Haute Apple Pie and knew that would be a hit. Unfortunately we could not find chocolate covered pretzels in the store, so we made our own!

Rudolph!

Thanks to my mom and @WineGuyTO for helping and being indulgent of my #occupymomskitchen!

Betty Crocker Gingerbread Boys

1/3 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cup dark molasses

2/3 cup cold water

7 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp each: salt, allspice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon (I also added in nutmeg)

Mix shortening, sugar and molassess thoroughly.  Stir in water.  Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting.  Blend all dry ingredients; stir in (**I did this mainly by hand and then by hand mixer when it was mostly combined).  Chill (we did almost 2 hours).

Heat oven to 350 F.  Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured board.  Cut with cookie cookies. Place  at least a 1/2 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 mins or until no imprint remains when touched lightly.

Frosting For the Cause: Chocolate Chip and Double Chip Vanilla Iced Cookies

I heard about Frosting for the Cause, like many people, through Twitter.  I had decided that I wanted to do more baking and cooking in the new year, and had seen a post with the hashtag #frostingforthecause.  A little searching later, and I was signed up!  I have enjoyed reading all the posts and learning some great recipes in the first three months and look forward to more! Thank you so much to Paula for organising the website and coming up with the idea.

 

The finished product, all 200!

 

 

I was a fortunate person that Cancer did not really strike my family until just recently.   My aunt has now had both a partial and full mastectomy, the second after being in remission.  She is doing well and we are hoping that it goes back into remission.  Around the same time as her first bout, my grandmother discovered she had bowel cancer.  She died during an operation to remove the cancer, within months of being diagnosed.  It was such a quick tragedy, it hit all of us hard.  I asked to be in March because of her birthday.  My grandmother baked annually at Christmas with my cousin, and gave more to charity than anyone else I know.  She would have loved to help with this event.

During the day, I am a high school teacher, so when I first signed up I thought that maybe my students could get involved.  Community service is part of the Ontario curriculum and I hoped that they would understand it can involve more than just volunteering.  Two of my Family Studies teachers on board who loved the idea (because unfortunately, Cancer touches us all) and the students happily made cookies.  They got a little creative with their decorating, but used pink for Breast Cancer and grey for Brain Cancer (my uncle died of latter the same year as my grandmother).  We donated 200 cookies to a local hospice, Evergreen Hospice , who were very happy to have them for their drop-in meetings.  The students were more than happy to do something to help others and gave up their cookies with no complaints!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Thanks to Shalan Bishop for the recipes)

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine/butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4  cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar.  Beat until the mixture is creamy.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside for a minute.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts).
  • Drop the cookie mixture by the tablespoonful on an ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield:  3 dozen 2 1/4″ cookies.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine/butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.  Grease cookie sheets.
  • Cream together the margarine, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla, mix well.
  • In a medium sized bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder.  Add the baking soda and salt to this mixture.  Set aside.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts).
  • Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place them onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing.

Yield:  3 dozen cookies.

Vanilla Icing

Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners sugar

1/3 cup of butter, softened
1 ½  teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

**add a few drops of food coloring for other flavours**

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, beat butter and confectioners sugar until smooth and blended.
  • Stir in vanilla and milk and beat until you reach the right consistency.
  • Stir in a few drops of food coloring until you reach your desired color.

Many thanks to Shalan Bishop, Head of Family Studies and Social Sciences, and Amanda Todd-Mierzynski and their classes for making the cookies and being supportive of this event.

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